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HMRC internal manual

Temporary Storage and Approved Depositories

HM Revenue & Customs
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Arrival of goods in the UK: goods subject to checks at the place of importation: eligible goods

All goods are eligible for temporary storage. However, certain goods are subject to specific checks before they may be removed from the place of importation to an External Temporary Storage Facility (ETSF). Certain physical and or documentary checks must be undertaken at the place of importation. Set out below are those categories of goods which normally need to be controlled at the port of importation, unless permission has been granted by the relevant control agency for movement elsewhere.

You must draw the attention of the operator of any goods subject to the Imported Food Regulations (IFRs) for example live animals and products of animal origin must be notified to the appropriate control agency before clearance is allowed by Customs authorities.

1 Goods subject to veterinary checks at a Border Inspection Post (BIP)

  • live animal
  • fresh red meat and meat products
  • poultry meat and poultry meat products
  • rabbit meat, game meat (wild/farmed) and products thereof
  • fish products, fresh and frozen fish and dry and or salted fishery products
  • whole egg, egg products, hatching eggs
  • lard and rendered fats
  • animal casings
  • milk and milk products whether or not for human consumption
  • processed animal protein
  • honey
  • semen
  • embryos/ova
  • manure
  • gelatine
  • frogs legs and snail
  • bone and bone products
  • hides and skins
  • bristles, wool, hair and feathers
  • horns, horn products, hooves and hoof products
  • apiculture products
  • hunting trophies
  • processed pet food
  • raw material for the manufacture of pet food
  • raw material, blood, blood products, glands and organs for pharmaceutical use
  • blood products for technical use
  • pathogens
  • hay and straw

2 Goods subject to plant health, horticultural or timber controls

Only if the local Plant Health and Seeds Inspector, or Forestry Commission Inspector as appropriate, considers that their controls can be carried out outside the port of importation, may these goods be removed to an External Temporary Storage Facility (ETSF). A recent change in policy now enables traders to apply to have plant health inspections by the Plant Health Seed Inspectorate, the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate and the Forestry Commission, carried out inland at TS premises.

3 Foodstuffs other than those covered in 1 and 2 above

These goods may be allowed to be removed to an ETSF if both the Port Health Authority and the Environmental Health Officer allow their controls to be carried out outside of the port of importation.

4 Goods subject to environmental controls

Specified consignments of goods subject to various environmental controls (such as certain new chemicals or hazardous waste) in respect of which Customs have been requested by a regulatory body to arrange their detention at the point of entry into the Union. Ozone depleting substances (ODS) including CFCs or halogens, which require import licences issued by the European Commission.

5 Goods subject to endangered species control

Certain species of animals or plants (including their parts or derivatives such as furs, ivory, reptile skin goods, timber and stuffed specimens) are subject to the control on endangered species for which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has responsibility Foreign export permits must be presented at the first point of entry into the Union.

Storage of food

Customs Authorities must ensure the applicant/operator is aware of the need to inform the appropriate local authority when foods products are to be or being stored in their premises.

Food may only be held in Temporary Storage premises that have been registered as food business premises, under Regulation (EC) 852/2004 Article 6 Additional requirements apply for food products under the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Hygiene (England) regulations 2006. Information about these requirements can be obtained from the local authority Environmental Health Officer.

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in customs authorities applying Customs Civil Penalty (CCP) and may jeopardise the Temporary Storage approval or lead to additional terms and conditions being attached to it.

Storage of firearms

Temporary Storage operators, who want to store firearms that fall within Section 1 and 2 of the Firearms Act 1968, must have their premises separately approved.

Under section 9 of the FA, a person carrying on a business of an auctioneer, carrier or warehouseman, or an employee of such a person, may, without holding a Firearm Certificate, have in their possession a firearm or ammunition in the ordinary course of that business.

This exemption does not apply to weapons covered by section 5 of the FA. Thus ETSF operators can only store imported firearms that fall within sections 1 and 2 of the FA (that is standard length single and double barrel shot guns, pump and semi automatic shot guns provided that they do not have a barrel less than 24 inches or (excluding any detachable, folding, retractable or other movable butt stock) are less than 40 inches in overall length, single shot bolt and lever action rifles, self loading rifles chambered for .22 rim fire cartridges, guns designed to be loaded from the muzzle end of the barrel or chamber with a loose charge and a separate ball, and firearms designed as signalling apparatus).

Before granting approval, control officers should review the approval of ETSF operators to ensure that the storage facilities and record keeping are of an acceptably high standard. As a guide to granting approval the ETSF operators system of security and control should include:

  • an alarmed store room, lock up or cage
  • guns/security cabinets securely fitted to solid walls for example within store room, lock or cage
  • firearms and ammunition must be stored separately
  • key holders be limited to named and trusted personnel
  • two key holders must be present whenever firearms are deposited or removed from storage
  • a firearms register be maintained into which must be entered the:

    • date of receipt of the firearm(s) into the ETSF and appropriate cross reference to customs declaration
    • maker’s name and type of firearm(s) for example Mossberg Model 500 pump action 12 bore shot gun
    • serial number of the firearm(s)
    • amount and description of any ammunition
    • date and details of disposal
  • the register, along with the firearms, must be produced to Customs of the police, whenever requested

To store weapons falling within the Firearms Act 1968 section 5 (for example hand guns, machine guns and military type weapons) Temporary Storage operators must have Home Office authority. Applicants are to be advised to contact the Home Office for information at:

The Home Office
Firearms Section
5th Floor South East
Fry Building
2 Marsham Street

Phone: 0207 035 1778/1779 for Home Office authorisations.

Any operator storing firearms without the relevant authority commits an offence under Section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968.

You must ensure that any operator storing firearms has received the appropriate authorisations to do so.