Customs & Trade

The Customs Division is responsible for the improved facilitation of legitimate trade whilst also improving taxpayers and traders compliance with customs legislation and other related laws of  Tonga. In achieving its facilitation and compliance objectives through the application of modern and international risk based practices it will ensure , improved revenue collection and enhanced border security of Tonga.

The Customs & Trade Division delivers its outputs through three main units:-

  • Commercial Management

  • Border Management

  • Enforcement and Compliance.

  • Tariff and Trade Policy

  • Customs Intelligence

  • Legal

  • ICT


Commercial Management

This Section is responsible for trade facilitation through the effective use of risk management and ensuring compliance with customs legislation and procedures. Is an important component of a comprehensive strategy for national and regional development, and aims to provide an open regional platform to exchange information, experiences and practices  for trade facilitation.


The main functions include:

  • The Customs One-Stop Shop is responsible for screening, examination, approval and payment of Customs import and export entries prior to final clearance of goods for home use or export.

  • Monitoring the movement of goods entered into private Customs bonded warehouses, Local excise manufacturing warehouses, fuel and LPG warehouses and depots.

  • Monitoring the movement of imported goods into public or general Customs warehouses from entry until cleared in accordance with Customs laws.


Border Management

The provision of border protection services are done through the effective use of risk assessment, re-  screening information for processing the movement of goods and people and detect the movement of illicit, restricted  goods and undesirable travelers

The main functions include:

  •  Customs International seaport and airport operations including inward and outward clearance of   crafts and persons arriving into or departing from Tonga.

  •  Inward and Outward sea and air cargo management at Ports of entry.

  •  Monitoring the movements of yachts and small crafts under temporary importation procedure.

  •  Physical inspection of FCL consignments at international seaports.

  • Primary line immigration clearance at all international ports.


Enforcement and Compliance

The role of Customs enforcement is to effectively protect society and secure the collection of legally due revenue by fighting against cross-border crimes. To address the various challenges brought about by the fast pace at which trade is evolving globally, Customs enforcement is required to apply a risk based approach to maximize its enforcement efforts and achieve balance between control and facilitation. 

The main functions include:

  • Post Clearance Audits conducted by means of desk and company audits.

  • Investigation of Customs offences.

  • The Risk Management Unit is responsible for the development and maintenance of Customs risk and compliance strategy through regular analysis of trade and taxpayer databases and periodic review of Customs procedures and processes.


Tariff and Trade Policy

The establishment of a separate unit within Customs to oversee tariff and trade policy issues is an essential ingredient in Customs modernization. The recent WTO Free Trade Agreement and the conclusion of negotiations on numerous Regional Free Trade Agreements will require the development of Customs procedures, import tariffs and that are aligned to the Agreements and facilitative towards the needs of taxpayers and the general public.

The main functions include:

  • Periodic review and maintenance of Customs Tariff Schedules

  • Analytical policy advice on trade related matters

  • Review of applications for concessions

  • Provision of tariff related advice


Customs Intelligence

Customs Intelligence functions conducting analysis of data and information collated and later disseminated to support Customs various functions.

The main functions include:

  • Disseminating actionable alerts and reports following analysis of data collated.

  • Maintain small crafts database for monitoring of local movement of crafts arriving into Tonga.

  • Maintain networks and communication channels for information exchange with key law enforcement agencies at the national, regional and international level. 


The legal division ensures compliance and trade facilitation through the effective enforcement of Customs laws using risk based auditing, proactive intelligence, early detection and appropriate enforcement of Customs legislations and regulations.

The main functions include:

  • Legal framework and advice to Minister and CEO

  • Respond to complex technical and legal issues raised by taxpayers

  • Manage objection appeals, ruling and technical policy for all tax types,

  • Represent the Ministry in the Tax Tribunal and Magistrate Court

  • Review of legislation

  • Provide legal support to Operational Delivery Division.


The ICT division is to innovate and improve Customs processes through the application of ICT and Automation to facilitate legitimate trade and enhance business confidence and competition.

The main functions include:

  • IT Support and System Management