You wish to operate as a professional in the spirits and alcoholic beverages business (vintner, wine merchant, etc.).
What is an authorised warehouse-keeper?
Under Article 302 G of the French General Tax Code (CGI), any persons who:
- produce or process spirits, intermediate products, sparkling wine, non-sparkling wine or other fermented beverages, or beer
- receive, hold or ship manufactured tobacco under suspension of excise duty
- hold spirits, intermediate products, sparkling wine, non-sparkling wine or other fermented beverages, or beer that they have received or purchased and which are to be shipped or sold on in volumes which, for the same consignee or same buyer, exceed the levels set by decree
must carry on their business activity as an authorised warehouse-keeper.
The above-mentioned volumes are set by Article 111-0 A of Annex III to the CGI:
- 10 litres of spirit drinks or alcohol
- 20 litres of intermediate products
- 90 litres of wine or other fermented beverages (of which a maximum of 60 litres of sparkling wine)
- 60 litres of sparkling wine
- 110 litres of beer
How do I become an authorised warehouse-keeper?
Filing an authorisation and identification file with the customs and excise department with territorial jurisdiction
You must file an application with the customs and excise department with territorial jurisdiction. The competent department is the one with jurisdiction over the location of the tax warehouse(s) subject to excise duty suspension arrangements where products are produced, held and received and from where products subject to excise duty are shipped under suspension of excise duty, duty-paid or released for consumption.
The declaring party must state his/her/its identity (surname, first names, corporate name and exact address of the company), the type of business activity and provide the following documents:
- site plan and detailed drawings of the premises for which authorisation is being requested;
- authorisation of establishment or operations and/or registration certificate (K bis);
- the company’s articles of association;
- the most recent balance sheets (last three if possible). Newly set-up businesses and companies that only operate under duty-paid arrangements are dispensed from providing their balance sheets and tax clearance certificates;
- the instrument appointing the company’s manager if such appointment is not specified in the articles of association, together with a specimen of his/her signature;
- powers of attorney issued by the managers having authority to sign instruments committing the company
- presentation of a joint and several guarantee. Before starting its business activity, the operator must provide a guarantee under the conditions set out in French guarantee regulation CIA 200 (Official Customs Bulletin (BOD) 6517 of 29 june 2001 [French version]: French guarantee regulation CIA 200). Dispensation from providing a guarantee may nevertheless be granted within the limits and under the conditions stipulated in Articles 111-0 B and 111-0 C of Annex III to the CGI. Companies that only operate under duty-paid arrangements are dispensed from providing a joint and several guarantee.
- a template of the stock records kept
- vat gauging certificate for vintners
Presentation of a joint and several guarantee
A joint and several guarantee must be presented together with the authorisation application (Article 302 G of the CGI). You will be asked to provide the guarantee before starting your business activity. This guarantee will comply with the rules laid down by the guarantee regulation for excise duty.
The various duty credits
This covers payment of duty on spirits and alcoholic beverages that have been produced or held under suspension of duty arrangements in the tax warehouse (cellar, winery, plant, store).
This concerns operators wishing to ship spirits and alcoholic beverages under suspension of duty arrangements and covers:
- payment of excise duty in the event of failure to discharge the accompanying administrative documents (AADs) and the electronic administrative documents (eADs)
- payment of compensation for damages in the event of loss of pre-validated accompanying documents, or of non-compliance with the continuity of the stamps affixed using franking machines that the guaranteed operator is authorised to use
Pursuant to the CGI, tax is assessed monthly, on the tenth day of each month at the latest, on the basis of a declaration of the volumes of products released for consumption during the previous month.
Using the assessment credit, payment of duty on beverages which, during the month, have been shipped under cover of a simplified accompanying document (SAD) or a simplified commercial accompanying document, or packaged using foils showing that tax has been paid (in French called « capsules représentatives de droits »), may be deferred until the month-end.
Customs bond credit
Article 302 D(III) of the CGI provides that tax may be paid within one month of its assessment date, in consideration of the presentation of a guarantee for payment of the tax owed.
The customs bond credit guarantees, in the commensurate amount of the guarantee provided, the deferral of the tax payment by one month.
The guarantee procedure
The guarantee procedure is based on a regulation, identified by customs as CIA 200.
- stipulates the guarantor’s (bank or guarantee organisation) general obligations
- sets the conditions for setting up the guarantee and for its validity
- describes the guarantees that the guarantor may have to provide and specifies their scope
The guarantee regulation assigns an alphanumeric code to each of these guarantees to allow for abbreviated identification in the guarantee instrument (cerfa form 10646).
The guarantee phases are as follows:
- To know which guarantees are required for your business activity, you should contact the customs and excise office to which you report which, according to the information you provide, will advise you of the type of guarantees to set up.
- Next, you can contact your bank or guarantee organisation to draw up the guarantee instrument containing the guarantees specified by the customs and excise office and depending on the nature of your business activity.
- The financial institution will then send the guarantee instrument duly signed by the principal (you) and by the guarantee organisation’s representative, to the regional customs collection office.
- The regional customs collection office will register the instrument and send a copy to the customs office to which you report, a copy to the guarantor and a copy to you.
You are then ready to start your business activity.
The following may be dispensed from providing guarantees under conditions and within limits set by decree:
- as regards production, processing and storage: winegrowers, including agricultural cooperatives and their unions, as well as brewers;
- as regards movement, small-scale winegrowers, including agricultural cooperatives and their unions. Small-scale producers are those that produce less than 1,000 hectolitres of wine per year and ship less than 1,000 hectolitres of wine per year under suspension of duty arrangements.
Obligations under authorised warehouse-keeper status
Obligations to comply with during operations:
- Keep stock records pursuant to Articles 302 G of the CGI, 286 I and 286 J of Annex II and 50-00 A to 50-00 H of Annex IV to said Code.
- File a monthly summary declaration, together with the assessment declaration, if applicable.
- Move, accordingly, the spirits and alcoholic beverages under cover of the accompanying documents (AAD-eAD and SAD) listed in Articles 302 M and 302 M ter of the CGI.
- File the monthly declaration of non-discharge of the accompanying documents and attach copies of the undischarged accompanying documents or the references of the eAD (ARC, Administrative Reference Code).
- File the annual inventory declaration (On 10 September for authorised warehouse-keepers making wine-sector products and on the 10th of the second month following the cut-off date for the accounts or the commercial financial year for the other authorised warehouse-keepers.
- Justify all entries of spirits or alcoholic beverages into the warehouse by providing the accompanying documents (eAD, AAD, SAD or approved commercial documents).
- Accept visits and inspections of your cellars, stores and wineries by customs officials.
Rules for keeping stock records
- For authorised warehouse-keepers producing the wine-sector products governed by Council Regulation (EC) 1234/2007 of 22 October 2007 establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets and on specific provisions for certain agricultural products (Single CMO Regulation), stock records are established by the wine-sector registers under the provisions set forth in Article 286 I of Annex II to the CGI;
- For other authorised warehouse-keepers, stock records are established in line with the provisions of Article 286 J of Annex II to the CGI.
The main accounts
The principal account tracing the receipt, storage and shipment of products and two accounts for production and processing operations:
- The first books products at the production stage
- The second books products at the processing stage
Stock records are kept:
- By tax rate in volume of pure alcohol and in actual volume for the spirits and alcohol-producing products referred to in Article 338 of the CGI.
- By tax rate, in actual volume, by colour and by designation of origin or denomination for intermediate products and the products mentioned in Article 438 of the CGI.
- By tax rate, in actual volume by ABV for beer.
Wine-sector products other than wine are covered by special provisions set forth in Article 286 J VII of Annex II to the CGI.