How can goods be handled during warehousing?

Under certain circumstances goods stored in a customs warehouse can be handled, moved out of the customs warehouse temporarily or replaced by equivalent goods. Goods placed under a customs warehousing procedure may undergo forms of handling intended to preserve them, improve their appearance or marketable quality or prepare them for distribution or resale. These forms of actions are called usual forms of handling. With Customs’ permission, the goods can temporarily be moved from the customs warehouse for handling.

The handling must not change the nature or affect the performance of the original goods. Apart from some exceptions, the eight-digit subheading of the goods must remain the same. No separate authorisation has to be applied for regarding usual forms of handling, but an entry has to be made in the warehouse records regarding the handling. If the commodity code of the goods is changed as a result of the handling, the new code has to be entered into the records.

The list of permitted usual forms of handling can be found in Annex 71–03 of the Delegated Regulation.

Usual handling can for example be

  • elementary repairs of damage incurred during transport or storage
  • change of packing
  • affixing price tags or other similar distinguishing signs
  • testing machines or apparatus in order to control the compliance with technical standards, if only simple operations are involved
  • denaturing, even if this results in a different eight-digit CN code.

If the intended handling changes the nature of the goods in such a way that the handled apparatus no longer works independently, the handling cannot be carried out as a usual form of handling. In these cases, the handling must be carried out under the inward processing procedure.

If a usual form of handling cannot be carried out in the warehouse facilities, the goods can temporarily be move out of the customs warehouse facility with a separate authorisation. These forms of handling can e.g. be repairing small damages received during transport, antiparasitic treatment or cutting fabric to length.

Equivalent goods are Union goods, which are stored instead of the goods placed under the customs warehousing procedure. Using equivalent goods requires an authorisation and some product groups are restricted.

Points to consider

Goods placed under the customs warehousing procedure can be temporarily moved from a customs warehousing facility. This requires permission in advance from Customs, unless it is due to exceptional circumstances (e.g. a fire or other force majeure situation). The permission can be granted in the customs warehousing authorisation or, if it concerns a single occasion, it can be applied for from the customs office supervising the operational activity.

During the move, the goods can undergo a usual form of handling.

Example: William’s Warehouse has deposited a car into storage. The car has received superficial scratches during the sea voyage. The car cannot be repaired in William’s Warehouse, but Kenny’s Repairs Ltd offers the service needed. William sends an email to the customs office that supervises the operational activity of the warehouse. In the email he states which repairs will be done and were, as well as the dates for when the car will be moved and returned. After receiving a positive reply from Customs, William moves the car to Kenny’s Repairs and makes an entry in the records of the move and the handling. The paintwork is repaired and the car is returned to the warehouse. William enters into the records that the car has returned to the warehouse.

Equivalent goods are Union goods, which are stored instead of the goods placed under the customs warehousing procedure. Equivalent goods must have the same eight-digit CN code, the same commercial quality and the same technical characteristics as the goods which they are replacing. An authorisation to use equivalent goods can be applied for from the Customs Authorisation Centre when applying for the customs warehousing authorisation. Using equivalent goods is restricted, for example, regarding some agricultural products and organically produced goods.

Equivalent goods can be stored together with other Union goods or undeclared goods. Using equivalent goods must not jeopardise the normal functioning of the procedure or customs supervision. Customs may require special procedures for identification of the goods to enable a clear distinction between them. If it is impossible to identify the goods the whole time or if disproportionate costs are involved, then a separation of the goods in the records may be permitted. The records have to be up-to-date all the time.

When equivalent goods are used to replace undeclared goods, this must be entered into the records. The usage does not require any customs formalities. Under the customs warehousing procedure, equivalent goods become undeclared goods and the goods that they are replacing become Union goods. Value added tax upon import must be paid for undeclared goods, which become Union goods based on the use of equivalent goods.

Example: The operator has an authorisation for customs warehousing, which allows the use of equivalent goods. The operator has two customs warehouses if which one is located in Kotka, the other in Rovaniemi. There are 1,000 car tires in the warehouse in Rovaniemi and they have been place under the customs warehousing procedure. The warehouse in Kotka contains 600 tires with Union status (in free circulation). These tires have been entered into the records as equivalent goods. There are also 400 tires placed under the warehousing procedure.

Car tires, warehouse situation 12.4.20XX Kotka Rovaniemi Total
Under customs warehousing procedure 400 1000 1400

Union goods, entered into the records as equivalent goods

600 0


Total 1000 1000 2000

The operator receives an order on 15 April from Russia for 1,000 tires. The tires are delivered on 16 April from the warehouse in Kotka, since it is geographically closest to the delivery address. The 400 tires with status as undeclared goods under customs warehousing procedure are declared for re-exportation. The 600 tires with Unions status are declared for export as equivalent goods. The tires leave the customs territory of the Union on 17 April.

Meanwhile, as the 600 tires used as equivalent goods are placed under the export procedure, a customs import declaration for the tires stored in Rovaniemi is made with procedure code 4071 + the national procedure code 7EM. In this case the Customs system does not collect import duties, only value added tax on import and other possible costs. The decision on release upon import works as a document for the customs warehouse keeper, who uses it to move the 600 car tires from the records of the customs warehouse in Rovaniemi to the Union goods records.

Car tires, warehouse transactions

 16 – 17.4.20XX
Kotka 15.4.

Kotka 16.4.

Balance Kotka

Rovaniemi 15.4. Rovaniemi 16.4.

Balance Rovaniemi

Under customs warehousing procedure

400 -400 0 1000 -600 400
Union goods, entered into the records as equivalent goods 600 -600 0 0 +600 600
Total 1000 -1000 0 1000   1000


Usual forms of handling:

Removing goods temporarily from a customs warehouse:

Authorisation for the use of equivalent goods:

The use of equivalent goods is not authorised: