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Customs wharehousing

Customs wharehousing
The customs warehousing is one of the special customs procedures having an economic impact and which is carried out only based on the authorization of customs authorities.  The authorization is issued only to persons established in the Republic of Serbia and giving all guarantees that they will properly operate the procedure and providing that the customs authorities have the possibility to supervise the authorized procedures.
Customs warehouse means  any  place, approved by and  under the supervision of the customs authorities,  where goods  may be stored  under the conditions laid down, including foreign goods after the entry into the customs territory and domestic goods for exports. 
Customs warehouses, according to the Customs law, may be divided in public and private warehouses. A public warehouse is available for use by any person for the warehousing of goods. A private warehouse is reserved for the warehousing of goods belonging to the warehouse keeper.
The warehouse keeper is a person authorized to operate the customs warehouse. The customs warehouse may also be operated by the customs authorities.
The depositor shall be the person bound by the declaration placing the goods under the customs warehousing procedure, or to whom the rights and obligations of such a person have been transferred.
Operation of the customs warehouse shall be subject to the issue of an authorization by the customs authorities, unless the said authorities operate the customs warehouse themselves.
Opening of a customs warehouse
A customs warehouse, either public or private, shall be subject to the issue of an authorization by the customs authorities. An application for the authorization shall be submitted to the competent customs office and it shall include the kind of the warehouse (public or private), economic needs for the opening of a warehouse and for the storage of goods. The application shall be submitted either to the customs office responsible for the area where the premises of the warehouse should be or, in the case of a simplified declaration of goods, to the customs office responsible for the place where the main accounting of the applicant is located. 
The application shall be followed by:
  • evidence of  registration of the business entity   in the appropriate register and a photo-copy of the document on the establishment of the company (the decision or the contract), or the decision of the entrepreneur or  a certified photo-copy of the statute of the company, which the business entity usually submits for the registration, an evidence of the legal basis for the use of premises or areas intended for a customs warehouse,
  • sketch and a technical description of the area,
  • evidence of the taxpayer identification number, and the number of the account with a commercial bank,
  • document issued by the competent authority certifying that  special conditions ae fulfilled, if such special conditions have been prescribed for the warehousing procedure, 
  • statement that the premises and equipment for storage and keeping of non-customs cleared goods, and for the customs surveillance and customs clearance of goods in the customs warehouse, are provided,
  • statement that the warehousing of goods is not a prevailing activity of the applicant,
  • contracts of the applicant with economic companies on warehousing of goods.
For opening of a private warehouse, the applicant shall also submit:
  • So called business plan and specification of customs declaration in the previous period,
  • banking guarantee for the storage of goods, 
  • statement of the applicant that he is the keeper or  the  depositor and, at the same time, the owner of goods to be stored,
  • statement relating the kind of goods to be placed in a warehouse.
An application shall be followed by the evidence that the administrative tax of the Republic of Serbia (which now amounts 430, 00 dinars) has been paid.
After an application has been lodged, the customs office shall make the decision on nomination of a commission composed of customs officers who shall inspect the area or the premises intended for a warehouse, and make the record thereby.
Thereafter, the application shall be evaluated and, in a period no longer than 60 days after an application was submitted (Article278 of the Regulation), the decision shall be taken on whether the application was approved or rejected. In the case of a negative decision taken by the customs office, as a first instance authority within the Customs Administration, the applicant has the right to appeal at the Commission for appeals of the Customs Administration.  
An approval becomes valid as from the date it was given, or as from the date indicated in the approval itself. Exceptionally, where private customs warehouses are in question, the customs authority may orally announce its approval for the operation of the procedure, even before issuing the written approval.
In an approval for the operation of a customs warehouse, the time limit of its validity shall not be indicated.
A customs warehouse must carry on an apparent board with the inscriptions: „Customs warehouse“, the name of the warehousekeeper, the type of the warehouse and the working hours.
Obligations of customs warehousekeeper and of depositors and stock records keeping 
An approval for opening of a customs warehouse imposes obligations to the warehouse keeper. A warehouse keeper is mainly responsible that the goods stored in the customs warehouse remain under the customs surveillance. He is responsible for the fulfillment of obligations originating from a customs warehousing procedure, as well as for the fulfillment of special conditions contained in the approval for operation of a warehouse. In an approval for operation of a public warehouse,   it may be stated that the depositor is exclusively responsible for the fulfillment of obligations mentioned above. The depositor shall always fulfill obligations arising from placing goods under the customs warehousing procedure.
The obligation of a warehousekeeper is to keep stock records, i.e. a warehouse book, or a catalog of cards containing the data from the warehouse book. In order to facilitate the surveillance of goods, it is desirable that the records are kept in the electronic form. Goods placed under the customs warehousing procedure must be recorded as soon as brought in a customs warehouse. If a keeper’s responsibility lie exclusively with the depositor, the customs authority may exempt the warehousekeeper from keeping stock records. The same rule applies where goods are placed in a warehouse based on the written declaration under the normal procedure, or based on documents provided for in Article 101 of the Customs law, in the case of the simplified procedure.

The rights and obligations of a warehousekeeper, with the agreement of the customs authorities, may be transferred to another person.
Security to ensure payment of customs debt
Customs authorities shall not allow placing of goods under the customs warehouse procedure before the keeper of a private warehouse provides the guarantee referred to in Article 134 of the Customs law. The exception relates to the keeper of a private warehouse who is the agent or distributor of a foreign producer of goods, namely: durable consumer goods, production and medical equipment, spare parts, medicaments and medical consumption material etc. A public warehousekeeper is not obliged to ensure the guarantee provided for in Article 134 of the Customs law. However, he is obliged to provide the guarantee under Article 115 of the Customs law, in order to ensure the payment of customs debt, which could arise relating to those goods, unless the placing under the warehousing procedure is related to:
  • goods in a free zone,
  • goods in public warehouses, except where a warehousekeeper is the receiver or the owner of goods,
  • domestic goods for exports.
Storage of goods not subject of customs warehousing
Where the justified economic reasons exist, and where there are no obstacles for customs surveillance, the customs authority may allow:
  • that domestic goods are stored in the customs warehouse, except domestic goods for exports which, by being stored in the customs warehouse,  are subject to measures applicable to exports of those goods,
  • foreign goods processing within the procedure of inward processing,
  • foreign goods processing under the customs surveillance applicable to exports.
In those cases, the customs warehousing procedure shall not be carried out and the customs authority may require that the goods be entered in the stock records.
Time limit for warehousing
Goods may remain under the customs warehousing procedure without time limit. However, in exceptional cases, the customs authorities may set up a time limit by which the depositor must assign the goods a new customs approved treatment or use. The customs authorities shall  set up the time limit for any specific case, taking into account the type of goods and  specific conditions of their storage (for example medicaments, perishable goods, food with a  limited time of use and the like). In addition, the competent minister may prescribe time limits for keeping domestic goods for exports under the warehousing procedure. Those goods, by the way of being stored in the customs warehouse, become subject of measures applied to their exports in accordance with special regulations. 
Special provisions relating warehousing procedure
In the operation of warehousing procedure, imported goods may undergo the usual forms of handling intended to preserve them, improve their appearance or quality, or prepare them for distribution or further sale. Domestic goods for exports may also be the subject of handling, but only that explicitly provided relating to those goods. These operations are carried on under the customs supervision and after the approval of the customs authority.
Where special circumstances so require, and after the approval of customs authorities, goods may be temporarily removed from the customs warehouse.
The customs authorities may allow goods placed under the customs warehousing procedure to be transferred from one customs warehouse to another.
Supervision of a customs warehouse
The decision allowing the opening of a customs warehouse provides also for customs point or customs points, which shall supervise the customs warehouse and receive the declarations for goods to be stored, submitted by the warehousekeeper or depositor. The customs point may at any time, in the moment of storage or inspection of goods declared for a customs approved procedure, or after an irregularity in the treatment of goods was found, initiate and carry on the inspection of the functioning of the customs warehouse. The inspection may also be initiated by another department or section. The supervision of the functioning of warehouses is carried on by the Commission of customs officers, whose findings are contained in the record. The result of a control may be the request for initiation of a misdemeanor proceeding and the closure of customs warehouse.
Closure of a customs warehouse
If the warehousekeeper does not fulfill obligations provided for in the Customs law, or in a regulation based on that law, the customs office may temporarily close the customs warehouse and determine the time limit for elimination of those irregularities. If the warehousekeeper, within the deadline left, does not eliminate irregularities that have been found, the customs office shall take the decision on permanent closure of the customs warehouse.
In accordance with the Regulation on approved customs treatment of goods, public customs warehouses are divided into:
  1. warehouse of the type A, where the warehousekeeper is bearing  obligations,
  2. warehouse of the type B, were the depositor is bearing  obligations, 
  3. warehouse of the type F, which is operated by the customs authority.
Private warehouses, where the owner of a warehouse, which is at the same time the depositor, is bearing the obligations, but  must not be, at the same time, the owner of goods, are divided into:
  1. warehouse of the type D, where goods are released for free circulation on the basis of accounting reports and where their decisive characteristics, i.e. the customs value and quantity of goods, are determined  at  the moment  they were placed under customs warehousing procedure,
  2. warehouse of the type E, where it is not necessary that goods are stored in the place approved as a customs warehouse,
  3. warehouse of the type C, where it is impossible to apply the provisions from points 1. and 2. above.
Additional conditions for approval
In an approval for opening of a customs warehouse,  the customs authority determine the area to be used as customs warehouse of the type A, B, C or  D. Customs authority may also approve the use of a warehouse for temporary storage of goods, or its operation as customs warehouse of the type F.
The same area cannot be approved for the operation of more customs warehouses at the same time.
Where stored goods, for reason of their intended use, are hazardous or where they are likely to spoil other goods, or where goods requiring special conditions are involved, it shall be stated in the approval that such goods  may be stored only in specially equipped premises. 
Customs authority may approve that warehouses of the type A, C, D and E, may be used as warehouses for protection of foods for boats and aircrafts in international transportation and on drilling and oil discovering platforms in international waters.
Other procedures in customs warehouse
Approval for customs warehousing procedure may be issued only where usual forms of handling or procedures of inward processing or processing under customs surveillance do not prevail in relation to the warehousing of goods.
Approval shall not be issued if the buildings of customs warehouses or customs areas are used for retail sale of goods. Excepted are premises of customs warehouses for duty free retail sale of goods to: 
  • passengers in international passenger  transport,
  • diplomatic and consular staff, which on the basis of international agreements has the right to exemption from customs duties,
  • staff of international organizations,
  • foreign armed forces or their members, in accordance with special agreements.
Stock records
Customs warehousekeeper is responsible for keeping business records of goods stocked in the warehouses of the type A, C, D and E.
In customs warehouses of the type F the records are kept in accordance with customs regulations.
In customs warehouses of the type B, instead of business records, the customs authority retains and saves customs declarations on goods placed under the procedure.
The real condition of goods placed under the customs warehousing procedure must be inferred from data contained in the accounting records at all times. A warehousekeeper is obliged to inform the customs supervisory authority on the real inventory of goods, within the time limit determined by the customs authority. The customs value of goods subject of usual treatment is put in the records before the usual treatment. Relevant data on a temporary transfer or joint warehousing of goods shall also be recorded in the accounting records.
Where goods are placed in the warehousing procedure in a warehouse of the type E, they shall be recorded after arriving in the warehouse.  Where a customs warehouse is also used for temporary storage, the inscription in the record of goods is made at the same time with the acceptance of declaration for temporary storage. Recording information on the completion of customs procedure shall be made, at the latest, when the goods leave a customs warehouse. 

Special provisions on implementation of the procedure
Foreign goods may be the object of normal use, as provided for in the relevant regulation
Goods may be temporarily removed from the customs warehouse for a period not exceeding 3 month. This period may be extended, if special circumstances so require.
Request for approval of normal use or temporary removal of goods from customs warehouse shall be submitted to the supervisory customs authority, in writing, and separately for each case. The application must contain all information necessary for the implementation of the procedure. This approval may also be given within the authorization for the customs warehousing procedure, if the supervisory customs authority had been informed, in the manner determined by him, and before the normal forms of use or temporary removal have been undertaken.
If domestic goods should be stored in customs warehouses (currently it is not allowed) specific methods to identify the goods may be determined, especially for the recognition of their use in relation to goods placed under the customs warehousing procedure.
Customs authority may approve joint storage of domestic and foreign goods, even where it is not possible to identify the customs status of each kind of goods. Domestic agricultural products are excluded from such approval.
Jointly stored goods must have the same tariff code, the same commercial features and the same technical characteristics.
Where the procedure of inward processing or the procedure for processing under the customs surveillance is carried out in the premises of a customs warehouse or other storage areas, on  goods placed under the procedure shall apply the provisions of Article 305 of the Regulation on customs approved treatment of goods, i.e. the same provisions as apply to domestic goods in the warehousing procedure. New regulations also provide for simplified procedure for release of goods for free circulation, exports or re-exports, provided that the goods have been declared for the warehousing procedure, except:  
  • for goods placed under the procedure in a warehouse of the type F, where it is not possible to approve any of the simplifications envisaged,
  • for goods placed in a warehouse of the type B,  where the use of uncompleted declarations and the simplified declaration procedure may be approved.
In an approval for the customs warehouse of the type D, it shall be automatically approved to declare goods for release for free circulation based on accounting documents.
Documents to be annexed to an application for approval for the operation of a  customs warehouse
  1. Evidence of registration in the registry of business entities ( the decision of the Agency for Economic Registers),
  2. Certificate on  the taxpayer identification number (TIN),
  3. Certificate on the account number with a commercial bank,
  4. Evidence on the legal basis for the use of premises or spaces intended for the customs warehouse (  title deed, lease agreement etc.),
  5. Sketches and technical description of premises or spaces (area, dimensions, doors, windows, layout etc.) intended for  a customs warehouse,
  6. Approval for  use of premises, which is not required for open spaces. If the approval for use of the building does not exist, the evidence that the application for legalization of the premises has been submitted to the competent authority shall be enclosed.
  7. Certificate of the competent administrative authority that special conditions prescribed for warehousing of specific goods were met (only where it is known in advance which goods requiring special conditions and the agreement of the phytosanitary  or veterinary inspector, for example,  will be stored), 
  8. Statement certifying that technical conditions were met, i.e. that the customs warehouse is technically prepared for customs surveillance and customs control and that there is necessary equipment (for example the ramp for the control, reflectors, scale etc.),
  9. Statement certifying that that the premises and equipment necessary for the activity of authorized customs officer were provided,
  10. Statement certifying on the existence of premises and equipment necessary for the activities of a customs officer,
  11. Statement certifying that the applicant is able to fulfill special conditions for warehouse keeping (for example to provide special equipment), if it is necessary for the customs control and surveillance, taking into account the kind and features of goods to be placed in the warehouse,
  12. Proposed form and content of records (as they are kept and, if it is possible, to print an extract from the records in order to enable their checking),
  13. Banking guarantee which cannot be lower than 700.000,00 dinars, and depending on  the amount of duties on goods to be stored.
  14. Certificate that the administrative tax of the Republic of Serbia, amounting 430, 00 dinars, has been paid to the account of the budget of the Republic of Serbia, No. 840-742221843-57,  reference number 97, according to the point No 9 of the Law on Republic’s Administrative Taxes (“Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia” No 55/2021).
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