Customs warehousing

Handling and storing goods in customs warehouses

Customs warehouses are for the storage of goods, but some minor handlings - known as 'usual forms of handling' - are allowed in order to:

  • ensure goods are preserved
  • improve their presentation or marketable quality
  • prepare them for distribution or resale

Usual forms of handling must be authorised by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) prior to the handling taking place. Generally this will be at the same time as authorisation to operate the customs warehouse is granted. You can remove samples from the customs warehouse with prior authorisation from HMRC.

You can also remove goods from the warehouse on a temporary basis to undertake a usual form of handling provided you return them within three months. You must keep records and obtain HMRC authorisation in both cases. Find information on handling customs warehousing goods.

You can process goods further if you transfer them to Inward Processing (IP). However, there must be an intention to re-export the goods.

Co-storage and common storage

Co-storage allows you to maximise your available warehouse space by permitting the storage of Community goods and non-Community goods.

If you are unable to identify the customs duty of your goods held under customs warehousing or IP at all times you can still store them together in common storage. However, the common storage arrangement only applies to goods that share the same eight-digit commodity code, the same commercial quality and the same technical characteristics. Find out more about when to use customs warehousing, eligible goods and types of customs warehouse.