On 20 September 1888, Port Moresby and Samarai were proclaimed as the very first Customs ports.
Customs commemorated this day with a range of festivities exactly 100 years later.
Although no proper written history of Papua New Guinea Customs was kept, records maintained by the Australian Administration reveal that two Customs Officers from Queensland came to the then Territory of Papua in 1888 to set up Customs posts.
On 16 January 1966, 78 years after the proclamation of the ports, the first six Papua New Guineans were recruited and trained as Customs officers.
Actual trading records in Papua New Guinea date back to 1884 when Great Britain claimed Papua for the Crown and Germany claimed New Guinea. With the subsequent increase in trading came laws to impose Customs duty on imported goods to raise revenue for the administration.
During his term as Administrator of Papua, Sir William MacGregor, had Ordinance IV of 1888 passed by the Legislative Council to adopt certain Queensland laws relating to Customs known then as "the Customs adopting Ordinance 1888." That piece of legislation actually outlined the structure and general business of Customs administration.
During the 1890s when the country was divided into two Territories, each had its own set of Customs regulations.
The Customs Act of Papua, known then as Customs Ordinance 1901- 1939, defined Customs as "the Department of Trade and Customs."
While the Treasurer was responsible for the overall operation of Customs, Collectors of Customs controlled the then four ports in Papua. By far the busiest were Port Moresby and Samarai.
The Territory of New Guinea also had amongst its laws the Customs Ordinance 1921 – 1941 which gave affect to the existence of the defined Customs in the same way as Papua.
After World War II Papua and New Guinea was administered by Australia and the current Customs Act dates from 1952, although it has seen a number of amendments since that time. Ports and staff numbers increased until independence from Australia in 1975 created the State of Papua New Guinea. Now Customs has some 24 Customs posts across the country.
In 1991 the Government merged Customs with the Taxation office known as the Internal Revenue Commission of Papua New Guinea (IRC). Since the merger the Customs Service has been an operating Division of the IRC.
On 21 June 2001 Customs became a member of the World Customs Organisation (WCO), a body of 168 member countries whose objective is the simplification and harmonisation of Customs procedures as articulated in the Revised Kyoto Convention. Customs is currently undertaking a modernisation program to bring our practices and procedures into line with the requirements of the Convention.
An outwardly looking administration, Customs is actively involved in the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Sub Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) and the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) a body representing Customs Administrations in the South Pacific region.
Customs role in the region is changing from one of revenue collection to border protection and Papua New Guinea Customs is keen to remain at the forefront of that change.