Information sheet

Useful publications about the history of HM Revenue and Customs

Sheet number 74

Please note that the Border Force National Museum (known as Seized! The Border & Customs Uncovered) is not able to hold public records. If they still exist, you will find them at the National Archives (London), or in the relevant County Records Office.


A few important documents about the history of HM Revenue and Customs are in the Maritime Archives at Merseyside Maritime Museum.

The main subjects are in the following sheets written by the Maritime Archives. They are frequently asked questions and information sheets containing further sources. The information sheets are also downloadable from the Maritime Archives section of National Museums Liverpool’s website.

  • Customs Bills of Entry - official publications about British and Irish trade - Maritime Archives and Library information sheet 6.
  • Customs Bills of Entry Source Guide for Researcher - a useful companion to the previous sheet - Maritime Archives and Library information sheet 7.
  • History of Smuggling - a brief history of smuggling in Britain and HM Customs and Excise. Maritime Archives and Library information sheet 24.
  • Tracing your ancestors who worked in HM Customs and Excise – useful contacts and addresses to help you trace your ancestors (the predecessor of UK Border Force and HM Revenue and Customs) -  Maritime Archives and Library information sheet 44.
  • History of Rummage – a brief look at how officers searched for contraband - Maritime Archives and Library information sheet 73.
  • The jobs they did – the often strange job titles, and what they mean. Available soon.
  • Maritime history
  • Emigration

Issues surrounding contemporary slavery and people trafficking can be seen on the International Slavery Museum section of this website.

Further information – book list

If you would like to find out more about the history of the Customs and Excise we have downloadable book list - Maritime Archives and Library information sheet 72.

Please note that the book list does not currently cover immigration and asylum.

Departmental structure changes

Please note that the department has gone through many changes over the last century.

  • Before 1909 Customs and Excise were separate departments. Excise was under the control of the Board of Inland Revenue.
  • Between 1909 – 2005 HM Customs & Excise existed. Inland Revenue and Immigration were separate departments.
  • In 2005 HM Customs & Excise merged with Inland Revenue to establish HM Revenue and Customs.
  • In 2009 the border protection role of HM Revenue and Customs was merged with Immigration to form UK Border Force. The tax collecting activities remain with HM Revenue and Customs.

Border Force National Museum Library

The museum has a library containing published material about the history and work of the HM Revenue and Customs. The library is available for researchers during normal office hours by appointment only.

Do you need any further help?

We hope this information was useful, but if you have any further queries please see 'Useful websites for researchers' or contact us.

Border Force National Museum
Merseyside Maritime Museum
Albert Dock
Liverpool Waterfront
L3 4AQ
Tel 0151 478 4507  
Send an email using this contact form

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