Persons interested in establishing a Customs Bonded Warehouse must first decide the type or class of warehouse they are interested in. There are three types of Bonded Warehouses in Dominica:
- Private- one operator who is also the owner of the cargo (One Owner)
- General – one operator with Multiple Cargo Owners
- Showcase – Vehicles (on display for showroom and test drives)
The following procedures pertain to Bonded Warehouses for the deposit, keeping, and security of imported goods chargeable with customs duties. (Part VIII of the Customs Act #20 of 2010)
To apply, the individual must forward a written application to the Comptroller of Customs. In that letter, the individual should identify the type of warehouse, the location, the type of goods, a projected annual value of goods and a description of the premises to be used. The Comptroller shall review the application. This will include in addition a review of the applicant’s background, business activity, and capacity. The Comptroller, through a designated officer(s), shall conduct an evaluation of the premises to ensure that it meets customs standards.
The following are the Customs & Excise Division’s standards that must be met in order to establish a Bonded Warehouse:
- Adequate Security
- Exterior / Interior Lighting
There shall be single access to the building facilitating both entry and exit points. The entrance and exit points shall connect directly to a public road. This will guarantee customs unfettered access to the property. Entrance to Bonded Warehouses shall operate with a double locking system except in cases of Open Warehouses. In the event that the property is fenced, there shall be a similar double locking system.
The owner shall ensure that the conditions in the Bonded Warehouses are suited for both customs and warehouse operator employees warranting that they will be comfortable while administering their duties. Natural and or mechanical airflow should be incorporated into the structure to facilitate a comfortable workspace.
- Adequate Security
Based on the strict nature of the legislation, safety and security have to be a major focus for the Warehouse Operators taking into account that customs duties are owed on the goods deposited in the Bonded Warehouses. The buildings should be secure and equipped with burglar bars. In-house and exterior closed-circuit surveillance will boost security levels.
To mitigate losses in unanticipated circumstances it is mandatory that appropriate cargo and liability insurance be procured.
- Interior/ Exterior Lighting
Interior lighting should be adequate to facilitate proper working conditions within the Bonded Warehouses. This shall ensure that both employees and the customs officers are able to carry out their functions safely and efficiently. Proper lighting can also act as a deterrent against pilferage as well as reduce damages that may occur due to poor lighting.
Exterior lights provide safe and open access for customs. It also acts as a deterrent against intended illegal activities. In the cases of vehicle bonds, the exterior fenced area of the facility should be visible to customs at all times.
Upon meeting Customs standards and prior to commencement of operations the individual shall be required to do the following:
- Establish Security Bond
- Pay License Fee
- Establishing a customs Bond
Prior to the commencement of operations, the Warehouse Operator shall be required to post a security bond with a financial institution of his/her choice (Commercial Bank, Credit Union, or Insurance Company).
The bond shall be of an approximate amount sufficient to cover the duty liability of the goods projected to be stowed within the Bonded Warehouse. Ref: Customs Act 2010 S. 66(5) (b)
- License Fee
An annual license fee of;
- $750.00 EC shall be paid in order to operate a Private Warehouse.
- $1,000.00 EC shall be paid in order to operate a General Warehouse
Upon payment of required fees, the establishing of the appropriate security bond, and meeting all the above-listed requirements, the Comptroller shall grant the relevant License for the operating of the Customs Bonded Warehouse
Information on Warehousing can be found in greater detail in Part XIII of the Customs Act #20 of 2010.