Customs Warehousing / ERTS explained

Site updated regularly - Page last updated February 2013

Customs Warehousing

Most of the information shown below has been taken from the Public Notice: 232 Customs Warehousing.


Definition of a Customs Warehouse

A customs warehouse can either be a defined location (such as premises or place) or an inventory system authorised by us for storing non-Community goods, that are:
- chargeable with import duty and/or VAT or
- otherwise not in free circulation.

Depending on the circumstances, a defined location can be the whole of a building, a small compartment in a building, an open site, a silo or a storage tank.

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The advantages of Customs Warehousing

Customs warehousing is particularly useful if you:

(a) want to delay paying import duty and/or VAT on your stocks of imported goods

(b) want to delay having a customs treatment applied to imported goods

(c) want to re-export non-Community goods (in which case import duty and/or VAT may not be payable at all)

(d) have difficulty at the time of import in meeting particular conditions (such as certain import licensing requirements)

(e) want to discharge another customs procedure (such as IPR) without physically exporting the goods or

(f) want to use a customs warehouse for co-storage of goods subject to another customs procedure (such as free circulation, IPR, PCC).

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Types of Customs Warehouses

EC legislation allows for 6 different types of customs warehouse, classified as A - F.

Types A, C, D and E are available in the UK.


A A public warehouse
C The basic private warehouse
D An alternative private warehouse, appropriate to traders who primarily import goods for free circulation. Any removals to free circulation must be made using the local clearance procedure (see section 9) using the rules of assessment established when the goods are entered to the warehousing procedure. The rules of assessment cover the nature, value and quantity of the goods
E Another form of private warehouse in which a company and its commercial accounting and stock control systems are authorised rather than a defined location. The rules of assessment arrangement applicable in a type D warehouse can also apply if requested


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Goods that can be stored in a customs warehouse

The following goods can be stored in a customs warehouse:

- non-Community goods liable to customs duties and/or VAT (whether or not eligible for preference)

- non-Community goods for which necessary supporting documents (such as DoTI licence) are not available at the time of import

- non-Community goods imported to another suspensive regime (such as IPR or TI) warehoused for export from the Community

- non-Community PCC products

- non-Community goods that are not subject to a full rate of customs duty in the tariff, but are liable to import VAT

- Community produced goods or non-Community goods released to free circulation, eligible for CAP refunds on export. These goods should be warehoused in a specially approved warehouse under the CAP pre-financing arrangements and

- non-Community goods in free circulation that are subject to a claim under the Rejected Imports arrangements.

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Goods that cannot be stored in a customs warehouse

The following goods may not be stored in a customs warehouse:

- meat, meat products and other goods subject to the Veterinary Checks regime unless the required import licence and/or health certificate have been presented and veterinary checks have been completed at the frontier

- most other non-Community goods subject to prohibitions or restrictions applicable at the EC frontier unless necessary supporting documents (such as import licences, permits or other supporting documents) have been presented and

- goods liable to excise duties unless the warehouse is additionally authorised as an excise warehouse or the excise duty is paid before the entry is made for customs warehousing (see Notice 197 Excise goods: holding and movement).


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If you are not looking to set up your own Customs Warehouse, but have goods located at a Customs Warehouse, then read the FAQs below, to see if any of the information there is what you are looking for.

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Some FAQs about Customs Warehousing:

My goods are going into an ERTS / ICD, are these different to normal Bonded Warehouses?

Both ERTS and ICD's are both Customs authorised Temporary Storage facilities, their definitions, taken from Customs Notice 199A 'Temporary Storage', are shown below:

ERTS: Enhanced Remote Transit Shed. An approved place situated outside the appointed area of an approved port/airport where non-Community goods may be held until they are assigned to a customs approved treatment or use.

Inland Clearance Depot: A site situated inland which Customs have approved for the temporary storage, examination and clearance of goods from non-Community countries. An ICD may also be used for the control of freight to be declared for export to non-Community countries.

Once your goods arrive at these warehouses, following their removal from the port of arrival, you usually have 7 days rent-free period to Customs clear your goods. (This timeframe of 7 days may vary, check with you UK agent for the time period allocated where your goods are stored).

As these authorised warehouses are for 'Temporary Storage' only, goods usually have to be removed after a period of approx. 45 days, by which time Customs usually expect goods to be Customs cleared or, if unwanted / unclaimed, then destroyed.

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I've been told that I need a 'Wet Bond' to store my alcohol?

All exciseable goods, e.g. Alcohol products, Tobacco products and oil etc, must be stored at an authorised excise warehouse.

More information on this subject of excise goods, can be found on the Business Link website

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My goods arrived at the seafreight port, near to where I live, but have since been moved to a warehouse, to be unpacked, about a 3 hour drive away, can they do that?

Unfortunately, the answer to this is 'Yes'. The UK agent has complete control of the container, and therefore can have it unpacked at their preferred location.

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Is there anything I should know, or take with me when going to collect my goods from a bonded warehouse?

There are four simple things to remember when going to collect your goods:

1 - Make sure that you have confirmation that they are Customs cleared, that all parties involved have received any or all monies owed, and that the warehouse have been sent instructions to release the goods to you when you arrive.

2 - As with all journeys, make sure you know where you are going and what time the warehouse closes for collections.

3 - Make sure you take some kind of photo ID. This is usually a passport or drivers licence.

4 - If you are not happy with the condition of your goods, make sure you advise the warehouse staff, and write the nature of the problem on the paperwork, when signing for your goods.


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