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History of Customs

A customs clearance office as opened at the midway section of the causeway to process customs declarations processing on-site without needing to refer the importers to the main Customs Offices which at that time were located at Mina Salman.


Bahrain joins the WTO (World Trade Organization) and WCO (World Customs Organization).


Constructions starts on the new state-of-the-art Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP) which will be able to receive and berth some of the world’s largest container vessels.


Customs is relocated to new purpose built premises in Hidd, next to the new Khalifa Bin Salman Port.

Customs and Ports organizations are separated, with Ports being transformed into the General Organization of Ports (GOP).

Bahrain formally introduces its first dedicated K9 unit for narcotics, weapons and explosives detection. The unit is used to supplement physical checks and non-intrusive inspection (scanning).


Customs is placed under the control of the Ministry of Interior Shaikh Daij Bin Salman Al Khalifa is succeeded by Maj-Gen Basim Yacob AlHamer as the President of Customs

Bahrain introduces state of the art cargo container scanners to streamline cargo clearance and enhance security.


The new state-of-the-art Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP) is formally opened


Bahrain subscribes to GATT (General Agreement on Tariff and Trade)


The organizational structure of the Directorate General of Customs was reorganized to reflect to be at par with regional and international customs organizations.


To keep pace with international systems, Bahrain became the first county in the region to adopt the RED/GREEN Channel system for customs clearance at Bahrain International Airport.


Duty on Customs for Cigarettes and tobacco products raised to 100% (calculated by weight or quantity whichever is greater).


Bahrain and member GCC states standardize intra-state Customs procedures and documents under the umbrella of the GCC Customs Law


Bahrain joins the GCC Economic agreement which supports the standardization of the economic policies of the six member states.


To speed up the clearance of goods X-ray inspection machines were introduced, to replace the normal manual intensive inspection regime. Manual inspection was referred to when the x-ray machines highlighted suspicious items.


A new parcel post customs clearance section was opened at the main Mail Office in Muharraq. Staff employed in this section are tasked with the clearance of parcels received through international mail.


King Fahd Causeway linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia was opened, causing a massive shift in trading patterns, enabling land transport to become an essential foreign trade route for Bahrain. A cargo related customs section was established to handle the formalities associated with the land trade route.


Duty for Alcohol and Spirits rose to 125%


The Customs (& Ports) organization was placed under the control of the Ministry of Finance and renamed as the Directorate General of Customs.


Increased commercial activities customs moved in to new much larger premises constructed near Mina Salman port. The close proximity of the new building to the port helped speed up the customs clearance process for traders, who previously had to travel between the port and the customs offices in Manama to process their declarations.


The Foreign Trade Statistics section of the customs organization was separated and attached to the Central Statistics Bureau.


A New customs clearance office was opened at Bahrain International Airport to undertake the customs clearance of air cargo received at the airport.


The port of Mina Salman was officially inaugurated soon becoming the principle port in Bahrain, allowing giant ships to berth in Bahrain for the first time.


Customs and Ports Departments were merged into one organization to form the Directorate of Customs & Ports.


One of the first customs laws in the Arabian Gulf region was issued when the Government of Bahrain issued the Bahraini Customs Law. Due to the increase in trade traffic and, the need emerged to draw up comprehensive rules and regulations for customs and the import and export of goods.


With the tremendous increase in commercial traffic, soon there was the need for another port. Construction started on the new Mina Salman Port in Juffair.


Customs performed the core function of receiving, handling and distributing duty paid on Imports and Exports. In addition customs was tasked with handling customs accounts, compiling statistics, government reports, registration of vessels, issue of pearl diving licenses, the examination of pearls, collection of vessel charter fees (ship tickets) and the monitoring and distribution of foodstuffs.


The old customs administrative office made way for a new stylish building called now called ‘Bab-Al-Bahrain’ (meaning Gateway to Bahrain). This building contained what was then the main gateway to the port from the commercial heart of Manama. Housing various government offices including the Chamber of Commerce. By the end of the 1940’s, customs employed 138 staff


The first formal establishment of a Customs Department in Bahrain.


The ruler of the country decided to enter into an agreement with an Indian Merchant for the collection of taxes. This system of ‘privatised’ collection of duty continued for 35 years.


The first port in Bahrain, the Port of Manama, was built for the loading and unloading of goods.


The first purpose built customs premises were built Manama port, comprising of several building and a purpose built warehouse


A general 5% customs duties (import tax) imposed on all imports without differentiation. The first purpose built customs premises were built Manama port, comprising of several building and a purpose built warehouse.


Mr. Claude De’Grenier a British customs officer was appointed as the first Director of Customs, who setup the organization along the lines of Indian Customs. Bills of Lading were introduced as part of the Customs processes.


Due to the prevalent global recession, in order to increase revenue, customs duties by classification were introduced. Rates of 5% for essential commodities, 10% for luxury goods and 15% for special categories of goods


Bahrain and Saudi Arabia economic agreement was implemented on exchanged customs tax and exemptions for goods in transit through Bahrain destined for Saudi ports.


Due to the growing volume of work customs premises were expanded to include further adjacent buildings to enable customs to carry out their duties. During this time customs employed 46 staff.


As a result of the serious economic problems caused by World War II. Excessive hoarding essential commodities caused massive hikes in prices. The government intervened to rescue poorer consumers, by establishing a rationing department attached to the customs organization, whose role was to monitor prices and distribute foodstuffs fairly so that it was available to all.