Border Protection Unit

Jamaica is located in a strategically important position in the Caribbean Basin. In addition to normal legitimate import and export trade, Jamaica also attracts a large volume of transhipments to and from South and Central America, the USA and Europe. It is positioned relatively close to the Panama Canal so it has the potential to act as a transhipment hub for goods transiting to the Pacific. Due to its location, it is predisposed to attract the type of illegal narcotics trade that is common in the region. As Such the Border Protection Division was established to stem the trafficking or flow of these illicit goods.

The Border Protection Division is responsible for securing the country’s borders and regulating the flow of goods into the in and out of the country. The division has five Branches namely the Intelligence Branch, the Risk Management Branch, Contraband Enforcement Team, Cargo Imaging Branch and the Investigation Branch all working collectively to ensure the protection of Jamaica’s borders.

The Division has partnered with law enforcement entities both locally and internationally to enhance the security of Jamaica’s borders while safeguarding our citizens. Our local partners are the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica Defense Force, Coast Guard, the Port Authority of Jamaica, Ministry of National Security, Hazardous Substance Regulatory Authority and the International Center for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences. Our international partners include UK Border force, US Customs and Boarder Patrol, Interpol and the Joint Regional Communication Center (JRCC).

The Jamaica Customs Border Protection Division has been successful in detecting, deterring and intercepting of contraband such as narcotics, ammunition and weapons being smuggled through our ports.


Intelligence Branch

One of the Jamaica Customs Agency’s (JCA) main functions is to safeguard the borders and ensure the legitimate flow of people and goods. Intelligence is a key tool that Customs uses to achieve this goal. Intelligence is the process of collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information that is relevant to the JCA's objectives and operations. The JCA uses intelligence to:

  • Prevent and detect smuggling, fraud, and other criminal activities
  • Enforce trade and revenue laws and regulations
  • Manage risks and allocate resources efficiently
  • Support national security and international cooperation

The Intelligence analysis branch of the Border Protection Division (BPD) serves as the ‘information hub’ of the JCA where information is analyzed and converted into actionable intelligence. The branch operates from both Kingston and Montego Bay with a current staff complement of 25 persons who monitor the movement of passengers and cargo at the 3 international airports, the ports of Kingston and Montego Bay, as well as the 5 cruise ship terminals and various sufferance ports across the island. In addition to the official ports, the team also monitors activities at the unmanned ports.

The analysts collate and analyze seizure data both locally, regionally, and internationally to prepare trend reports and make predictions which are sent to select teams to guide their daily and special operations. They also provide strategic intelligence which is used by senior management to aid in the allocation of resources and the development of policies and strategies.

The capable team of analysts and field officers are highly skilled in their areas of expertise and this knowledge is regularly imparted to the wider Customs Agency through advisories, sensitization sessions and training. Through these endeavours the branch strives to make all officers of the JCA ‘Border Protection minded' which will help to increase seizure and detection rates.

The branch also maintains partnerships with various Law enforcement agencies both locally and internationally, where they share intelligence and strategize to strengthen the effect of their collective efforts in the fight against crime at Jamaica’s borders.



Risk Management Branch

The continued growth in international trade and travel globally reinforces the need for proactive, adaptive, and innovative approaches to managing risks associated with the movement of cargo and people. As a result, Customs Administrations worldwide have been incorporating risk management because its value-producing benefits create an ideal operating environment for the Administrations and their stakeholders. In addition, independent intergovernmental bodies such as the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the World Trade Organization, have highlighted the necessity of risk management based on its inclusion in key standards and guidelines, namely the SAFE Framework of Standards, the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the WCO Risk Management Compendium produced as implementation manuals for Member States. These international standards are aiding Customs Administrations in embracing a structured and systematic approach to border enforcement and facilitation.

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) recognises the importance of risk management in achieving its mission and vision. As a result, the JCA has adopted a risk-based approach to doing business by applying risk management techniques and practices supported by modern Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and a dedicated Team. The Risk Management Branch (RMB) is integral to Agency's core operations, and its inputs are helping to transform the operating environment. Its primary roles include planning, organising, and implementing strategic, tactical, and functional risk management programmes and initiatives that identify and treat the greatest areas of risk exposure while enabling legitimate trade and travel. In addition, the Branch's focus is ensuring that JCA's risk management approaches are aligned with international standards and best practices.

The practice of risk management has proven beneficial. Challenges are being addressed, and opportunities maximised, thus contributing to the Agency's overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Benefits of Risk Management Practices

  • Improved risk identification, targeting, and selectivity.
  • Speedy clearance/processing for legitimate traders and passengers;
  • Establishment of recognition programs for compliant traders, e.g., Authorised Economic Operators (AEO);
  • Improved trader compliance with laws and regulations;
  • Greater transparency in the Agency's decision-making process;
  • Improved cooperation between Traders and the JCA;
  • Increased stakeholder satisfaction and
  • Business process improvements,


Contraband Enforcement Team Branch



The country’s shipping and airline industries came under immense pressure resulting from sanctions, harsh legal and financial penalties that were imposed by United States Government for shipments detected with Marijuana arriving from Jamaica to their various ports of entry. As a result of the increasing volume of narcotics that was being trafficked from Jamaica to the United States, by commercial conveyances, a solution had to be found to address the situation and this resulted in the birth of the Jamaica Customs Agency - Contraband Enforcement Team, which was established in 1987, by an initiative with the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP).



What started out in 1987 as a tool to combat marijuana trafficking via export to the United States has ballooned to a dynamic branch with a multiplicity of functions. Globalization brought with it as many threats as it did opportunities and the Agency had to transform to keep abreast of the needs of the travelling public and the traders.  This led to the diversification of operations and bolstering the team complement to effectively provide the country and citizens with the levels of border security of a world class standard.

Today the Branch is an operational team within the Agency with a mandate to detecting and deterring the flow of contraband such as illicit drugs, firearms, intellectual property, wildlife trafficking, human trafficking and terrorist related threats while ensuring compliance with Customs and locally related laws, acts and regulations. The branch’s sphere of responsibility encompasses the entire island of Jamaica all air & seaports, marinas and aerodromes and is headed by a director who has overall program administration, operations and management for the unit and reports to the Deputy Commissioner of Customs in charge of Border Protection.   Operations are decentralized and involve two geographical regions, Eastern and Western, each headed by a manager.


What do we do

Nagy, J. (nd), in an IMF article stated that “Customs enforcement depends on well-trained, professional, and highly motivated enforcement staff.”

The CET has a staff complement of 84 highly trained and motivated officers who are responsible for monitoring the ports of entry and exit to safeguard against illegal activities, narcotics and human trafficking while simultaneously facilitating lawful trade and travel.

The enforcement program is a critical part of the Agency’s administration and supports its role of safety of society, border security and the protection of economy.  This involves developing, planning, and participating in tactical operations to apprehend, detain and arrest persons, conveyances and merchandise found in contravention of the laws of the country.


Joint Operations

The Contraband Enforcement Team works with other international and local law enforcement agencies to interdict illicit drugs and firearms, combat intellectual property rights infringements, lottery scamming, money laundering and corruption in other general trade to maintain safety of society, border security, and the protection of economy


Marine Patrols

The maritime environment presents customs with numerous challenges in its efforts to protect revenue and to detect smuggling and other illegal activities. To address these challenges, marine units were formed with appropriate equipment and related technologies and properly trained staff to both operate the vessels and carry out the customs enforcement duties.

Vessel Rummages

The maritime and aviation environment presents customs with numerous challenges in its efforts to protect revenue and to detect smuggling and other illegal activities thorough checking of vessel or/and aircraft .


Enforcement strategy

Our strategies continue to evolve in keeping with the dynamism of our operating landscape and the challenges as it relates to Globalization, however, they remain consistent in support of the branches within the Border Protection Division and the Division’s objectives and priorities integrating the Agencies strategic plans and vision 2030.


Cargo Imaging and Physical Security Branch

The Cargo Imaging Branch (CIB) formerly referred to as the Cargo Imaging Unit (CIU) is responsible for the non-intrusive inspection of cargo, passenger luggage, mail and parcels at the islands Seaports and Airports. Non-intrusive inspection refers to the use of technologies such as x-ray, gamma rays and other forms of equipment to inspect cargo without opening them. The non-intrusive inspection system has become a very useful tool to the JCAs as it supports the detection and identification of prohibited, restricted and undeclared items crossing our borders without disturbing legitimate trade. The team is comprised of highly trained and specialized officers equipped to analyze images through the use of x-ray systems and radiation detection equipment. 

The Agency has been utilizing non-intrusive inspection for approximately 19 years. The Branch works closely with the Operations Division, other branches within the Border Protection Division, local and international Law Enforcement partners to leverage technology, collaboration, and the expertise of our team members to protect our borders.  


Seaport Operations  

The Agencies policy requires that all cargo commercial and personal arriving in or leaving Jamaica be scanned as the first point of inspection control. The goal is to ensure the detection of contraband such as firearms, ammunition, and narcotics at the borders and to encourage compliance amongst our customers.  


Airport Operations  

The Cargo Imaging Branch executes its functions at the island's three international airports. This involves scanning of passengers' luggage from incoming flights. Non-intrusive inspection at the airport ensures that prohibited and restricted items including agricultural products are intercepted and detected whilst improving the efficient processing of passengers. The Branch processed a total of 265,301 passengers in 2021 and 381,791 in 2023. This represents approximately 13% of the overall passenger arrivals. 



Air Cargo and Mail Processing Facilities  

The CIB operations also extend to the processing of incoming and outgoing cargo at the airport cargo facilities as well as mail and parcels at the Jamaica Customs Mail and Parcels Center. Through the use of the scanning technology thousands of parcels and mail can be processed and delivered daily to customers both locally and internationally. 


Nuclear Smuggling Detection Deterrence 

Since 2009, the Branch has been responsible for the Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence Program which is a partnership with the United States Department of Energy. This initiative allows the JCA to monitor the movement of illicit radioactive material traversing our port. Due to Jamaica’s strategic location in the region for global trade the inclusion of this program in our border protection activities greatly assists in preventing our port from being used as a soft target for terrorist transportation of these substances. The JCA are regional leaders in radiation detection and safety whilst supporting our Caribbean neighbours in developing their capacity. 

A total of 69,668 containers have been scanned in 2022 in a bid to detect any traces of radiation contamination in cargo entering or exiting our island. To date the Branch shas made 13 detections of cargo containing radioactive signature, most of which were a direct result of the fallout in Fukushima, Japan. 


Non-intrusive Inspection Visions 

As technology becomes a part of our daily routine, we at the CIB look forward to incorporating more technology into our daily operations. We will modernize the non-intrusive program to include modern equipment, a central image analysis center and better use of risk management. We will also integrate our non-intrusive program with our ASYCUDA World system. This will allow the Branch to process shipments more efficiently thus directing more focus towards high-risk shipments. 


Investigation Branch

The Investigations Branch is an arm of the Border Protection Division; that aims to protect the interest of the Jamaica Customs Agency and by extension the borders of Jamaica. This is done by investigating Customs offences and breaches of any other applicable legislation, such as the Proceeds of Crime Act, to the point where they can be successfully ventilated either administratively or through the courts. The branch is also charged with the responsibility of conducting background verification of persons desirous of pursuing a career in customs brokerage or who applies to the Agency for access to ASYCUDA.


We Investigate matters pursuant to the following legislations

  • Customs Regulations
  • The Jamaica Customs Act
  • The Proceeds of Crime Act


The Investigations Branch also conducts joint investigations with other law enforcement agencies primarily the Financial Investigations Division (FID)

Matters Investigated by the Investigation Branch

  • Breaches of the Customs Act 
  • False declarations
  • Concealments of goods
  • Unlawful removal of goods
  • Importation of restricted and prohibited goods


  • Breaches of the Customs Regulations 
  • Unethical practices of External Stakeholders i.e. Brokers and Broker Clerks


  • Contravention of the Proceeds of Crime Act 
  • Undeclared or declared cash valuing JM$100,000.00 or its equivalent which cannot be sufficiently accounted for


Are you travelling with currency or monetary instruments?

  • Currency or monetary instruments over US$10,000 or its equivalent should be declared on the Immigration/Customs C5 Card and to the Customs Officer when asked.
  • The minimum amount listed in Section 55 of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) is One Hundred Thousand Jamaican Dollars (JM$100,000.00) or its equivalent. Cash is also defined under this section.
  • Documentary proof to establish the source and intended use of the funds should be provided upon arrival and verification of cash.
  • Copies of documents should be notarized by Notary Public and submitted as proof.


Future Initiative

Modernization of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Program

The Jamaica Customs Agency will modernize the approach to non-intrusive inspections by incorporating first world technologies to improve our border protection capabilities. This will also include reliance on risk management and the inclusion of artificial intelligence. This will increase productivity and efficiency at our borders.



The Border Protection Division through the Contraband Enforcement Branch will establish a K9 Unit which will inevitably bolster our capability detections at our ports


About us

Mission Statement
To facilitate trade, protect our borders, optimise revenue collection, through collaborative border management and delivery of high quality customer services and to develop and maintain a team of motivated professional and competent staff.


Jamaica Customs Agency

Customs House
Myers Wharf,
Newport East, Kingston 15
Phone: 876 922 5140-8 | 922 8770-3

Corporate Office
2-4 King Street, Kingston
Phone: 876 948 5151

Opening Hours
Monday - Thursday: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Friday: 8:00am - 4:00pm

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