Taxation and customs union

Temporary storage

Why is a temporary storage system necessary?

Non-Community goods brought into the customs territory of the Community cannot be released from the customs office or other approved place (Article 38 Community Customs Code - CCC) at which they are presented until they are assigned to a customs-approved treatment or use. In the meantime, the goods must remain under customs supervision and are held in 'temporary storage' (Articles 50 - 53 CC), either at the customs office of presentation or at any other place designated, approved and controlled by that office.

How does it work?

The goods are normally placed in an approved temporary storage facility (Article 185 Customs Code Implementing Provisions - CCIP) operated either by the importer or by a storage-keeper; the person holding the goods may be required to provide a guarantee to cover any customs debt that may arise (Article 51 (2) in conjunction with Article 189 CC).

Where customs authorities themselves maintain a warehouse, they can require storage of the goods at this place (Articles 51 (1) and 53 CC). A customs warehouse may also be used for temporary storage (Article 530 (2) CCIP).

If goods are to be removed from the customs office of presentation for storage elsewhere, i.e. at a storage facility designated and controlled by another customs office, then the transit procedure must be used. The goods are then under temporary storage again when the transit procedure has ended.

During the temporary storage the goods may only be handled or treated in order to ensure their preservation, e.g. by cooling (Article 52 CC) but, with the permission of the customs authorities, the importer may examine the goods or take samples (Article 42 CC, Article 182 CCIP).

How long may it last?

The goods must (in accordance with Article 49 CC) be assigned a customs-approved treatment or use within:

  • 45 days from the date on which the summary declaration is lodged in the case of goods carried by sea;
  • 20 days from the date on which the summary declaration is lodged in the case of goods carried otherwise than by sea.

What are the consequences if storage's time-limits are exceeded?

If the goods have not been assigned a customs-approved treatment or use within the prescribed period, the customs authorities may, at the expense of the importer or the holder of the goods

  • remove the goods to a place under their supervision and /or
  • sell the goods (Article 53 CC), or
  • destroy them (Article 56 CC).