Open customs warehouses (OCW)

Open customs warehouses (OCW) are warehouses within Swiss customs territory in which warehouse operators (importers, carriers, transit agents, freight forwarders, etc.) can store their own or third-party foreign goods. The goods are moved in transit from the border to the warehouse (approved place) without any customs duty being paid.

At the end of storage, the warehouse operator can also carry out the import duty assessment directly on site. He can also initiate a transit procedure and export the goods out of Switzerland again.

In an open customs warehouse the following do not apply:

  • The assessment of import duties such as customs duties, import tax, etc. and
  • Commercial policy measures (especially limits on quantities, as well as monitoring and protection controls)

The Confederation's so-called non-customs legislative instruments do apply, however; for example, a CITES certificate must be submitted for goods governed by laws on the protection of species.

The main benefits of an open customs warehouse are:

  • Temporary storage: transit goods can be stored without paying any import tax

  • Credit function: for goods destined for sale in the customs territory, import duties only need to be paid after the end of stockpiling

  • Not limited to a specific place: the goods do not have to be sent to a specified customs office

  • Existing infrastructures can be used for effective cargo handling and storage

In approved places, open customs warehouses may be in the form of premises or other sites (such as silos, tanks, etc.) monitored by the FCA. Are you interested in operating an open customs warehouse? You need a licence for this, which we can issue on request. You will be obliged to keep records and inventory details. Licences and further information can be obtained from the District Directorate of Customs for your place of business: