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What are bonded warehouses and how can they influence your import?

Bonded warehouses, also known as bonded warehouses, are places where goods that are travelling are temporarily stored for the purpose of control by customs agents.

Due to the stage of import (or export) at which they are – they have not yet reached their destination – goods that are housed in a bonded warehouse do so without paying duties until they are assigned to their final destination.

There are different types of bonded warehouses and, depending on the area where they are located, they can be closed warehouses (such as the private warehouses of any logistics company) or reserved areas within the customs offices themselves; even spaces close to the offices of the tax agencies that have to control the goods.

Bonded warehouses VS. Temporary warehouses

The characteristics of bonded warehouses lead some companies to use this space as part of their logistics strategy. However, it is important to note that a bonded warehouse is not the same as a temporary warehouse.

Temporary storage warehouses have the objective of storing goods until they reach a given destination. In that sense, they fulfil the same function as bonded warehouses and, moreover, in neither case is the handling of the goods allowed.

Despite the similarities, they can only be used for a defined total time. In the case of goods arriving by sea, there is a limit of 45 days in the temporary storage facility, a period which is reduced to 20 days for other types of transport (although this can be extended by a 90-day extension). In the case of customs warehouses, there is no time limit for the goods, although in most cases it will be the typology of the goods that defines the maximum length of stay.

Types of bonded warehouses

The main classification of bonded warehouses is based on the distinction between public and private. However, their typology is rather more complex and each of these types of bonded warehouses has different typologies depending on who is responsible for them.

Bonded warehouses under public responsibility

It could be defined as a storage space that can be used by any user (client or depositor), who is precisely the only one authorised to link or unlink with the warehouse.

  • Type A Bonded Warehouse: The warehouse itself is responsible.
  • Bonded Warehouse Type B: The responsibility lies with the customer (depositor).
  • Bonded Warehouse Type F: The customs authorities are responsible.

Private bonded warehouses

As their name indicates, these warehouses belong to a private company and their use is reserved for the customers of their own activity.

  • Bonded Warehouse Type C: The warehouse is owned by the depositor.
  • Bonded Warehouse Type D: Like Type C, the depositor is the owner of the warehouse, but the simplified domiciliation procedure is used.
  • Bonded Warehouse Type E: It is a space assigned to a client for a specific operation and the relationship between the depositor and the warehouse expires at the moment it ends.

Advantages of bonded warehouses

As mentioned above, many companies choose to store their products in a bonded warehouse as part of their logistics strategy in order to take advantage of some of the most notable advantages of this type of warehousing.

  • Tax deferral: There is no doubt that one of the main benefits of having the products of an import in a bonded warehouse is the possibility of postponing the payment of duties and taxes, as these will not have to be paid until the goods leave this space.
  • Better efficiency in delivery time: For many companies, an alternative to having the goods in a bonded warehouse would be not to have purchased the stock yet. The use of this type of space allows stock to be held in a controlled place and facilitates the delivery time and subsequent logistics of the product, as well as avoiding problems such as stock breakage.
  • Partial stock management: The depositor is not obliged to remove all his stock at the same time; he can do it in batches. This feature gives greater flexibility when managing the goods.
  • Unlimited stay: As mentioned above, in most cases, bonded warehouses offer unlimited stay time, which for many companies is a great peace of mind.
  • Buy at a better price: This type of warehouse allows some companies to make larger purchases or take advantage of certain economic fluctuations (for example, changes in monetary value) and, in both cases, benefit from a better price without having to pay taxes until the moment of leaving the warehouse.

Does my company need to use a bonded warehouse?

In general terms, we can state that bonded warehouses are a good option to save costs in importing, a fact that ends up implying a greater commercial benefit and, as a consequence, improves the competitive advantage of companies over their competitors.

However, each company is different (even when we are talking about companies in the same sector) and, for this reason, has specific needs that are not always solved in the same way.

At S3 Group, as import professionals, we specialise in global sourcing strategies, which not only improve the import process of companies, but also take into account all the steps to be taken to improve the purchasing process and subsequent logistics. In this context, opting for a bonded warehouse can be a good option, although not the only one.