Tasks and Jurisdiction
The customs service has a very long tradition world-wide. Since ancient times, customs duties and taxes have been levied to contribute to and to guarantee the State’s budget.
Over the long history of the customs authorities in Austria, the work of the customs service has always been closely linked to political and economic developments and changes. Consequently, there has always been a need for the customs service to adapt to a changing environment. The Austrian Customs Administration has always tried to rapidly and flexibly respond to such new challenges.
Twice since the First and Second World War, the Austrian Customs Administration had to be reorganised and rebuilt and reintegrated into a new governmental structure. However, in keeping with its long tradition, the Austrian Customs Administration always has been and still is an integrated, constituent part of the Austrian Ministry of Finance.
In 1995 Austria became a member state of the European Union (EU) and was confronted with a great deal of change, especially in the field of customs. National frontiers were previously subject to border controls were opened from one day to the next, in line with the policy of a Single European Market. Customs officials were required to apply new legislation, the Community Customs Code, and commenced the important work of managing the European external border with Austria’s four Eastern European neighbours as well as Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The eastern borders were opened in 2004, when 10 new Member States were welcomed into the EU. All of these changes had an impact on the Austrian Customs Administration: the focus of its tasks and its structure were completely reorganised. Customs and Taxes were grouped into one General Directorate in 2002 due to the dramatic decrease in the number of staff from almost 6,500 in 1990 to 4,200 in 1996 and finally 1,750 in 2007.
As a result of Austria’s membership in the EU, the Austrian Customs Administration created a new customs policy, which was strongly orientated towards the needs of the larger economic area and the common policy of the European Customs Union.
The modern Austrian Customs Administration considers itself to be a member of an international community, both as a public authority and a partner to reliable companies and citizens.
Nowadays, in the context of performing daily clearance of imported and exported goods, the Austrian Customs Administration collects duties and taxes, but it also:
- serves a national and EU-wide network of international trade related authorities in communicating with each other as well as with economic entities through the use of modern IT support such as e-customs.
- protects the economy and Austria’s citizens against product piracy, counterfeiting and dangerous goods.
- manages export reimbursements for Austrian agricultural products.
- implements various international agreements, legislation or resolutions offering preferential treatment, guaranteeing peace-keeping policy and protecting the environment and cultural heritage.
- cooperates with and supports the administrations of other countries in sharing experiences and mutual interests in the realm of its remit.