Customs officer (border force officer)

What they do

The role of customs officers is now performed by Border Force officers. Border Force officers check people and goods entering Australia for illegal and prohibited substances. They work in airports and ports around Australia, examining passengers, luggage, cargo, mail and the crews of planes and ships to prevent the illegal entry into Australia of prohibited, quarantined or dutiable goods. They also patrol Australian waters to intercept and deter people smugglers. When illegal goods are detected, Border Force officers have the power to make arrests, and may provide evidence in court.

Working conditions

Border Force officers work in airports, ports and in regional centres on the coast throughout Australia. In Western Australia there are Customs offices in Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Carnarvon, Christmas Island, Dampier, Esperance, Fremantle, Geraldton, Perth and Port Hedland. Most Border Force officers transfer between a number of departments and offices throughout their career, which may require moving to regional locations or interstate. A number of roles within the Customs service involves shiftwork, which may include working nights, weekends and public holidays.

Border Force officers have a high level of contact with the public and often have to deal with people who are upset, angry or otherwise confrontational.

Tools and technologies

Border Force officers use equipment such as x-ray machines and ion scanners to check passengers, luggage and parcels for drugs, weapons and other illegal or dangerous substances. Border Force officers also use specially trained detector dogs to locate certain prohibited goods. The Border Force Marine Unit uses large patrol vessels and smaller speed boats for boarding operations, along with general maritime safety equipment. Some Border Forces officers may also carry firearms.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a Border Force officer within the Department of Home Affairs you must pass the Australian Border Force (ABF) recruitment processes.

Applicants must be an Australian citizen, at least 18 years old, meet the medical, fitness, aptitude and psychometric requirements for the role, and be able to attain and maintain an Australian Government security clearance and a Department of Home Affairs Employment Suitability Clearance.

You can also enter this profession through the Border Force Officer Recruit Traineeship. This traineeship takes 12 months to complete and comprises a mix of classroom-based and operational training. The classroom training will take place at an ABF College campus. After successfully completing your work placement you will then become a Border Force officer.

Contact the Department of Home Affairs or the Australian Border Force for more information.