The importance of customs chemistry appeared just after the formation of the independent Czechoslovakia in connection with assessment and payment of customs duties. The forerunner of the Customs Technical Laboratory - the Customs Technical and Testing Laboratory of the Financial Guard was established on 12th July 1923 on the basis of a Governmental Decree. The main task of this former laboratory was to carry out analyses, verification, examination, and certification of samples of raw materials, products and all kinds of goods on the basis of orders of the Ministry of Finance or on the request of other authorities or individuals. The testing laboratory performed analyses and produced the expertise and reports entirely independently. The prices for the analysis and expertise were set in a special price list.
The development of the customs laboratories was interrupted in 1956 - 1990. Since 1st January 1990 full duties had been applied and, therefore, qualified information about customs tariff classification was required. As a result of this in May 1990 it was decided that the Customs Technical Laboratories (CTL) would be established. The first lab started its activity in the same year in Prague. During the development of this laboratory not only its historical experience but also the long-term experience of the foreign customs administration was taken into account.
After the new Customs Code came into force in the beginning of 1993 the need for the customs laboratories was emphasized. The General Directorate of Customs decided on the implementation of a system consisted of the customs technical laboratories with the Central Customs Technical Laboratory in Prague acting as methodological, professional, and management centre and the Regional Customs Laboratories in selected regions.
In the end of 1994, and during the first half of 1995, the regional laboratories were gradually established. Those analyses that are not possible to be accomplished in the regional laboratories are performed in the CTL in Prague. All analyses for the possible appealing procedures are also carried out in Prague. By the end of 1996 the system of laboratories within the customs administration was completed. An independent department - the Directorate of the Customs Technical Laboratories was established as a part of the General Directorate of Customs. The Directorate of the Customs Technical Laboratories is responsible for methodological, technical and organizational management of all customs laboratories. In the year 2009 this scheme was rejected and one single Customs technical laboratory (integrated within General Directorate of Customs) with some laboratory units in regions was created.
As a natural result of the development of the customs laboratories and of the widening jurisdiction powers of the customs administrations the need of accreditation arisen. In October 1997 after more than one year of the “pre-accreditation“ steps CTL fulfilled all the necessary requirements and achieved the Certificate of Accreditation for specific methods. Since then the number of methods expanded step by step depending on the requirements of the customs administration. According to the relevant norms and rules the supervising audit was carried out in autumn of 1998, a year after the issue of the Certificate of Accreditation. In its final report of the Czech Accreditation Institute stated that CTL successfully met all accreditation criteria.
Consequently CTL started with the process of certification in accordance with the national and international norms and laws. In 1998 the internal audits were organised in all laboratories and this was repeated during the spring of 1999. The process of certification includes not only the specific methods of analyses but also the whole system of quality in CTL. The results of the external audit by a certification body RWTÜV (now TÜV NORD Czech, Ltd.) decided to grant the ISO 9001 Certificate.
At present the Customs Technical Laboratory (CTL) has its own status and position within the organizational structure of the Czech Customs Administration. Their activities became a necessary condition in customs business by establishing nature, tariff classification, origin, and value of goods in order to implement for customs duties and revenue collection, commercial policy, antidumping, and agricultural goods control. Nowadays the Customs Technical Laboratories have found their place also in the non-fiscal areas such as the protection of health and security, economy, and environment on the all European scale in the protection of citizens, their health and work (e.g. inspection of goods suspected to the infringement of Intellectual Property Rights). Customs Technical Laboratories are also involved in the fight against terrorism (e.g. in examination of dual used goods and technologies and high value commodities such as e.g. diamonds in the framework of so called Kimberly process).
A majority of examined samples are definitely goods liable to excise tax (e.g. petroleum products, alcohol, tobacco, fiscal tapes on tobacco and alcoholic products), the commodities with the different customs duty and value added tax (e.g. footwear, pharmaceuticals, chemical products etc.) and also agricultural products and foodstuffs e.g. activity of CTL in examination of good for purpose of Common Agriculture Policy of EU.
The important role and good functioning of CTL became known also within other bodies of other state authorities. In addition, CTL´s have gained contacts and co-operate with scientific institutes, universities and R&D departments in the industry, and on the international level in the framework of the activities of the Group of European Customs Laboratories.