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Immigration Corner | I want my things back!

Published:Tuesday | September 6, 2016 | 9:09 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I recently visited the United Kingdom. Customs seized some of the items that I had taken with me. Could you please tell me whether there is anything that I can do to retrieve these items? I believe that they should not have been taken away.

- AT

Dear AT,

There are a few options that may be pursued when Customs seize items.

Customs will destroy or sell anything it seizes from persons if they are breaking the rules on bringing or receiving goods from abroad, unless those persons ask for those things back. This can be done even if persons think that customs was right to seize the items; customs was wrong to seize these things and they will have to go to court. This applies to goods, cars and other vehicles that are brought into the United Kingdom; any vehicle used to transport the items; and packages in the post.

Persons have 45 days to collect anything that may have been left in the vehicle if it has been seized. Those persons should send a letter marked 'personal property' to the address on the notice or letter that was received from customs.

Customs officers can also seize goods, vehicles and cash that has been brought into the United Kingdom if they suspect a crime and are seized as criminal evidence. They will explain what happens next and what persons can do to retrieve the items.

Persons should also be aware that they can complain about how customs officers treated them during a customs seizure. Such complaints should be made to Border Force or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), depending on who seized your things. Persons should check the notice or letter that they received from customs if they do not know who seized their things and they should contact HMRC if they have any questions about customs.

I hope this helps.

- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com