As a first within the European Union Customs Zone, Monaco recently opened the Monaco Freeport for the secure storage of works of art, antiques, jewellery and collectable articles. For the period that articles are held in the Freeport customs duties, VAT and other taxes and duties that might otherwise apply are suspended.
The Freeport has been established on an initiative by the Monaco Government with the objective of developing business related to art, antiquities, jewellery and other high value articles. The only restrictions are the prohibition on uncut and unset stones and the physical dimensions of the article. The Government is the 100% shareholder of the operating company SEGEM*.
The depositor is not obliged to pay a deposit or caution before the deposit of items in the Freeport. Articles are permitted to remain in storage for an unlimited period, there is no requirement for such articles to be either removed or the taxes and duties paid after a fixed time, as can be the case in other free ports. The overriding criterion is that the Freeport is not used for the indefinite storage of goods.
While deposited in the Freeport articles are free to be removed, eg for auction, display or exhibition, and can then be returned without undue formality. Within the Freeport facility secure space is available for the display to a buyer or inspection by experts of the articles deposited there.
The Freeport facility occupies 1,200m² of fully climate controlled, high security premises in the heart of Monaco in the district of Fontvieille which offers easy access by road and air, through the helicopter link with Nice airport. Secure units of 20m² to 90m² are available within the facility and are leased from SEGEM by operators which have been duly authorised and approved by the Monaco authorities. Currently three operators have been approved with another five soon to pass through the approval process.
The operators are required to obtain full details of the beneficial owner of the items deposited. This information is retained by the operator which is not required to provide KYC information either to SEGEM or the Monegasque authorities. As a result, the Freeport offers a high level of confidentiality to depositors.
The Government’s objective in establishing the facility is to develop the existing international business in fine art and collectables in Monaco and not to simply provide secure high tech storage. The aim is to enhance the structure for international auctions in the Principality, as well as the related services to local Monegasque and international collectors. In summary, the Freeport is intended to develop the economic and artistic environment in the Principality and place Monaco as an active party in the world of international high value auctions.
In a recent speech, the Monaco Minister of Finance, Jean Castellini, said, ‘This is a new tool to enhance the attractiveness of the country and which draws together the world of art, collectors, experts…and patrons’.
We consider that this unique facility within the EU should meet its intended objectives and is a welcome addition to the already comprehensive range of services available within the Principality.
* Société d’Exploitation et de Gestion des Entrepôts de Monaco SAM