Bonded warehousing in the UK - What you need to know

Protecting your cash flow is essential in business. Or, as our finance director says, “Cash is the lungs of a business!”. But did you know there is a way to suspend payment of duty and VAT during your import clearance, allowing you to hold onto your cash and pay HMRC at the last minute? Find out more about bonded warehousing in this article.

What is a bonded warehouse?

A bonded warehouse is a location that has been authorised by customs to hold goods that have not yet entered free circulation (meaning that the import duty and VAT has not yet been paid). As with normal warehouses, bonded premises can either be publicly or privately operated.

Goods that are entered into the warehouse under bond must be contained within the authorised area. This can be the entire shed, or it can be a specified set of stows, or racks within the location.

To store a commodity, the warehouse must have permission from their bond supervisor for it. This is determined by the commodity code used on the import clearance. If you are considering the use of a customs warehouse, then you must check they are able to hold your commodity beforehand.

Note that there are two main types of bonded warehouse, excise and non-excise (also known as wet and dry customs warehouses). Excise (wet) warehouses may hold excise goods such as alcohol and tobacco under bond, whereas a non-excise (dry) warehouse may not.

How does the customs warehouse procedure work?


When entering your goods into bond, it is important that you remain compliant with both general regulations and any warehouse-specific regulations.

To begin the process of bringing goods into a customs warehouse, you must send all documentation (including the bonded customs clearance) to the premises ahead of arrival. The warehouse then enter the goods into their system, awaiting their arrival.

Once the bonded declaration has been cleared and the warehouse are notified of the goods, you may collect them from the port. The goods must go straight to the bonded warehouse. If you use a container storage depot to hold containers beforehand, they must also be authorised for bond and an entry to move the goods in and out of the premises must be completed.

Upon arrival and unloading, the warehouse will advise of any discrepancies with the goods so that the correct inventory is shown against the bond.

When you need to remove the goods from the warehouse, a warrant clearance must be completed to pay the taxes owed before the warehouse can pick the goods. If the load is going to another bonded location or are being exported, the goods can still move under bond using a different customs procedure.

Need help with bonded warehousing clearances?

Universal Customs Clearance can complete your import clearance in any major UK port, or a warrant clearance for anywhere in the UK. If you’re interested in using bonded warehousing in the UK, contact us for help with your clearances clearances today..

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