Customs warehouse : IN or OUT the Customs territory of the EU ?

A customs warehouse is, as understood in the light of the VAT sixth Directive, part of the Customs territory of the European Union. The operations conducted therein are consequently in the scope of VAT…  to which they will be subject  but for the case where the  Member State (where such operations take place)  has made the option for an exemption as possible under the provisions of article 16 §1 of the said 6th Directive.

An EUCJ judgment of November 2012 has indeed confirmed that no provisions of EU law –including the EU Customs code and its Implementation Provisions- indicate that a customs warehouse (whether public or private) would be considered as situated outside the customs territory of the EU.

The judges’ analysis of both EU customs and VAT law reveals some similarity with the European VAT rules applicabe to both intra-Community supplies and exportations which do fall in the scope of VAT but –under certain conditions- enjoy the benefit of an exemption ; the condition being here  the placement of the goods under one of the suspensive customs regimes listed in the fiscal provisions (either customs warehouse or inward processing relief in the present case).