Custom procedures in India

To speed up import and export procedures, the Indian Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has introduced the Indian Customs EDI System (ICES) and the Indian Customs EDI Gateway, also known as the Indian Customs and Excise Gateway (ICEGATE). It allows for the electronic submission of import documents at 40 customs locations in India. Importers and exporters may use their Importers/Exporters Code (IECs) to get access to the system or can register with the system to obtain an ICEGATE ID. Exporters and importers can use services of Customs House Agents licensed by the Commissioner of Customs that are well known with the custom procedures and can speed up the process.

Export documents 

The Foreign Trade Policy requires the same minimal documents for exports as for imports. These include:
  • Importer/Exporter Code (IEC): the IEC code is needed for all exports procedures and can be obtained from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
  • Shipping bill/bill of export: before submitting the export bill it is necessary to obtain a PAN based Business Identification Number (BIN) from the Customs. Besides it is needed to open a current account in the designated bank for crediting of any drawback amount.
  • Bill of lading: after custom procedures are completed, the bill of lading will be provided by the shipping company.
  • Export General Manifest: needs to be submitted to customs by the shipping company. Customs will issue a proof of export which is an export promotion copy of the shipping bill.
  • Commercial invoice: to be provided by exporter.
  • Packing list: required for customs clearance and to be submitted in triplicate. No specific form is required. The Packing List needs to be prepared by the exporter in English.
Other documents that need to be provided for the exports of seafood include:
  • Certificate of origin: in order to benefit from GSP tariffs, consignments need to be accompanied with a Certificate of Origin (an A Form). For marine products, these can be obtained from MPEDA.
  • Health certificate: all shipments to the EU have to be accompanied with a health certificate. The Export Inspection Agency offers an e-health-certificate service through its on-line portal from which EU and non-EU approved manufacturing and merchant exporters can obtain health certificates.
  • Catch certificates: For exports of wild fish and seafood products to the EU, the consignments need to be accompanied with catch certificates. MPEDA is responsible for validating catch certificates.
  • Registration Cum Membership Certificate (RCMC): this certificate is needed to benefit from potential duty and tax benefits. Registration can be obtained through MPEDA.

Import documents

The required documents for import are summed up in the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020 and include bill of lading, commercial invoice, packing list and bill of export. However, according to the EU market access desk, the following documents are required to clear goods through customs and satisfy Indian partners:
  • Importer/Exporter Code (IEC): the IEC code is needed for all import procedures and can be obtained from the the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)
  • Import General Manifest (IGM): needs to be submitted by the carrier to customs prior to the arrival of the cargo (if transported by sea or air) or upon arrival of the cargo (if transported by rail or road)
  • Bill of Entry: to be completed by the importer in English
  • Commercial Invoice: a document containing the details of the transaction. The invoice may be prepared in any language. A translation into English is, however, recommendable.
  • Pro Forma Invoice: a document containing the details of the transaction made out prior to the proper invoicing and in addition to the Commercial Invoice
  • Declaration of Dutiable Value: required if goods exceed a value of INR 1,000. To be completed by the importer in English. If the Bill of Entry  is submitted through ICEGATE, it is integrated in the Bill of Entry form.
  • Packing List: required for customs clearance and to be submitted in triplicate. No specific form is required. The Packing List needs to be prepared by the exporter in English.
  • Proof of Preferential Origin: if preferential treatment under a free trade agreement or arrangement is claimed, the proof of preferential origin document needs to be submitted by the exporter.
  • Bill of Lading: if goods are shipped by sea without a document of title to goods, a Sea Waybill is used instead. This is required for customs clearance and can be prepared by the carrier or his agent as a clean or unclean Bill of Lading.
For the import of foodstuffs there are three additional documents to be submitted to customs:
  • Licence to Import and Sell Foodstuffs: to import and sell foodstuffs a licence needs to be obtained at the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Processing time is 60 days.
  • CITES Permit: required for customs clearance. The permit needs be applied for by the importer at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • Veterinary Health Certificate for Animal Products: issued by the appropriate sanitary authorities of the country of export. The authority responsible for veterinary controls of animal products in India is the Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DADF)

Support us!

You are reading the ShrimpTails magazine for free. Please leave us your e-mail and name so we can keep you posted on ShrimpTails and STIP news.