Customs warehousing

Types of customs warehouses and when to use them

Customs warehouses are premises or systems that are authorised and supervised by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Entering your goods to customs warehousing means you can delay paying customs duty, import VAT, and where appropriate excise duty, until the goods leave the customs warehousing procedure or enter another customs procedure. You can also use customs warehousing when your goods have arrived in the UK and:

  • you want to re-export them
  • you're uncertain about the final destination of your goods upon arrival
  • your import licences or paperwork have been delayed or you are waiting for a duty-relief quota to become available in respect of, for example, agricultural goods
  • you want to discharge another customs procedure, such as Inward Processing (IP) for non-excise goods
  • you wish to store your goods together with goods subject to another customs procedure with economic impact or with goods that are already in free circulation

Eligible goods

To be eligible for customs warehousing, your goods should have been imported from outside the European Union (EU) and be liable to customs duties and/or import VAT, or be moving in duty suspension from another member state - eg the goods have been entered to a duty suspension procedure in another member state or are moving under Community Transit.

You can also, if suitably authorised, use the customs warehouse procedure to store Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) goods that are eligible for an export refund or Community goods under the common or co-storage arrangements.

Goods subject to prohibitions or restrictions must be presented with the appropriate supporting documents at the EU frontier. Meat or meat products must also have been subject to frontier veterinary checks prior to their entry to the customs warehousing procedure.

There are usually no time limits for storing goods, except CAP goods.

Types of customs warehouse

There are two main types of customs warehouse.

A public warehouse (Type A) is operated by a warehousekeeper for the storage of goods placed under the customs warehousing procedure by other traders known as depositors.

A private warehouse can be used to store goods deposited by an individual trader who is authorised as the warehousekeeper. The warehousekeeper need not necessarily own the goods, but they must be the depositor.

There are three types of private warehouse:

  • Type C premises-based warehouse.
  • Type D premises-based warehouse - the trader is authorised to release goods for free circulation under the Local Clearance Procedure (LCP). Any duty due on removal is based on the classification, value and quantity of goods applicable on entry to the customs warehouse.
  • Private Type E customs warehouses where a record-keeping system is authorised (instead of premises) and which traders can also be authorised to release goods for free circulation under LCP if required. However, the authorisation for this is stricter than for Types C and D. Read about the additional conditions for a type E customs warehouse in Notice 3001.

Additional controls exist for warehouses used to store excise goods.

Even though warehousekeepers may not own their premises, they must keep stock records and maintain and operate the warehouse in a way that meets health and safety requirements.

While type B and F warehouses exist within European Community legislation they are not available in the UK.