A bonded warehouse, or bond, is a building or other secured area in which dutiable goods may be stored, manipulated, or undergo manufacturing operations without payment of duty. It may be managed by the state or by private enterprise. In the latter case a customs bond must be posted with the government. This system exists in all developed countries of the world.
Upon entry of goods into the warehouse, the importer and warehouse proprietor incur liability under a bond. This liability is generally cancelled when the goods are:
- exported; or deemed exported;
- withdrawn for supplies to a vessel or aircraft in international traffic;
- destroyed under Customs supervision; or
- withdrawn for consumption domestically after payment of duty.
While the goods are in the bonded warehouse, they may, under supervision by the customs authority, be manipulated by cleaning, sorting, repacking, or otherwise changing their condition by processes that do not amount to manufacturing. After manipulation, and within the warehousing period, the goods may be exported without the payment of duty, or they may be withdrawn for consumption upon payment of duty at the rate applicable to the goods in their manipulated condition at the time of withdrawal. In the United States, goods may remain in the bonded warehouse up to five years from the date of importation. Bonded warehouses provide specialized storage services such as deep freeze or bulk liquid storage, commodity processing, and coordination with transportation, and are an integral part of the global supply chain.