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Customs Investigation Service

The task of the Customs Investigation Service is to combat customs crime. For criminal prosecution, this service may therefore collect various personal data and intervene widely in informational self-determination.

two customs officers from behind and on the back view of the service uniform is the inscription customs
Source: Adobe Stock

The Customs Investigation Service consists of the Customs Criminological Office and eight subordinate customs investigation offices. It deals with offences ranging from moderate to organised customs crime. The main work is carried out in the customs investigation offices. They prosecute, for example, cigarette and drug smuggling.

As a central office, the Customs Criminological Office coordinates the activities of the customs investigation offices. This includes the management of the so-called “Customs Investigation Information System” (INZOLL). An electronic system in which the customs authorities store data on customs offences committed. The Customs Criminological Office only starts its own investigations if particularly serious crimes are suspected, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

In the case of investigations, the Customs Investigation Service has all the powers of the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) at its disposal in concrete criminal proceedings. Intensive interventions may therefore be carried out in the collection of data. For example: Wiretapping of telephone calls and private homes, observing, photographing and filming of persons concerned and also the deployment of covert investigators. These means can be used in consultation with the Public Prosecutor’s Office if there is initial suspicion that a particularly serious crime has been committed.

In addition, the Customs Investigation Service also has extensive powers for the processing of personal data for the purpose of averting dangers. This means that the authorities can not only investigate crimes committed, but can act well in advance of a suspected offence. The basis is the Act on the Customs Criminological Office and Customs Investigation Offices, in short: Customs Investigation Service Act (ZfdG).

Your rights vis-à-vis the Customs Investigation Service:

What are my rights?

In order to find out whether your data are stored in the Customs Investigation Information System, you can ask the Customs Criminological Office whether there are any data about you.

Depending on the reply of the customs criminal authority, you also have the right to information pursuant to Section 57 of the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG), the right to rectification, erasure or restriction of processing according to Section 58 of the BDSG and the right to lodge a complaint with the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI) pursuant to Section 60 of the BDSG.

If the Customs Criminological Office refuses all or part of the information to you, you may request the BfDI to exercise the right of information on your behalf pursuant to Section 58 para. 7 of the BDSG. 

Whom should I contact?

You can first exercise your rights vis-à-vis the controller.

Contact details of the Customs Criminological Office:

Postfach 85 05 62
51030 Köln

Telephone: 0221 672-0

If your request concerns the processing of data at the local authorities, you can contact the data protection officer of the competent customs investigation office. The relevant contact details of the customs offices search.

Where can I file a complaint?

In general, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Federal Commissioner pursuant to Section 60 of the BDSG, if you suspect a breach of your personal data by the Customs Investigation Service.

Der Bundesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz und die Informationsfreiheit
Graurheindorfer Str. 153
53117 Bonn
Or also to:


The Central Office for Financial Transaction Investigations (FIU) à abbreviated “FIU” (derived from the international designation “Financial Intelligence Unit”) is also affiliated to the Customs Criminological Office. It derives its powers exclusively from the more specific Money Laundering Act (GwG).