Using preference agreements for goods in a customs warehouse


Last updated 29 December 2020

If you import or export using a preference agreement you may be able to reduce the duties on goods.

But you may decide to put your goods into a customs warehouse if the preferential rate of duty has expired or the quota limit has been reached. This can delay the goods going into free circulation so that you can pay a lower rate of duty once the preference rate is available.

You may also decide to put your goods into warehouse if you do not yet hold the proof of origin and you do not want to provide security to cover the duty due on the goods.

If you have the proof of origin

You will need to pass the proof of origin (while it is still valid) to the warehouse keeper who will:

  • endorse it with a stock rotation number
  • retain it until the goods are to be entered to free circulation

The warehouse keeper must keep the proof of origin readily available as HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) may ask to inspect it.

If you do not have the proof of origin

You should check how long your proof of origin is valid for.

If you do not present the proof of origin (or arrange to show that it is available by inserting the certificate serial number, or invoice declaration number in the warehouse records) before it expires, you will not be able to claim the preferential rate of duty.

You must arrange to release the goods within 2 years from the date of issue of the proof of origin to get the preferential rate of duty.

If the proof of origin is not available when you remove the goods from warehouse you may still be able to claim the preferential rate of duty. But both the following must apply:

  • the proof of origin must still be valid at the time of removal
  • you must have covered the duty due on the goods with a security

If you process the goods while in a warehouse

Your products may lose their preferential origin if you process them beyond unloading, reloading or any operation designed to keep them in good condition.

You should enter the goods to free circulation before processing takes place if you want to take advantage of the preferential rate of duty.

But you may still be able to get a pay less or no duty on goods you store, repair, process or temporarily use.