§1555. Bonded warehouses
(a) Designation; preconditions; bonding requirements; supervision
Subject to subsection (b) of this section, buildings or parts of buildings and other enclosures may be designated by the Secretary of the Treasury as bonded warehouses for the storage of imported merchandise entered for warehousing, or taken possession of by the appropriate customs officer, or under seizure, or for the manufacture of merchandise in bond, or for the repacking, sorting, or cleaning of imported merchandise. Such warehouses may be bonded for the storing of such merchandise only as shall belong or be consigned to the owners or proprietors thereof and be known as private bonded warehouses, or for the storage of imported merchandise generally and be known as public bonded warehouses. Before any imported merchandise not finally released from customs custody shall be stored in any such premises, the owner or lessee thereof shall give a bond in such sum and with such sureties as may be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury to secure the Government against any loss or expense connected with or arising from the deposit, storage, or manipulation of merchandise in such warehouse. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, bonded warehouses shall be used solely for the storage of imported merchandise and shall be placed in charge of a proper officer of the customs, who, together with the proprietor thereof, shall have joint custody of all merchandise stored in the warehouse; and all labor on the merchandise so stored shall be performed by the owner or proprietor of the warehouse, under supervision of the officer of the customs in charge of the same, at the expense of the owner or proprietor. The compensation of such officer of the customs and other customs employees appointed to supervise the receipt of merchandise into any such warehouse and deliveries therefrom shall be reimbursed to the Government by the proprietor of such warehouse.
(b) Duty-free sales enterprises
(1) Duty-free sales enterprises may sell and deliver for export from the customs territory duty-free merchandise in accordance with this subsection and such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe to carry out this subsection.
(2) A duty-free sales enterprise may be located anywhere within—
(A) the same port of entry, as established under section 1 of the Act of August 24, 1912 (37 Stat. 434), from which a purchaser of duty-free merchandise departs the customs territory; or
(B) 25 statute miles from the exit point through which the purchaser of duty-free merchandise will depart the customs territory; or
(C) a port of entry, as established under section 1 of the Act of August 24, 1912 (37 Stat. 434), or within 25 statute miles of a staffed port of entry if reasonable assurance can be provided that duty-free merchandise sold by the enterprise will be exported by individuals departing from the customs territory through an international airport located within the customs territory.
(3) Each duty-free sales enterprise—
(A) shall establish procedures to provide reasonable assurance that duty-free merchandise sold by the enterprise will be exported from the customs territory;
(B) if the duty-free sales enterprise is an airport store, shall establish and enforce, in accordance with such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, restrictions on the sale of duty-free merchandise to any one individual to personal use quantities;
(C) shall display in prominent places within its place of business notices which state clearly that any duty-free merchandise purchased from the enterprise—
(i) has not been subject to any Federal duty or tax,
(ii) if brought back into the customs territory, must be declared and is subject to Federal duty and tax, and
(iii) is subject to the customs laws and regulation of any foreign country to which it is taken;
(D) shall not be required to mark or otherwise place a distinguishing identifier on individual items of merchandise to indicate that the items were sold by a duty-free sales enterprise, unless the Secretary finds a pattern in which such items are being brought back into the customs territory without declaration;
(E) may unpack merchandise into saleable units after it has been entered for warehouse and placed in a duty-free sales enterprise, without requirement of further permits; and
(F) shall deliver duty-free merchandise—
(i) in the case of a duty-free sales enterprise that is an airport store—
(I) to the purchaser (or a family member or companion traveling with the purchaser) in an area that is within the airport and to which access to passengers is restricted to those departing from the customs territory;
(II) to the purchaser (or a family member or companion traveling with the purchaser) at the exit point of a specific departing flight;
(III) by placing the merchandise within the aircraft on which the purchaser will depart for carriage as passenger baggage; or
(IV) if the duty-free sales enterprise has made a good faith effort to effect delivery for exportation through one of the methods described in subclause (I), (II), or (III) but is unable to do so, by any other reasonable method to effect delivery; or
(ii) in the case of a duty-free sales enterprise that is a border store—
(I) at a merchandise storage location at or beyond the exit point; or
(II) at any location approved by the Secretary before the date of enactment of the Omnibus Trade Act of 1987.
(4) If a State or local or other governmental authority, incident to its jurisdiction over any airport, seaport, or other exit point facility, requires that a concession or other form of approval be obtained from that authority with respect to the operation of a duty-free sales enterprise under which merchandise is delivered to or through such facility for exportation, merchandise incident to such operation may not be withdrawn from a bonded warehouse and transferred to or through such facility unless the operator of the duty-free sales enterprise demonstrates to the Secretary that the concession or approval required for the enterprise has been obtained.
(5) This subsection does not prohibit a duty-free sales enterprise from offering for sale and delivering to, or on behalf of, individuals departing from the customs territory merchandise other than duty-free merchandise, except that such other merchandise may not be stored in a bonded warehouse facility other than a bonded facility used for retail sales.
(6)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), merchandise that is purchased in a duty-free sales enterprise is not eligible for exemption from duty under subchapter IV of chapter 98 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States if such merchandise is brought back to the customs territory.
(B) Except in the case of travel involving transit to, from, or through an insular possession of the United States, merchandise described in subparagraph (A) that is purchased by a United States resident shall be eligible for exemption from duty under subheadings 9804.00.65, 9804.00.70, and 9804.00.72 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States upon the United States resident's return to the customs territory of the United States, if the resident meets the eligibility requirements for the exemption claimed. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, such merchandise shall be considered to be an article acquired abroad as an incident of the journey from which the resident is returning, for purposes of determining eligibility for any such exemption.
(7) The Secretary shall by regulation establish a separate class of bonded warehouses for duty-free sales enterprises. Regulations issued to carry out this paragraph shall take into account the unique characteristics of the different types of duty-free sales enterprises.
(8) For purposes of this subsection—
(A) The term “airport store” means a duty-free sales enterprise which delivers merchandise to, or on behalf of, individuals departing from the customs territory from an international airport located within the customs territory.
(B) The term “border store” means a duty-free sales enterprise which delivers merchandise to, or on behalf of, individuals departing from the customs territory through a land or water border by a means of conveyance other than an aircraft.
(C) The term “customs territory” means the customs territory of the United States and foreign trade zones.
(D) The term “duty-free sales enterprise” means a person that sells, for use outside the customs territory, duty-free merchandise that is delivered from a bonded warehouse to an airport or other exit point for exportation by, or on behalf of, individuals departing from the customs territory.
(E) The term “duty-free merchandise” means merchandise sold by a duty-free sales enterprise on which neither Federal duty nor Federal tax has been assessed pending exportation from the customs territory.
(F) The term “exit point” means the area in close proximity to an actual exit for departing from the customs territory, including the gate holding area in the case of an airport, but only if there is reasonable assurance that duty-free merchandise delivered in the gate holding area will be exported from the customs territory.
(G) The term “personal use quantities” means quantities that are only suitable for uses other than resale, and includes reasonable quantities for household or family consumption as well as for gifts to others.
(c) International travel merchandise
For purposes of this section—
(A) the term “international travel merchandise” means duty-free or domestic merchandise which is placed on board aircraft on international flights for sale to passengers, but which is not merchandise incidental to the operation of a duty-free sales enterprise;
(B) the term “staging area” is an area controlled by the proprietor of a bonded warehouse outside of the physical parameters of the bonded warehouse in which manipulation of international travel merchandise in carts occurs;
(C) the term “duty-free merchandise” means merchandise on which the liability for payment of duty or tax imposed by reason of importation has been deferred pending exportation from the customs territory;
(D) the term “manipulation” means the repackaging, cleaning, sorting, or removal from or placement on carts of international travel merchandise; and
(E) the term “cart” means a portable container holding international travel merchandise on an aircraft for exportation.
(2) Bonded warehouse for international travel merchandise
The Secretary shall by regulation establish a separate class of bonded warehouse for the storage and manipulation of international travel merchandise pending its placement on board aircraft departing for foreign destinations.
(3) Rules for treatment of international travel merchandise and bonded warehouses and staging areas
(A) The proprietor of a bonded warehouse established for the storage and manipulation of international travel merchandise shall give a bond in such sum and with such sureties as may be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury to secure the Government against any loss or expense connected with or arising from the deposit, storage, or manipulation of merchandise in such warehouse. The warehouse proprietor's bond shall also secure the manipulation of international travel merchandise in a staging area.
(B) A transfer of liability from the international carrier to the warehouse proprietor occurs when the carrier assigns custody of international travel merchandise to the warehouse proprietor for purposes of entry into warehouse or for manipulation in the staging area.
(C) A transfer of liability from the warehouse proprietor to the international carrier occurs when the bonded warehouse proprietor assigns custody of international travel merchandise to the carrier.
(D) The Secretary is authorized to promulgate regulations to require the proprietor and the international carrier to keep records of the disposition of any cart brought into the United States and all merchandise on such cart.