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HMRC internal manual

Temporary Storage and Approved Depositories

Approved Depositories (AD): procedures


Approved Depositories are facilities for the clearance of unaccompanied personal effects. The term Approved Depository refers to premises authorised by HM Revenue and Customs for the purpose of storage, examination and clearance of unaccompanied personal effects imported from outside the EU. All Approved Depositories must be approved by Customs Authorities.

Shipments of unaccompanied personal effects which may include private motor vehicles, caravans, boats imported from outside the EU are subject to Customs control. Goods which do not qualify for Transfer of Residence Relief (web) see Public Notice 3 (Bringing your belongings and private motor vehicle to the UK from outside the EC) for information on relief from charges should be assessed for the appropriate duties and taxes, this included any goods that have been purchased outside the EU and have not been in the owners possession and use for at least six months.


Traders who import consignments of personal and household effects are eligible to apply for their premises to be authorised as an approved depository. Applications are dealt with by the National Approved Depository Team whose offices are based at:

13th Floor South
Government Buildings
Ty Glas
CF14 5ZN

Phone: 03000 511 048

Email: National Approved Depositories Team, ISBC MAILBOX (ISBC CITEX Operations)

Letters of approval of depositories must include the legal basis in the format outlined below:

Approved under:

  • Section 20 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA) and Article 140  of  EU Regulation  952/2013 (Wharves)
  • Section 22 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA) and Article 140  of  EU Regulation  952/2013 (examination stations)
  • Section 25 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA) and Article 148 of EU Regulation 952/2013 (transit sheds) (now known as temporary storage).

Presentation of third country consignments

If an agent is handling the clearance, then a Customs Declaration, completed and signed by the owner of the goods, is required together with a list of the goods such as a packing list. The Customs Declaration Forms can be obtained from the Helpline by telephoning 03000 200 3700 between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday. Alternatively forms may be obtained from the HMRC website.

Pre-advice requirement

In addition to all NCTS MRN T1 obligations the following information must also be forwarded to the controlling office at least 24 hours prior to the container’s arrival at the port:

  • container number
  • vessel name
  • country of departure
  • ETA to port
  • list of importers
  • number of items per importer
  • destination address of importers

Removal of consignments of personal and household effects from the port of importation to an approved depository

When an agent requests removal of unaccompanied personal effects inland for examination and clearance, this can only take place at a Customs Approved Depository. Removal to an Approved Depository can only be allowed subject to the following conditions being met:

  1. consignments must consist of only personal and household effects and are not to include any commercial, prohibited or restricted goods. Such goods must be cleared at the port of importation
  2. commercial evidence of loading of the container is to be produced and the officer dealing with the import is to satisfy himself that all consignments in the container are covered by the necessary documents
  3. a list of contents (for example a packing list) and a Customs Declaration is to be produced for each consignment. Removal is not to be allowed for any consignment for which neither a packing list nor Customs Declaration is produced
  4. agents/importers must send a copy of the completed Customs Declaration and packing list to the local customs office for the approved depository

Note: These documents are to be sent to the:

Approved Depository Team
13th Floor South
Government Buildings
Ty Glas
CF14 5ZN

Phone: 03000 511 048

Email: National Approved Depositories Team, ISBC MAILBOX (ISBC CITEX Operations)

  1. the container is to be checked for security and sealed by an approved seal. No other type of trader’s seal is to be accepted unless it has been submitted for examination and authority to use it has been given by HMRC. Whenever containers are removed under official seals, the removal documents are to be endorsed with the reason for the use of official seals and the NADT notified urgently by telephone or fax
  2. the goods must be entered to the Community transit procedure before they can be removed from the port of importation. See the Transit Manual (web) and the UK Supplement to the Transit Manual (web)
  3. all documents relating to the consignments in the groupage load are to be sent to the NADT and need not be delayed until the actual removal of the effects. The person in charge of the depository is responsible for notifying the local office of the arrival of the container
  4. all selections for examination or for clearance without examination are to be made by the officer for the depository
  5. the final destination of consignments are for the UK only.

Notice of arrival of containers at Approved Depositories

The points below confirm the procedure to be followed when a notice of arrival of containers is received at the Approved Depository. The following arrangements are to be agreed between depository operators or their agent and the NADT:

  • the agent for the depository is to give the NADT, at least 24 hours notice (excluding Saturday and Sunday) of the intended arrival of a container at the depository. The NADT is to advise the agent prior to the arrival of the container, whether or not customs will attend to deal with the goods at the time of arrival. The office of destination must be immediately informed of the arrival of the goods so that the Union transit procedure can be ended/discharged within the legal timescales
  • official seals must only be removed by the Customs Officer or by an authorized consignee following receipt of the unloading message
  • where goods move under CT, the seal can only be broken by the agent if he has authorized consignee status. The container can only be unloaded once the appropriate unloading permission message has been received from the office of destination
  • non- receipt of the appropriate documents should be reported to the NADT as appropriate.

Examination and clearance

Anti- smuggling checks may be carried out by Border Force staff at the port but fiscal checks will be the responsibility of the local customs office (CITEX staff and the Flexible Deployment teams).

Consignments of personal effects should be selected for examination on the basis of risk assessment. Risk must be assessed based on information in documents, the country of origin, the presence of high value items. The scale of examination is at the discretion of Customs. Officers should consider targeting consignments for screening by drugs dogs in the light of any drug intelligence.

  1. anti- smuggling checks can be carried out by Border Force staff at the ports before the goods move inland. Once the consignment has moved inland to a depository, the NADT will arrange FDT attendance at the depository to examine the effects whether duty may be charged
  2. Examination at premises remote from the place of import: examination at the approved depository is to be carried out by the FDT for the location, within which the premises are situated. The address of the NADT should be given to the importer who must be instructed to notify the NADT as soon as the effects arrive at their destination
  3. Selection for examination: a record of the officer’s examination is to be recorded on the Customs Declaration and is to include a full account of any assessment of duty payable
  4. Request for exportation: if a request for exportation of a consignment is made the goods must be placed under the CT procedure to move the goods to the port.

Standard clearance procedure

  1. pre-shipment advice must be supplied to the National Approved Depository Team (NADT) in Cardiff as appropriate
  2. the Customs declaration and packing list, together with all relevant documents must be provided to the NADT
  3. the NADT will scrutinise the documentation and request an examination if required
  4. charges will be raised/relief approved by the NADT
  5. confirmation of charges paid will be received by the NADT from the accounting centre (currently based in Cumbernauld)
  6. the NADT will issue clearance documents and inform the Approved Depository operator when the goods can be cleared

The arrival of any goods moving under CT must be immediately notified to the office of destination. This must be done either electronically by the authorised consignee using the NCTS or where he destination trader does not have a software link to the NCTS in accordance with the arrangements agreed with the office of destination. The office of destination must ensure that the correct procedures for ending/discharging the CT procedures are followed in accordance with the Transit Manual and the NCTS User Guidance.

Simplified clearance procedure

A scheme agreed with the British Association of Removers (BAR) makes the depository operator responsible for checking that the importer’s Customs declaration is properly completed and for the calculation of any duty/VAT due on declared goods. Customs control of the trader is exercised on a systems audit basis.

If you have responsibility for an approved depository and your trader’s records and reliability are satisfactory with regular consignments of personal effects being received, you should consider whether your trader would benefit from these simplified procedures.

This procedure offers operators faster clearance of consignments and the opportunity to account for any charges collected by a single monthly payment to HMR Revenue and Customs. The scheme operates in the following way:

  1. the operator is responsible for ensuring that the Customs declaration has been correctly completed by the importer
  2. discrepancies between the packing list and the Customs Declaration should be resolved between the operator and the importer direct any that remain after contact are to be brought to the attention of the NADT
  3. the operator prepares a clearance request for each consignment detailing:
* importer's name and UK address
* any relief claimed
* details on dutiable, prohibited or restricted goods
* any supporting documentation (for example licences)
  1. any charges due are calculated and details are noted on the clearance request.
  2. Customs declaration and packing lists are retained by the operator
  3. the request for clearance is lodged with the NADT when all necessary supporting documentation is available. Clearance is normally 24 hours (excluding weekends, Bank Holidays and other non working days) after lodgement of the request unless prohibited item has been declared or the operator has been notified that the consignment has been selected for examination
  4. the operator obtains any import charges from the importer as a disbursement. Payment obtained from importers may be itemised on a monthly schedule and paid to Customs as a single amount the 10t h day of the following month. If this method of payment is used operators must ensure that import charges are shown on their customers invoices
  5. Customs control of the depository is based on the verification of the operator’s records for example comparison of selected customs declarations with packing lists, invoices with monthly schedules of charges collected. The NADT do monthly reconciliation of the payments received against the goods declared for depositories within their regions.

We have emphasised to the BAR that the implementation of the new procedures at a particular depository will be at the discretion of International Trade officer. The BAR has also been informed that any irregularities or failures by the operator to comply with the conditions of the scheme could result in withdrawal of the simplified procedures.