Responsibilities, obligations and rights of warehouse keepers

Your responsibilities are based on whether you have an authorisation for temporary storage or for customs warehousing. A holder of an authorisation for temporary storage is responsible for everything regarding the warehousing. The responsibilities in customs warehousing are divided between the holder of the authorisation and the holder of the procedure.

  • The holder of the authorisation is responsible for making sure that the goods remain in the warehouse (under customs supervision) and are not released for free circulation without Customs’ consent.
  • As a holder of the authorisation, you must clarify to Customs any possible vagueness appearing in the records. When goods are released from the warehouse, the holder of the authorisation is also responsible for inspecting that the information in the release document corresponds to the information in the consignment. In practice, this means for instance that the information regarding the previous procedure has been declared correctly in the release document. This can be for example, the code, MRN and goods item number.
  • As a holder of the customs warehousing authorisation, it is your responsibility to submit a discharge notification concerning customs warehousing to Customs.
  • The obligation to keep records is defined according to which type of warehouse is in question. If you are responsible for keeping records, you make sure that the entries in the records have been done correctly, the records are appropriate and up-to-date and the receipts have been archived correctly.
  • You are responsible for delivering the required reports to Customs.
  • You are responsible for making sure that the customs legislation, such as the time limits required by law, are observed in your warehouse.
  • As a holder of a comprehensive guarantee authorisation, it is your responsibility to follow up on the reference amount in the comprehensive guarantee authorisation and the warehousing authorisation. The reference amount is the amount of taxes on the goods in the warehouse. This includes customs duties and other possible fees, such as VAT and excise duty. Use real time follow-up to make sure the reference amount is not exceeded. If the reference amount in the authorisation is smaller than the amount of taxes on the goods in the warehouse at any given time, please inform the Customs Authorisation Centre.
  • If the goods disappear during warehousing or the audit trail is broken in the warehouse records, you are responsible for paying the customs duties, VAT and other possible taxes and costs for the goods.
  • If you store your own or your customer’s goods and always complete all the customs formalities, such as submitting the customs declarations and doing all the paperwork concerning the goods in your name on behalf of the customer, then you are also responsible for matters related to the role as holder of the procedure.
  • In customs warehousing, the holder of the procedure is responsible for making sure that the customs declaration, with which the goods are place under the customs warehousing procedure, contains all information and that it is correct.
  • As a holder of the authorisation for a private customs warehouse, you are also the holder of the procedure.

Points to consider

If you like, you can keep the records and archive the documents electronically. During the authorisation process, Customs checks that records are kept in a form approved by the customs authorities. You can receive goods into the temporary storage facility by submitting the unloading report electronically to Customs, if you have the required authorisations. The customs warehousing declarations can be lodged in Customs’ online service or with a message.

Goods in a temporary storage facility can only be handled to maintain their condition. Customs can inspect goods in a temporary storage facility and take samples for consumer protection controls. The holder of the goods can with Customs permission inspect the goods and take samples.

Goods stored in a customs warehouse can be handled to ensure that they are preserved, to improve their appearance or marketable quality or to prepare them for distribution or resale. These so called normal ways of handling goods have been defined by law. In practice, this can for example mean re-packaging clothes into sales collections.

If the handling cannot take place in the warehouse facility, the goods can, with Customs permission, be moved out of the warehouse for handling. If the nature or characteristics of the goods change, they have to be placed under the inward processing procedure.

Customs has different ways of following undeclared goods and the operations of companies which use warehouses. When you apply for a warehousing authorisation Customs checks that the warehousing facility and the records satisfy the requirements laid down in the legislation. It is the duty of Customs to monitor the continuous compliance with the customs regulations.

When your warehouse is in use, Customs inspects e.g. the warehouse records. The inspection can also be aimed at the stored goods. These inspections are carried out smoothly when you actively participate during the inspection, and during a possible investigation into the matter at a later stage.

If the goods in your warehouse is spoiled or for some reason becomes unsellable during storage, the goods can be destroyed under customs supervision. Contact Customs when you notice that such goods are stored in the warehouse. If you personally destroy goods from the warehouse without informing Customs, you must clear the goods through customs at full value.

If you notice that goods have disappeared from your warehouse, inform Customs immediately of this to avoid unpleasant post-clearance recoveries. When you personally inform Customs that goods have disappeared, you can clear the good yourself and penalty fees or duty increases are generally not imposed when clearing the goods.

If you are a temporary storage keeper, you are responsible for informing Customs about undeclared goods that have been in storage for more than 90 days.

Customs inspects goods for several reasons. Warehouse keepers are obligated to assist Customs in controls of goods. When Customs inspects goods transported in packages, the warehouse keeper must open and close the package in which the goods are to be transported. After inspecting the goods, customs officers will place an adhesive tape with the text “Opened by Customs” on the opened package. When necessary, warehouse keepers are also responsible for moving goods in the area of the warehouse, that is, between the place where the goods are shelved/stored and the place of inspection. For example, customs officers can inspect goods and take samples of them. Customs can also inspect the means of transport used for carrying the goods. Some customs controls are subject to a charge.

Applicable legislation: Union Customs Code 
Article 140: Unloading and examination of goods 
Article 188: Verification of a customs declaration
Article 189: Examination and sampling of goods
Article 190: Partial examination and sampling of goods

Fees charged for services


If your storage facility contains goods that are never retrieved by your customer, you are still responsible for storing the undeclared goods. If you need to get rid of the goods, the legislation provides the following alternatives:

  • placing the goods under a customs procedure
  • destruction
  • abandonment to the State and
  • selling at a customs auction.

As storage keeper you are responsible for all costs that incur in these situations.