Seized! The Border and Customs uncovered

Border Force National Museum

museum display about drugs and smuggling

Enter the world of the Customs officer - a dark and unseen world of smuggling, intrigue and danger, where things are not always what they seem.

One of the Seized! gallery's key themes is anti smuggling. This includes detective work, crime fighting, patrolling frontiers and investigation. In uncovering this story you will reveal some of the clever tactics of the criminal, and discover some of the methods to catch them.

A second theme explores the importance of raising taxes, how the are collected, and how we have reacted to them.

We tell a contemporary story, balanced with a view of the past. We explore issues of fairness and safety in society, affecting all of us today.

Matt's trail

cartoon graphic of a customs officer

Younger visitors can download Matt's gallery trail, and see if you can find him when you visit.

What's on this website

  • Case studies from the gallery
    Extreme measures to control smuggling, such as the burning of the fishing fleet near Dover in the 18th century. Or you may remember the protests against fuel duty, when the price of petrol was felt to be a burden by many.
  • Display highlights from Seized!
    Our galleries reveal some of the unique seizures used for criminal activity. Discover how wooden carvings were used to conceal 21kg of cocaine. Or explore how the trade in endangered birds crosses Europe to conclude in a small farm in North Yorkshire. Our objects also tell stories of how officers did their job.
  • Behind the scenes object highlights
    From machine guns to a painting of a Customs gig (boat) at work, see a selection of objects not often seen by visitors.
  • Useful publications for researchers
    Suggested sources of information about the work of UK Border Force or HM Revenue and Customs..
  • Useful websites for researchers
    Links to websites with further information about the work of UK Border Force or HM Revenue and Customs.
  • Who we are and what's our mission
    What makes Seized! The Border & Customs Uncovered?

The museum can be found in the basement of Merseyside Maritime Museum. We are a unique partnership between National Museums Liverpool, the UK Border Force and HM Revenue and Customs.

UK Border Force and HM Revenue and Customs aim to help ensure that our way of life is fair, safe, civilised and protected. Find out more in the Seized! gallery at the museum or on this website.