Have you ever as a serviceman been stopped by Customs on return to UK

Totally non-Services related but as we have gone slightly off topic I hope I can be indulged.

A bit of background, SWMBO has a penchant for knock-off designer gear, not the sort of old tat you buy off Chicken George in Tenerife. She likes to go to specialist Chinese shops in Kuala Lumpur where she claims (I remain to be convinced) she can get stuff that is virtually identical to the Real McCoy at a tenth of the price. Anyway we had been back home for a couple of weddings and prior to the trip she had splashed out on "Gucci" and "Versace" handbags, she even bought me a half-decent looking "Rolex". Now anyone who knows me would know I would never buy such a thing, so while at home I had much fun showing it off and telling everyone what a great fake it was, which annoyed her immensely (in hindsight of course because it would lead people to question her own gear).

Anyhoo, coming back to KL through UAE I took the opportunity to buy a load of duty free booze, well over the limit but I had blagged my way through customs before and knew I could usually get away with the extra bottle or two. As we were travelling en famille I reckoned I would chance my arm a bit, much to my missus' irritation, convinced as she was that the entire family would be arrested for smuggling as I had stashed the bottles in various bags, including my little girl's Frozen case.

When we went through customs a stern-faced female customs official in a hijab at the X-ray machine immediately pulled all our bags and demanded we open them. My wife was thunderstruck, she was ready to kill me, the mortification! We'd probably all be flogged in the town square. However, it was her case they were rummaging through, especially all those nice bags carefully wrapped like new in their satin cases. Apparently we had landed in the middle of a big crackdown announced by customs on the profligate smuggling of expensive gear into Malaysia amounting to millions of ringgit, and here it looked like they had caught a kingpin (queenpin?).

I sheepishly indicated the bags full of booze only for an officer to impatiently wave them away as being of no importance, I piled the luggage cart as I explained to the fretful kids that with luck Mummy would only be doing a year or two in jail for her crimes. Eventually my wife had to explain to the customs bods they were all fakes and told them the shops in KL where she had purchased the gear, this seemed to convince them and they finally let her go on her way.

But not without one agonising little insult to injury to my poor wife, the woman in the hijab, picked one of the finer Louis Vuitton bags and smugly said "Yeah, now that I look at it, this stuff is definitely fake".
On the subject of "artfully produced" knock off gear, the Brit mess at PSAB always looked like downtown hollywood with the number of pairs of designer jeans, Tommy Hilfiger polo shirts and Tag Heur watches on display. Pity the bodies wearing them looked more like downtown Camden Market.....

The big thing in those days was the Argos catalogue. Your rellies at home would send out a bluey with a page and item reference, you would look up what it was they wanted then go down the local market and pick out the closest thing you could find. That and Cat boots, for some reason Caterpillar boots were the must have fashion accessory in council estates all across the UK....
 
Fat Cav, When was this? It fits the profile of an RCT half-colonel who was CO of AMF(L) Logistics Regiment in the late 1970's. I made his acquaintance on an airfield in Denmark in 1979 when he b0llocked me rigid for not saluting his landrover. He turned up on Exercise Coldwinter in 1980 and, talking to the REME guys, was told that he'd been putting on Part Ones that all ranks would salute his wife when she drove around the camp in his civvie car - I never found out his name, but he was a genuine, grade A arrsehole. Fortunately, I was attached to Force Artillery, whose CO was an absolute gentleman - good RSM too.
People like that must have more than their fair share of antibodies because the only un-skiffed brews they would ever have consumed would have been self-made. Even their wives would have skiffed their brews, I like to think.
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
People like that must have more than their fair share of antibodies because the only un-skiffed brews they would ever have consumed would have been self-made. Even their wives would have skiffed their brews, I like to think.
Skiffing is for amateurs
 

sarnian

War Hero
@LeoRoverman exactly how much discretion are customs officers allowed? I cant imaging in this day and age anybody would be able/willing to turn a blind eye at the sight of a MOD90.
[/QUOTE]

Most units = waved through, little interest
HDiv = getting the rubber gloves out
 

Sgt_Steiner

Old-Salt
Bit higher, SO s or HEOs we’re technically 2 1/2 stripes so Major equivalent/ CI + equivalents Police. Certainly in uniformed branch. But there’s the problem with CS grades.
I was a Level 3/ C1 in DE&S (MOD) and SEO. Our HEOs were Level 2/ C2 grade. There does seem to be some disparity across the wider CS.
 
Skiffing is for amateurs
My exLeader was a Dental Nurse. Allegedly they had an utter rsole of a patient, or he had upset a friend or whatever, BUT they handed the dentist syringes of saline rather than anaesthetic........

The dentist was unaware of this accident.

After three syringes the patient was told to stop being such a wuss and work proceeded.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
I was a Level 3/ C1 in DE&S (MOD) and SEO. Our HEOs were Level 2/ C2 grade. There does seem to be some disparity across the wider CS.
At the Computer Centre, Worthy Down, most of the civvy "troops" were EOs with the occasional noob AO. It was said that the Civil Service would rather work with captains, "their peers" (entry level for officer programmers) than sergeants (ditto soldiers).

They introduced corporal programmers before I left, desperate for manpower (nothing whatever to do with training young soldiers to transfer instantly to a big job in civvy street, and only making it worse for themselves. I jumped in part because I looked at the pay differential and time to immediate pension).

I was never aware of antipathy from the civvies.
 
It won't be the MOD 90 as does it. Bear in mind old days are gone, Personally I never gave a toss unless it was taking the piss, a bottle here or there an extra pack of OH ain't gonna break the chancellor, I seen enough to know some people are kinky but harmless, neither of which are offences. Notice 1 tells you the allowances or the Minimum Indicative allowances MILs. But the chances of you being done for a breach are probably very low now.
Most of the customs dealing with Europe never seemed to give a toss about the Army in the last few years, most bases have closed in mainland Europe and squaddies going on exercise in the few places in Germany still open are lucky if they are allowed rationed itemed and those that do cant build up a stock because they aren't there long enough, thanks to the "bargains" that NAAFI used to sell there were rarely massive savings on booze. The days of squaddies (From Europe) coming back with a vehicle packed to bursting point with tax free goodies are just about over. You might get the odd one or two from those in the few remaining bases but not like the good old days when 1000s of them were doing it.
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
As a complete aside … Do ANY breweries still use wooden casks ?
I've seen some being unloaded by a small brewery near here, but they may have been painted metal ones as I only caught a glimpse.
They are still being made, so presumably, there is a market
 
Most of the customs dealing with Europe never seemed to give a toss about the Army in the last few years, most bases have closed in mainland Europe and squaddies going on exercise in the few places in Germany still open are lucky if they are allowed rationed itemed and those that do cant build up a stock because they aren't there long enough, thanks to the "bargains" that NAAFI used to sell there were rarely massive savings on booze. The days of squaddies (From Europe) coming back with a vehicle packed to bursting point with tax free goodies are just about over. You might get the odd one or two from those in the few remaining bases but not like the good old days when 1000s of them were doing it.
1000s of us, Shirley?
 
Back in the Dark Ages I did an exchange with Brigade North in Bardufoss. About to catch a civvy flight down to Oslo I saw a Herc ticking over on dispersal and, thinking “why not” caught the Loadie’s attention and asked if they were bound for Lynham and, if so, could I have a lift. The skipper asked if I had anybody that could vouch for me and I said that Rickshaw Senior was in the ops tower at Lynham. My description of Senior (tallbloke, old as earth, last of the Biggles generation) earned me a seat home.
So, it’s silly o’clock in the morning and Lynham is as quiet as King Tut’s tomb. Past the customs area and suddenly the last reject from the Stasi pops up from behind the counter. He asked where I’d been and did I have anything to declare. Nope. Nada. Nichts. Open your bags comes the instruction. I did agree to my Bergan and webbing being checked over but suggested he might like to give my kit bag a miss. Fellah’s eyes light up and he goes all pompous. I tell him that I have just spent several weeks living in what we now call a “spartan” environment and he really might want to pass. Nope. I swear that as I opened my bag a puff of green smoke came out as some of the most foul pre-dhobi kit and swamp-soaked boots were fed oxygen.
Now, a reasonable bloke would have called it a day but no, the Customs Service’s finest was not going to back off. I had to lay out all my kit. He was almost as green as my issue Drawers drac by this stage but en shifted attention to my bergan. My Norge hosts had been very generous and out came a couple of unit plaques, a series of unit steins, a reindeer fur rug, a stuffed ermine (this is not an euphemism), an engraved lap knife and sundry other ephemera. To each item I am asked the monetary value. I am struggling to keep calm and polite but I’m at the end of a long few weeks, a Fat Albert taxi ride and the knowledge that Senior, who has a very short fuse, is waiting outside to take me home. I know that this little pedant can make my life unpleasant but the urge to pull him over the counter and breathe on him (very pungent reindeer sausage was my in flight snack) is almost overwhelming. Just for once, the gods smile on me and having in to view is a much older and experienced guy who take one look at me, smells what has come out of my kit and asked junior guy if there’s is anything to be confiscated or duty charged and, before the little runt can begin says “right, thank you. You’re free to go sir”.
Welcome home. And then I got bollocked by Senior for keeping him hanging around the terminal.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
My uncle lives in LA and I used to go out there fairly frequently to visit. He’s only 10 years older than me so more like an older brother.

Anyway first time through LAX and I’m filling out the immigration card. I leave the bit that says “address while in US” blank. I don’t know the address. My uncle is just gonna pick me up from the airport and take me back to his.

I get to the desk, the bird is Hispanic, she barely even speaks English.

“You need to put your address.”

I helpfully explain the situation.

She doesn’t get it.

I have no means of contacting my uncle to get his address, he’s stood in the arrivals lounge waiting for me. He doesn’t own a mobile phone.

I explain this.

She still doesn’t get it.

More Hispanic people in uniforms rock up. They have guns.

None of them get it.

After nearly an hour of this shit I just say:

“**** it, I’m staying at the Hilton. Hollywood Hilton.”

I don’t even know if there is a Hilton in Hollywood but it’s a pretty safe gamble.

And that’s it, they just put Hollywood Hilton on the form and let me go. No more questions.
I travel around 200 days a year and thats a lot of hotels. As a rule, I stay in Marriotts and so its just easier to put down Marriott Hotel, CITY. 1) its always worked 2) its a simple mistake to make if it turns out you're at another hotel 3) its a bit posh and therefore less dodgy 4) Immigration don't have an exhaustive list of hotels so it sounds gen.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
ETA/Thread drift. Driving home on leave from Germany I stopped at the tolls on the Forth Road Bridge. I realised I had no UK£ and explained to the toll keeper as such, and offered to pay the 55p toll by cheque, expecting to be waved through. I was astonished when she said yes. I was more astonished when said cheque was cashed. She would have made a fine member of Aberdeen's HMRC.
No thats fine, they have your VRN and if it bounced could track you for payment that way.

As a similar tale, 17th May 2019 I flew into BKK and grabbed a rental to drive to Pattaya. At the first road-toll out of BKK it turns out that, no, they don't take visa. So I had to leave my car at the barrier (right there blocking the lane) jump in the barrier operators car and then with a spare cop, the three of us drove up the motorway, to a local 7-11 with an ATM where I grabbed the requisite few hundred THB (and a few thousand extra in case) and I bought both the boys a couple of cokes. Back the Barrier, into my car, pay the guy that just drove me around and off I go.
 

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I travel around 200 days a year and thats a lot of hotels. As a rule, I stay in Marriotts and so its just easier to put down Marriott Hotel, CITY. 1) its always worked 2) its a simple mistake to make if it turns out you're at another hotel 3) its a bit posh and therefore less dodgy 4) Immigration don't have an exhaustive list of hotels so it sounds gen.
Yep. About 15 years ago, a rough-arsed Dundonian who worked for me tried to be clever and put down our US Sales Manager's home address on trip to Houston. It escalated quickly when the Border Agent couldn't decipher Hilltoon-Scots, and resulted in said Sales Manager having to travel to the airport to vouch for him and bail him out....the following morning.
 
Back in the Dark Ages I did an exchange with Brigade North in Bardufoss. About to catch a civvy flight down to Oslo I saw a Herc ticking over on dispersal and, thinking “why not” caught the Loadie’s attention and asked if they were bound for Lynham and, if so, could I have a lift. The skipper asked if I had anybody that could vouch for me and I said that Rickshaw Senior was in the ops tower at Lynham. My description of Senior (tallbloke, old as earth, last of the Biggles generation) earned me a seat home.
So, it’s silly o’clock in the morning and Lynham is as quiet as King Tut’s tomb. Past the customs area and suddenly the last reject from the Stasi pops up from behind the counter. He asked where I’d been and did I have anything to declare. Nope. Nada. Nichts. Open your bags comes the instruction. I did agree to my Bergan and webbing being checked over but suggested he might like to give my kit bag a miss. Fellah’s eyes light up and he goes all pompous. I tell him that I have just spent several weeks living in what we now call a “spartan” environment and he really might want to pass. Nope. I swear that as I opened my bag a puff of green smoke came out as some of the most foul pre-dhobi kit and swamp-soaked boots were fed oxygen.
Now, a reasonable bloke would have called it a day but no, the Customs Service’s finest was not going to back off. I had to lay out all my kit. He was almost as green as my issue Drawers drac by this stage but en shifted attention to my bergan. My Norge hosts had been very generous and out came a couple of unit plaques, a series of unit steins, a reindeer fur rug, a stuffed ermine (this is not an euphemism), an engraved lap knife and sundry other ephemera. To each item I am asked the monetary value. I am struggling to keep calm and polite but I’m at the end of a long few weeks, a Fat Albert taxi ride and the knowledge that Senior, who has a very short fuse, is waiting outside to take me home. I know that this little pedant can make my life unpleasant but the urge to pull him over the counter and breathe on him (very pungent reindeer sausage was my in flight snack) is almost overwhelming. Just for once, the gods smile on me and having in to view is a much older and experienced guy who take one look at me, smells what has come out of my kit and asked junior guy if there’s is anything to be confiscated or duty charged and, before the little runt can begin says “right, thank you. You’re free to go sir”.
Welcome home. And then I got bollocked by Senior for keeping him hanging around the terminal.
I feel for you, but turn it around the other way for a minute. At one particular ferry terminal we were waving trucks through and one of our gang pulled one over. That nose started twitching. On the surface not a thing wrong couldn't fault truckie, normal; pleasantries or not this was a bulker so the Gantry was called for and this one had three hatches on top. plus dippers. so he pulls the first one out- liquid no probs, Moves to the next one- dips... nothing- calls for the entry. It's apparently a full load. Anyhow up goes the lid and he calls for a ladder. So up goes the lightweight and me oppo disappears into the belly of the beast- suddenly we hear a disembodied voice- I'm gonna need a few siezure bags in 'ere. He'd got near a ton of HR in the centre pot.
 

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