Preventive Directorate


Preventive Directorate is the main law enforcement arm of Sri Lanka Customs, having surveillance overall aperational areas of Customs, particularly the seaports, waterfronts, waterways and the territorial-waters, international airports, Free Trade Zones, Export Processing Zones, Goods Examination Yards and inland clearance depots.

It consists of several branches, namely, Administration, “P” Branch, Operations, Investigations, Marine, Mega-port Surveillance, Sales, Central Disposal Unit and several sub preventive offices established around the Island at strategically located coastal cities.


The scope of the Preventive Directorate basically focuses on the enforcement aspect by way of prevention of smuggling, commercial frauds and other offences while safeguarding the socio economic, cultural and environmental interests of the country by being operative on broader protection routines at all the sea and airports.

Major Functions

1. Preventing smuggling, commercial frauds, and drug offences.

The Location of the Fort Preventive office changed and the Branches situated in the main office were shifted to 03 places inside and outside the of the Colombo port. Currently the Preventive Admin Branch and the Director of Preventive office are located in the Customs Head Quarters. In addition to that, there are several ”Sub-preventive Offices” located in major coastal cities, namely. Trincomalee, Galle, Koggala, Negombo, Sinnapadu Hambanthota Beruwala and Katunayake. Preventive Officers stationed in those offices have actively and effectively taken steps to prevent smuggling of goods, commercial frauds and drug offences, inwards and outwards. Further to that, preventive officers stationed in Free Trade Zones also have carried out operations to prevent leakage of dutiable goods from those zones.

2. Detections, seizures, investigations and prosecutions.

Preventive Directorate receives information about various Customs-offences (smuggling, commercial frauds, and drug offences) mainly from the following two sources:
   a) Private informants of the officers attached to the Preventive Directorate.
   b) Public informants

In addition to those, the Preventive Officers were able to detect on their own initiative several frauds by perusing the cargo manifest:s and imports clearance documents. The use of online facility to detect the fraudulent consignees has reached a higher level compared to the perusal of hard copies of manifests as well as the CusDecs.

Acting on intelligence gathered the Preventive Directorate has conducted raids and seizures and was able to detect uncustomed goods which have been smuggled or imported without declaring to Customs. Investigations and prosecution of cases were conducted by the preventive officers.

3. Safeguarding socio economic, cultural, ecological and environmental interests of the country, and enforcement of related laws and regulations.

Preventive Directorate has been able to safeguard socio economic, cultural, ecological and environmental interests of the country through its operations.
In addition to the regulations under the Customs Ordinance, officers of the Preventive Directorate ensure the compliance with other laws and regulations such as—

  1. Arms & Ammunitions Act
  2. Flora &Fauna Act
  3. Import & Export Control Act
  4. Cosmetic, Devices & Drugs Act
  5. Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Act
  6. Food and Drug Act
  7. Exchange Control Act
  8. Intellectual Property Act

4. Surveillance of Colombo seaport, other seaports, Free Trade Zones and Bandaranaike International Airport

Surveillance of Colombo seaport is done by two of the divisions of the Directorate, namely, the Fort Preventive Office and the Kochchikade Preventive Office, which are in charge of the surveillance of Fort area and Kochchikade area respectively.

Bandaranaike International Airport and the Katunayake Free Trade Zone are supervised by the Sub- preventive Office at Naikanda, while the Biyagama Sub-preventive Office supervises the Biyagama Free Trade Zone.

5. Control of vessels movements and border operations

Supervising the movement of vessels at the four main harbors (including Hambantota port) is one of the responsibilities of the Preventive Directorate. While those activities in Colombo Harbor are supervised by the Fort Preventive Office, such activities in Galle, Trincomalee and Hambantota are supervised by the sub preventive offices established at those respective ports.

Harbor Duty Officer is deployed at the Fort Preventive Office round the clock to carry out the functions of controlling the vessel movements. He boards the vessels that calls over at the Colombo port and makes sure that those vessels have obtained the clearance from the ”last port of call” to enter the Colombo port. Further, he checks the ISO crew declaration etc. It is one of the responsibilities of the vessel’s local agent (acting as the representative of the captain of the respective vessel)to declare and submit the inward cargo manifest, transshipment cargo manifest and the details of transit cargo contained in each vessel calling over at port of Colombo.

Each departing vessel is granted ”Outward Clearance” by the Harbor Duty Officer, having satisfied that all the related requirements are fulfilled by the vessel’s local agent who is acting as the representative of the captain of the respective vessel.

6. Disposal of goods forfeited by Sri Lanka Customs

Central Disposal Unit is entrusted with the disposal of seized and forfeited goods of various Directorates and Units of the whole Department. The provisions at the Customs Ordinance authorize the disposal of forfeited goods by public auction, and the Tender Sales Procedure established under the Financial Regulations is followed at such auctions.

Branches of Preventive Directorate

The Preventive Directorate is one of the Directorate that come under the Enforcement Cluster and is headed by the Director of Customs (Preventive). It is further divided into five divisions under Deputy Directors (DDC)

DDC (Preventive Admin)

Preventive Admin Branch

Preventive Admin Branch attends to the Human Resource Management of the Preventive Directorate. Internal Transfers, Disciplinary matters and appointing for the training etc of the officers and other staff are handled by this division

SPO (Naikanda)

Surveillance of the Katunayake Area included the BIA is covered by this office. The movement of cargo, inward and outward through air cargo and the operations of the BOI are being kept under strict scrutiny and several cases of frauds have been apprehended recently.

Out Ports

The ports that come under the Preventive Directorate are situated in Negombo, Beruwala and Sinnapadu. The offices act as the surveillance arm of the Preventive Directorate in relavent areas.

DDC (Preventive Surveillance)

Preventive Investigation Branch

The cases which need expertise and experience in the investigations are handled by this branch. Investigations pertaining to any cases initiated by any branch of the Directorate, if they need to be deeply and thoroughly investigated, will be handled over to Investigation Branch

Marine Division

The out harbour vessel operations in the Port of Colombo and the matters related to the oil bunkering of vessels are being handled by the Marine Division at the moment. A fleet of new vessels to be purchased soon and fulltime marine operations will commence thereafter

Mobile Unit

This unit specifically monitors the movement of containers and LCL cargo and detains any suspicious consignments and causes investigations. It also monitors whether the containers have reached their assigned destinations. (GL 1 && GL 11 )

DDC (Preventive Coordination)

Operations Division

All cases produced by outside establishments are taken over and handled by this Division. All operational work within the Port of Colombo is also handled by this Division.

P Branch

All cases are registered at P Branch and the central case register of the Preventive Directorate is maintained at this Branch. Reward distribution of all cases finalized with proceeds is carried out by the officers of this unit. P Branch is the custodian of all finalized Preventive case files.

Gate Office

Monitoring and Deploying of staff to the all the Gates of the Colombo seaport as well as the Preventive Gates within the close proximity is the main task of the Gates office. Smooth and rapid movement of consignments through the gates is ensured by this Office

Preventive Sales Division

All goods forfeited by the Preventive Directorate are prepared and listed for disposal by this unit. They are the custodian of keys of all the Preventive Warehouses and yards.

DDC (Cetral Disposal)
Central Disposal Unit

Central Disposal unit attends to the disposal of all the goods forfeited by any Division of the Customs Department. Goods are disposed by Tender sale/ Auction and goods not fit for human consumption are destroyed.

Orugodawatte Preventive Yard

Containers forfeited by the Preventive Branches are secured in this yard

DDC (Preventive Examination)
Preventive Examination yard (Gray Line 11 Yard at Grandpass)

All the containers detained and needed to examined by the Preventive Directorate are transferred to this yard to be examined by the officers of this Division.