A border guard of a country is a national security agency that performs border security, i.e., enforces the security of the country's national borders. Some of the national border guard agencies also perform coast guard (as in Germany or Ukraine) and rescue service duties.
Name and uniform
In different countries, names of particular border guard services vary significantly. The service may be called "police", "guard", "troops" or "sentinel" and the name would refer to the nation's official term for the state border - whether it is "frontier" or "border".
Most border guards of the world use dark green-colored elements on their uniform, insignia or flags.
Typical tasks of a Border Guard are:
- Controlling and guarding a nation's borders;
- Controlling border crossing persons, vehicles, and travel documents;
- Preventing illegal border crossing of persons, vehicles, cargoes and other goods;
- Controlling transportation of prohibited and limited items (e.g. weapons, ammunition, toxic substances, narcotics) over the national border;
- Supervising and controlling the observation of foreigner residence regulations, visa regime;
- Preventing the movement of goods and other articles over national borders, bypassing the customs control;
- Investigating cases related to offenses against the national border.
- Systematic and permanent observation of the state border space, from land, sea or air, by visual, electronic or other modern means of surveillance and protection, with the purpose of detecting, alerting and / or preventing possible violations in the international limit; It also involves verification and reporting on the maintenance and conservation of the Border Landmarks.
- Prevent to criminals, escapees from prisons or fugitives from the internal justice of the country evade and flee to other nations to evade the action of national justice
- Exchange all types of information and cooperate with other national agencies and counterparts in other countries, as well as with international organizations specializing in migration, border control, customs control, sanitary control, phytosanitary control and security to assist in the implementation of actions against the illicit trafficking of migrants, trafficking in persons, crimes related to transnational organized crime, terrorism, illegal trafficking in arms and explosives, corruption, drug trafficking and against the diversion, for illegal purposes, of dual-use goods and other activities related
- The Border Guard may also perform delegated customs and immigration control duties.
During wartime more militarized Border Guard services may be transferred to be under the control of a country's armed forces, if it is not so already.
Border guards by country
The Australian Border Force (ABF), is a part of the Department of Home Affairs, responsible for offshore and onshore border control enforcement, investigations, compliance and detention operations in Australia. The Force was established on 1 July 2015 merging the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service with the immigration detention and compliance functions of the then Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
The ABF is a law enforcement agency operating under the Australian Border Force Act 2015 with broadened legislative powers including the introduction of sworn officers. A new uniform was introduced and following the transition there was increase in the number of officers authorised to carry firearms.
Border Guards Bangladesh is a paramilitary border security and anti-smuggling force under the Ministry of Home Affairs of Bangladesh. BGB can trace back its origin to the establishment of the Ramgarh Local Battalion in 1695. This force is lightly armed and although its primary duty is to protect the border, during national emergencies it can also be called upon to aid the government.
Canada Border Services Agency is a law enforcement agency of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Created in 2003, it amalgamated the enforcement activities performed by three separate government entities (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency). Traditionally unarmed, the arming of Border Services Officers, Investigators, and Inland Enforcement Officers began in 2007 and was scheduled to be completed by 2016. Officers are found at entry points to Canada (airports, marine entry points, and land crossing points with the United States. Along with United States Border Patrol, the CBSA is responsible for guarding the longest border in the world.
Alien Police Service is a highly specialized unit of the police of the Czech Republic, which carries out functions relating to the detection of illegal migration, application of punitive measures against foreigners staying in the Czech Republic in violation of the law no. 326/1999 Coll. On the residence of foreigners in the Czech Republic and amending certain laws, as amended laws, the tasks arising from international agreements and directly applicable European Community legislation and solving the crimes committed in connection with the crossing of the state border and cross-border crime. The Alien Police Service was established by the Ministry of Interior no. 67/2008 establishing units of the Police of the Czech Republic nationwide.
Alien Police of the Czech Republic is divided into:
Alien Police Service Directorate - is within the specified range managing, methodological and control department with jurisdiction throughout the Czech Republic and is directly subordinate to the Police Presidium of the Czech Republic
Alien Police Unions in the regional directorates of individual regions
- Department of residence controls, search and escort
- Department of residence matters
- Department documents and specialized activities
- Documentation Department
- Department of International Relations (only in border areas)
The Egyptian Border Guard is under the control of the Ministry of Defence (Egypt). The Border Guard is a lightly armed paramilitary unit of about 25,000 personnel, responsible for border surveillance, general peacekeeping, drug interdiction, and prevention of smuggling. During the late 1980s, the force was equipped with remote sensors, night-vision binoculars, communications vehicles, and high-speed motorboats.
The Finnish Border Guard (Finnish: Rajavartiolaitos; Swedish: Gränsbevakningsväsendet), including the coast guard, is the agency responsible for border control related to persons, including passport control and border patrol. The Border Guard is a paramilitary organization, subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior in administrative issues and to the President of the Republic in issues pertaining to the president's authority as Commander-in-Chief (e.g. officer promotions). The Finland-Russia border is a controlled border, routinely patrolled and protected by a border zone enforced by the Border Guard. Borders to Norway and Sweden are open borders, but the Border Guard maintains personnel in the area owing to its search and rescue (SAR) duties. There are two coast guard districts for patrolling maritime borders. The Border Guard has also detachments posted at ports and airports. In peacetime, the Border Guard trains special forces and light infantry and can be incorporated fully or in part into the Finnish Defence Forces when required by defence readiness. The Border Guard has police and investigative powers in immigration matters and can independently investigate immigration violations. The Border Guard has search and rescue (SAR) duties, both maritime and inland. The Guard operates SAR helicopters that are often used in inland SAR, in assistance of a local fire and rescue department or other authorities. The Border Guard shares border control duties with Finnish Customs, which inspects arriving goods, and the Finnish Police, which enforces immigration decisions such as removal.
The French Direction générale des douanes et droits indirects, Directorate-General of Customs and Indirect Taxes is a law enforcement civilian agency responsible for levying indirect taxes, preventing smuggling, surveilling borders and investigating counterfeit money. The agency acts as a coast guard, border guard, sea rescue organisation and a customs service. Though it is a civilian service, agents are armed. In France, it is commonly known as "les douanes", which means customs ("la douane" is a border checkpoint). Agents are referred to as "douaniers", which means customs officers. In the French legal standards, the prosecution carries the burden of proof since the defendant is presumed innocent ; but in customs procedures, the defendant carries the burden of proof.
French Border Police, Police aux frontières or PAF (former Police de l'air et des frontières), also have to monitor the borders and conduct checks in some parts.
In Germany, the Federal Police, a civilian agency subordinated to the Ministry of Interior, is - besides other duties - responsible for border control tasks. Until 2005, the Federal Police was called Federal Border Guard, and originally was a paramilitary organisation having mandatory service in the 1970s, but had its military rank structure changed into a civilian one in the 1970s and lost its wartime combatant status in the 1990s.
The German state of Bavaria reestablished its State Border Police in the aftermath of the European migrant crisis in 2018 again, after it was merged into the Bavarian State Police in 1998 because of the Schengen Agreement.
Border guards in Hong Kong consists of two civilian agencies:
- Customs and Excise officers handling customs duties at ports, airports and land crossing.
- Immigration officers handle people entering ports, airport (1) and land crossings (6) with mainland China.
Hong Kong Police Force officers patrol the border with mainland China, but they are not border guards at entry points. Prior to 1995, this role was performed by British Army units stationed in Hong Kong.
Various police checkpoint booths (boundary crossing) are found along roads and are in the outside Closed Areas. Manned by uniformed Hong Kong Police officers, vehicle occupants must present papers and/or permits in order to proceed to the border. These officers act as informal border guards, which do not exist in Hong Kong as there is no international boundary with mainland China.
All three border agencies are responsibilities of the Security Bureau.
The Frontier Forces are responsible for the border security of Kyrgyzstan. The Frontier Forces are commanded by the interior ministry, but are officially part of the military of Kyrgyzstan. They had many disagreements of the Frontier Service of Uzbekistan and had a military drill with China in August 2013.
The Border Security Force (BSF) is the primary border patrol agency of the Government of India and is presently the largest Border Guarding force of the world.. Established on December 1, 1965, it is a component of the paramilitary forces of India (PMF) and its primary role is to guard India's international borders during peacetime and also prevent transnational crime. Like most paramilitary units of India, the BSF is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs and is headed by an Indian Police Service Officer. It is one of the many law enforcement agencies of India.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is an Indian paramilitary force conceived on October 24, 1962 for security along the India's border with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, border covering 2115 kilometers.
The Sashastra Seema Bal guards the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders.
Border security in Indonesia are conducted:
- At seaports, airports and land crossings : Customs officers oversee traffic of goods and Immigration officers oversee traffic of people.
- At land borders : Guarding and Patrolling of land borders of Indonesia with Malaysia (at Borneo), East Timor, and Papua New Guinea which are mainly within dense forest and mountainous terrains is conducted by the "Border Patrol Task Force" (Satuan Tugas Pengamanan Perbatasan abbreviated Satgas Pamtas), which consist of Infantry battalions from the Indonesian Army.
- At sea borders : Guarding and Patrolling of sea borders are conducted by joint-operation between Maritime Security Agency, Navy, Coast Guard, Maritime Police, Marine and Fisheries Resources Surveillance and Customs.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Border Guard Command is the sole agency responsible for border patrol and control, acting under Law Enforcement Force (which itself is part of Armed Forces of Iran) since 2000. The agency also has coast guard duties in maritime borders. The control of entry points in airports are conducted by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The Israel Border Police operates as a gendarmerie under the supervision of the Israel Police and was founded as part of the frontier corps before it became the Border Police. While its main duty is protecting the borders of Israel, it has also been deployed to be used in helping the Israel Defense Forces in some conflicts, such as the Six-Day War.
In Italy the border police service is covered by the Guardia di Finanza, an Italian law enforcement unit under the command of the Finance Minister; but there is also the Italian Customs Agency, a civilian administration that have the role of Customs Authority. Mostly, the Guardia di Finanza (or Fiamme Gialle) fight against smuggling, illegal drug trafficking, tax evasion and other financial crimes, even jointly to the Customs Agency. Also, many border posts are staffed by Carabinieri. The Immigration and Border Police also performs border police duties.
The State Border Guard Service is the organisation charged with controlling and maintaining the Lithuanian Border. The State Border Guard Service falls under authority of the Ministry of the Interior, which supervises and controls the implementation of border guard policy.
Border patrol and immigration control in Macau are conducted by Public Security Police Force of Macau at land entries (4) with China and at Macau International Airport. Customs duties are performed by Macau Customs agency. Both border guards and customs officers are responsibilities of the Secretariat for Security.
The Border Security Agency is part of the Malaysian government agency that was recently established in 2015 to guard the country’s entry and exit points from illegal activities such as smuggling, illegal migration and human trafficking. Before the establishment of the agency, Malaysian borders was guarded by the Malaysian Armed Forces and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
The Royal Marechaussee is the fourth organization within the Dutch Royal Army, besides Army, Navy and Air Force. Besides patrolling the border it also has the function of Military Police and protects the Royal Family.
Border Security Command and Coastal Security Bureau are collectively responsible for restricting unauthorized cross-border (land and sea) entries and exits, in the early 1990s the bureaus responsible for border security and coastal security were transferred from the State Security Department to the Ministry of People's Armed Forces. Sometime thereafter, the Border Security Bureau was enlarged to corps level and renamed the Border Security Command. Previously headquartered in Chagang Province, the Border Security Command was relocated to P’yŏngyang in 2002.
The Frontier Corps (FC) (Urdu: فرنٹیئرکور) is a federal paramilitary force recruited mostly by people from the tribal areas and led by officers from the Pakistan Army. The FC is stationed in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Province, are known as FC NWFP and FC Balochistan, respectively. Both distinct provincial groups are run traditionally by an "inspector general" who is a regular Pakistani Army officer of at least major-general rank, although the force itself is part of the Interior Ministry, not the army.
The Pakistan Rangers are a paramilitary force under the control of the Ministry of the Interior of the Pakistani government. In 1995 the Pakistan Rangers divided into two parts; the Pakistan Rangers Punjab headquartered in Lahore and the Pakistan Rangers Sindh headquartered in Karachi. The two divisions have different uniforms and chains of command.
The Border Guard Service of Russia is (since 2003) an agency of the Federal Security Service. The agency considers itself a direct successor of the Soviet Border Troops, and regularly celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the latter (May 28, 1918). This annual event, known as the Border Guards Day, is celebrated every year by the guards in active service as well as former servicemen in Moscow and throughout the country.
As an island, Singapore is surrounded by water and does not share land borders with other countries. Hence, border security is the responsibility of the Police Coast Guard, a specialised division of the Singapore Police Force that monitors and enforces its maritime borders.
In Spain, the paramilitary Guardia Civil is responsible for protecting the borders. There is also a specialized service of the Department of Customs and Special Taxes, the Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera, that has some general border guard duties.
The Border Troops of Tajikistan, also called the Border Service, are part of the Military of Tajikistan and answer to the Interior Ministry. They often train with the Afghan Border Police, and jointly trained with the military of Kyrgyzstan in 2011.
The Border Patrol Police is Thailand's police force responsible for border security and counter-insurgency, and operates as the law-enforcement arm in conjunction with Thahan Phran, the ranger paramilitary arm of the Royal Thai Army.
In the United States, border control is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security. This jurisdictional authority is shared by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (the primary inspection and enforcement component), the U.S. Coast Guard (the primary interdiction components) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (the investigative component).
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is composed of three distinct enforcement arms: the Office of Border Patrol (OBP, otherwise known as the United States Border Patrol), the Office of Field Operations (OFO; commonly called by its former name 'Customs') and the Office of Air and Marine (OAM). OBP is tasked with securing the international border in-between the Ports of Entry (POE) and is a mobile enforcement agency that is structured and employed like any other uniformed police department in the United States. OFO is the federal law enforcement branch tasked with administering the POE's (air, land or sea) and is responsible for determining the admissibility of all persons and goods into the United States. The OAM operates all aircraft and watercraft for CBP and coordinates their interdiction efforts with either OBP, U.S. Coast Guard and/or with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The U.S. Coast Guard is the only branch of military in the United States that is not subject to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. The reason being that both commissioned and petty officers are considered law enforcement officers with limited customs authority pursuant to 19 USC 1401. U.S. Coast Guard has jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has the same authority as both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard, with the added jurisdiction of investigating violations that occur at both the border and the interior of the United States.
Vietnam Border Defence Force (Biên phòng Việt Nam) is a branch of Vietnam People's Army and is under command of Ministry of Defence (Vietnam). It has important roles in protecting Vietnam's sovereignty, maintaining security at land and sea borders. Vietnam Border Defence Force is established on 3 March 1959. It is organised into three levels: National Command, Provincial Command, and Local Post.