Warehouses are licensed under section 79 of the Customs Act 1901.
Activities permitted in warehouses are limited to protect both the security of the goods and the revenue payable to the Commonwealth. Approved activities may include storage, blending, unpacking, repacking and packaging of certain types of goods. Any activities that involve ‘value adding’ are not permitted in a warehouse.
The ABF issues warehouse licences to a specified licence holder, who may be an individual, company or partnership. Licences cannot be granted to a trust but may be granted to a trustee.
Each licence is issued for a specific place. Licensees with more than one warehouse require a licence for each of their premises. Licensees who want to move premises or make substantial changes to the existing licensed site must be granted approval to vary their licence before any changes are made.
In some international publications, warehouses are referred to as bonds or bonded warehouses. This is a legacy from the use of bonds as security for licensed premises and does not have a meaning under Australia’s current legislative regime. However, the term underbond movement is still used administratively to refer to the movement of goods still subject to customs control.
Types of warehouse
Warehouse licences are issued for particular purposes. There are a number of categories of a warehouse licence, including:
- Private warehouse - The licence holder is the owner of the warehoused goods
- General warehouse - The licence holder is storing goods on behalf of other owner/s
- Providores and flight catering bonds - The licence holder stores goods which are then supplied to international aircraft or vessels as aircraft or ships stores
- Duty free store - The licence holder is permitted to sell goods in a retail-type environment exempt from certain taxes or duties on the condition that the goods will be sold to relevant travellers
- Excise equivalent goods warehouse - With the exception of catering bonds, providores and duty free shops, private and general warehouses that are to store excise equivalent goods (EEG), either solely or in addition to other goods, must be licensed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Excise equivalent goods are imported alcohol, tobacco and fuel that, if they had been produced or manufactured in Australia, would have been subject to excise duty. The ATO administers excise licences and permission to sell excisable goods under the Parts IV and VI of the Excise Act 1901.
Companies applying for a licence to operate a catering bond, providore, or a duty free shop may also need to obtain the appropriate additional licence/s from the ATO. More information on Excise and excise equivalent goods is available.