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HMRC internal manual

Temporary Storage and Approved Depositories

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Assignment of goods to a customs procedure or re-export

Goods are to be assigned to a customs procedure or re-export within 90 days from the time goods have been declared to temporary storage.

UCC Regulation 952/2013 Article 149

Non Union goods in temporary storage shall be placed under a customs procedure or re-export within 90 days.

Expiry of 90 day time limit

There is a time limit of 90 days when goods must be entered to a customs procedure or re-exported. A reminder/enquiry letter should be issued by the NCH just before the 90 days limit is up. You should allow a reasonable amount of time from the date of issue of the letter for the importer or their representative to reply. You should consider sending the letter to the importer by recorded delivery.

If a reply has not been returned with the necessary information by the time you have set for a reply then you should consider how to regularise the situation. You should consider the following options:

  • ask the temporary storage operator if they would like to assign the goods to a customs treatment of use
  • detain/seize the goods and arrange for their disposal by sale or destruction
  • consider Customs Civil Penalty action

Detaining or seizing goods

Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) 1979 section 139(1) provides the authority to detain or seize goods.

For information on the detention of goods see INCHP (Import and National Clearance Hub Procedures) and the Enforcement Handbook.

Abandoned goods

UCC Regulation 952/2013 Article 199 and Implementing Acts Article 242 and 243 confirms that goods may be confiscated and sold or destroyed by Customs authorities.

UCC Regulation 952/2013 197 – 198 Destruction or abandonment shall not entail any expense for the exchequer.

Goods that have been abandoned may be sold as per CEMA section 40 but only if the buyer is able to pay all the charges involved in the purchase of the goods. This would include the cost of transport to the Queens warehouse, valuation assessors, storage, all duties as well as making a declaration to clear the goods.

Customs authorities have the option that if the goods were sold the monies obtained would not cover the costs then the goods can be destroyed.

CEMA section 40 Removal of un-cleared goods to Queens warehouse

  1. where in the case of any imported goods

  2. entry has not been made therefore by the expiration of the relevant period
  3. at the expiration of 30 clear days from the date when they were presented at the proper office of customs and excise they have not been produced for examination and clearance and the failure to produce them is attributable to an act or omission for which the importer is responsible
  4. being goods imported by sea and not being in large quantity, they are at any time after the arrival of the importing ship at the port at which they are to be unloaded the only goods remaining to be unloaded from that ship at that port, the proper office may cause the goods to be deposited in a Queen’s warehouse

  5. where any small package or consignment of goods is imported, the proper officer may at any time after the relevant date cause that package or consignment to be deposited in a Queen’s warehouse to await entry

  6. without prejudice to CEMA section 99 (3), if any goods deposited in a Queen’s warehouse by the proper officer under this section are not cleared by the importer thereof

  7. in the case of goods which are in the opinion of the Commissioners of a perishable
  8. nature, forthwith
  9. in any other case, within three months after they have been so deposited or such
  10. longer time as the Commissioner may in any case allow, the Commissioners may sell them

Destruction of goods

UCC Regulation 952/2013 Article 197 and Implementing Acts 241 confirms that goods may be confiscated and sold or destroyed by Customs authorities.

Destruction or abandonment shall not entail any expense for the exchequer.

When an importer wishes goods to be destroyed they must contact the NCH in writing with an explanation, a request for permission and attendance.  The cost of the destruction shall be borne by the holder of the goods.

Storage charges

You should be aware that storage charges for detained goods are the responsibility of the person in possession of them. Customs Authorities are not responsible for accrued charges for detained goods. For information on seizure see the Enforcement Handbook.

UCC Regulation 952/2013 Article 198

The customs authorities shall take any necessary measures, including confiscation and sale, or destruction, to dispose of goods in the following cases:

(a) where one of the obligations laid down in the customs legislation concerning the introduction of non-Union goods into the customs territory of the Union has not been fulfilled, or the goods have been withheld from customs supervision

(b) where the goods cannot be released for any of the following reasons:

(i) it has not been possible, for reasons attributable to the declarant, to undertake or continue examination of the goods within the period prescribed by the customs authorities

(ii) the documents which must be provided before the goods can be placed under, or released for, the customs procedure requested have not been provided;(iii) payments or a guarantee which should have been made or provided in respect of import or export duty, as the case may be, have not been made or provided within the prescribed period

(iv) the goods are subject to prohibitions or restrictions

(c) where the goods have not been removed within a reasonable period after their release

(d) where after their release, the goods are found not to have fulfilled the conditions for that release or

(e) where goods are abandoned to the State in accordance with Article 199.