Import procedure of custom clearance

Introduction

All goods imported into India have to pass through the procedure of customs for proper examination, appraisal, assessment and evaluation. This helps the custom authorities to charge the proper tax and also check the goods against the illegal import. Also it is important to note that no import is allowed in India if the importer doesn't have the IEC number issued by the DFGT. There is no requirement of IEC number if the goods are imported for the personal use.

Bill of Entry

A Bill of Entry also known as Shipment Bill is a statement of the nature and value of goods to be imported or exported, prepared by the shipper and presented to a customhouse. The importer clearing the goods for domestic consumption has to file bill of entry in four copies; original and duplicate are meant for customs, third copy for the importer and the fourth copy is meant for the bank for making remittances.

If the goods are cleared through the EDI system, no formal Bill of Entry is filed as it is generated in the computer system, but the importer is required to file a cargo declaration having prescribed particulars required for processing of the entry for customs clearance.

In the non-EDI system along with the bill of entry filed by the importer or his representative the following documents are also generally required:-

  • Signed invoice
  • Packing list
  • Bill of Lading or Delivery Order/Airway Bill
  • GATT declaration form duly filled in
  • Importers/ CHA's declaration
  • License wherever necessary
  • Letter of Credit/Bank Draft/wherever necessary
  • Insurance document
  • Import license
  • Industrial License, if required
  • Test report in case of chemicals
  • Adhoc exemption order
  • DEEC Book/DEPB in original
  • Catalogue, Technical write up, Literature in case of machineries, spares or chemicals as may be applicable
  • Separately split up value of spares, components machineries
  • Certificate of Origin, if preferential rate of duty is claimed
  • No Commission declaration

Amendment of Bill of Entry

Whenever mistakes are noticed after submission of documents, amendments to the bill of entry is carried out with the approval of Deputy/Assistant Commissioner.

Green Channel facility

Some major importers have been given the green channel clearance facility. It means clearance of goods is done without routine examination of the goods. They have to make a declaration in the declaration form at the time of filing of bill of entry. The appraisement is done as per normal procedure except that there would be no physical examination of the goods.

Payment of Duty

Import duty may be paid in the designated banks or through TR-6 challans. Different Custom Houses have authorised different banks for payment of duty and is necessary to check the name of the bank and the branch before depositing the duty.

Prior Entry for Shipping Bill or Bill of Entry

For faster clearance of the goods, provision has been made in section 46 of the Act, to allow filing of bill of entry prior to arrival of goods. This bill of entry is valid if vessel/aircraft carrying the goods arrive within 30 days from the date of presentation of bill of entry.

Specialized Schemes

Import of goods under specialized scheme such as DEEC and EOU etc is required to execute bonds with the custom authorities. In case failure of bond, importer is required to pay the duty livable on those goods. The amount of bond would be equal to the amount of duty livable on the imported goods. The bank guarantee is also required along with the bond. However, the amount of bank guarantee depends upon the status of the importer like Super Star Trading House/Trading House etc.

Bill of Entry for Bond/Warehousing

A separate form of bill of entry is used for clearance of goods for warehousing. Assessment of this bill of entry is done in the same manner as the normal bill of entry and then the duty payable is determined.

Bill of Entry - Cargo Declaration:

  1. Goods imported in a vessel/aircraft attract customs duty and unless these are not meant for customs clearance at the port/airport of arrival by particular vessel/aircraft and are intended for transit by the same vessel/aircraft or transshipment to another customs station or to any place outside India, detailed customs clearance formalities of the landed goods have to be followed by the importers. In regard to the transit goods, so long as these are mentioned in import report/IGM for transit to any place outside India, Customs allows transit without payment of duty. Similarly for goods brought in by particular vessel aircraft for transshipment to another customs station detailed customs clearance formalities at the port/airport of landing are not prescribed and simple transshipment procedure has to be followed by the carrier and the concerned agencies. The customs clearance formalities have to be complied with by the importer after arrival of the goods at the other customs station. There could also be cases of transshipment of the goods after unloading to a port outside India. Here also simpler procedure for transshipment has been prescribed by regulations, and no duty is required to be paid. (Sections 52 to 56 of the Customs are relevant in this regard).
  2. For other goods, which are offloaded importers, have the option to clear the goods for home consumption after payment of the duties leviable or to clear them for warehousing without immediate discharge of the duties leviable in terms of the warehousing provisions built in the Customs Act. Every importer is required to file in terms of the Section 46 an entry (which is called Bill of entry) for home consumption or warehousing in the form, as prescribed by regulations.
  3. If the goods are cleared through the EDI system no formal Bill of Entry is filed as it is generated in the computer system, but the importer is required to file a cargo declaration having prescribed particulars required for processing of the entry for customs clearance.
  4. The Bill of entry, where filed, is to be submitted in a set, different copies meant for different purposes and also given different colour scheme, and on the body of the bill of entry the purpose for which it will be used is generally mentioned in the non-EDI declaration.
  5. 5. The importer clearing the goods for domestic consumption has to file bill of entry in four copies; original and duplicate are meant for customs, third copy for the importer and the fourth copy is meant for the bank for making remittances.
  6. In the non-EDI system alongwith the bill of entry filed by the importer or his representative the following documents are also generally required: -
    • Signed invoice
    • Packing list
    • Bill of Lading or Delivery Order/Airway Bill
    • GATT declaration form duly filled in
    • Importers/CHA's declaration
    • License wherever necessary
    • Letter of Credit/Bank Draft/wherever necessary
    • Insurance document
    • Import license
    • Industrial License, if required
    • Test report in case of chemicals
    • Adhoc exemptionss order
    • DEEC Book/DEPB in original
    • Catalogue, Technical write up, Literature in case of machineries, spares or chemicals as may be applicable
    • Separately split up value of spares, components machineries
    • Certificate of Origin, if preferential rate of duty is claimed
    • No Commission declaration
  7. While filing the bill of entry and giving various particulars as prescribed therein the correctness of the information given has also to be certified by the importer in the form a declaration at the foot of the bill of entry and any mis-declaration/incorrect declaration has legal consequences, and due precautions should be taken by importer while signing these declarations.
  8. Under the EDI system, the importer does not submit documents as such for assessment but submits declarations in electronic format containing all the relevant information to the Service Centre. A signed paper copy of the declaration is taken by the service centre operator for non-repudiability of the declaration. A checklist is generated for verification of data by the importer/CHA. After verification, the data is submitted to the system by the Service Centre Operator and system then generates a B/E Number, which is endorsed on the printed checklist and returned to the importer/CHA. No original documents are taken at this stage. Original documents are taken at the time of examination. The importer/CHA also need to sign on the final document after Customs clearance.
  9. The first stage for processing a bill of entry is what is termed the noting of the bill of entry, vis-à-vis, the IGM filed by the carrier. In the non-EDI system the importer has to get the bill of entry noted in the concerned unit which checks the consignment sought to be cleared having been manifested in the particular vessel and a bill of entry number is generated and indicated on all copies. After noting the bill of entry gets sent to the appraising section of the Custom House for assessment functions, payment of duty etc. In the EDI system, the Steamer Agents get the manifest filed through EDI or by using the service centre of the Custom House and the noting aspect is checked by the system itself - which also generates bill of entry number.
  10. After noting/registration of the Bill of entry, it is forwarded manually or electronically to the concerned Appraising Group in the Custom House dealing with the commodity sought to be cleared. Appraising Wing of the Custom House has a number of Groups dealing with earmarked commodities falling under different Chapter Headings of the Customs Tariff and they take up further scrutiny for assessment, import permissibility etc. angle. Assessment:
  11. The basic function of the assessing officer in the appraising groups is to determine the duty liability taking due note of any exemptions or benefits claimed under different export promotion schemes. They have also to check whether there are any restrictions or prohibitions on the goods imported and if they require any permission/license/permit etc., and if so whether these are forthcoming. Assessment of duty essentially involves proper classification of the goods imported in the customs tariff having due regard to the rules of interpretations, chapter and sections notes etc., and determining the duty liability. It also involves correct determination of value where the goods are assessable on ad valorem basis. The assessing officer has to take note of the invoice and other declarations submitted alongwith the bill of entry to support the valuation claim, and adjudge whether the transaction value method and the invoice value claimed for the basis of assessment is acceptable, or value needs to be redetermined having due regard to the provisions of Section 14 and the valuation rules issued thereunder, the case law and various instructions on the subject. He also takes note of the contemporaneous values and other information on valuation available with the Custom House.
  12. Where the appraising officer is not very clear about the description of the goods from the document or as some doubts about the proper classification, which may be possible only to determine after detailed examination of the nature of the goods or testing of its samples, he may give an examination order in advance of finalisation of assessment including order for drawing of representative sample. This is done generally on the reverse of the original copy of the bill of entry which is presented by the authorized agent of the importer to the appraising staff posted in the Docks/Air Cargo Complexes where the goods are got examined in the presence of the importer's representative.
  13. On receipt of the examination report the appraising officers in the group assesses the bill of entry. He indicates the final classification and valuation in the bill of entry indicating separately the various duties such as basic, countervailing, anti-dumping, safeguard duties etc., that may be leviable. Thereafter the bill of entry goes to Assistant Commissioner/Deputy Commissioner for confirmation depending upon certain value limits and sent to comptist who calculates the duty amount taking into account the rate of exchange at the relevant date as provided under Section 14 of the Customs Act.
  14. After the assessment and calculation of the duty liability the importer's representative has to deposit the duty calculated with the treasury or the nominated banks, whereafter he can go and seek delivery of the goods from the custodians.
  15. Where the goods have already been examined for finalization of classification or valuation no further examination/checking by the dock appraising staff is required at the time of giving delivery and the goods can be taken delivery after taking appropriate orders and payment of dues to the custodians, if any.
  16. In most cases, the appraising officer assessees the goods on the basis of information and details furnished to the importer in the bill of entry, invoice and other related documents including catalogue, write-up etc. He also determines whether the goods are permissible for import or there are any restriction/prohibition. He may allow payment of duty and delivery of the goods on what is called second check/appraising basis in case there are no restriction/prohibition. In this method, the duties as determined and calculated are paid in the Custom House and appropriate order is given on the reverse of the duplicate copy of the bill of entry and the importer or his agent after paying the duty submits the goods for examination in the import sheds in the docks etc., to the examining staff. If the goods are found to be as declared andno other discrepancies/mis-declarations etc., are detected, the importer or his agent can clear the goods after the shed appraiser gives out of charge order.
  17. Wherever the importer is not satisfied with the classification, rate of duty or valuation as may be determined by the appraising officer, he can seek an assessment order. An appeal against the assessment order can be made to appropriate appellate authority within the time limits and in the manner prescribed. EDI Assessment:
  18. In the EDI system of handling of the documents/declarations for taking import clearances as mentioned earlier the cargo declaration is transferred to the assessing officer in the groups electronically.
  19. The assessing officer processes the cargo declaration on screen with regard to all the parameters as given above for manual process. However in EDI system, all the calculations are done by the system itself. In addition, the system also supplies useful information for calculation of duty, for example, when a particular exemption notification is accepted, the system itself gives the extent of exemption under that notification and calculates the duty accordingly. Similarly, it automatically applies relevant rate of exchange in force while calculating. Thus no comptist is required in EDI system. If assessing officer needs any clarification from the importer, he may raise a query. The query is printed at the service centre and the party replies to the query through the service centre.
  20. After assessment, a copy of the assessed bill of entry is printed in the service centre. Under EDI, documents are normally examined at the time of examination of the goods. Final bill of entry is printed after 'out of charge' is given by the Custom Officer.
  21. In EDI system, in certain cases, the facility of system appraisal is available. Under this process, the declaration of importer is taken as correct and the system itself calculates duty which is paid by the importer. In such case, no assessing officer is involved.
  22. Also, a facility of tele-enquiry is provided in certain major Customs stations through which the status of documents filed through EDI systems could be ascertained through the telephone. If nay query is raised, the same may be got printed through fax in the office of importer/exporter/CHA. Examination of Goods:
  23. All imported goods are required to be examined for verification of correctness of description given in the bill of entry. However, a part of the consignment is selected on random selection basis and is examined. In case the importer does not have complete information with him at the time of import, he may request for examination of the goods before assessing the duty liability or, if the Customs Appraiser/Assistant Commissioner feels the goods are required to be examined before assessment, the goods are examined prior to assessment. This is called First Appraisement. The importer has to request for first check examination at the time of filing the bill of entry or at data entry stage. The reason for seeking First Appraisement is also required to be given. On original copy of the bill of entry, the Customs Appraiser records the examination order and returns the bill of entry to the importer/CHA with the direction for examination, who is to take it to the import shed for examination of the goods in the shed. Shed Appraiser/Dock examiner examines the goods as per examination order and records his findings. In case group has called for samples, he forwards sealed samples to the group. The importer is to bring back the said bill of entry to the assessing officer for assessing the duty. Appraiser assesses the bill of entry. It is countersigned by Assistant/Deputy Commissioner if the value is more than Rs. 1 lakh.
  24. The goods can also be examined subsequent to assessment and payment of duty. This is called Second Appraisement. Most of the consignments are cleared on second appraisement basis. It is to be noted that whole of the consignment is not examined. Only those packages which are selected on random selection basis are examined in the shed.
  25. Under the EDI system, the bill of entry, after assessment by the group or first appraisement, as the case may be, need to be presented at the counter for registration for examination in the import shed. A declaration for correctness of entries and genuineness of the original documents needs to be made at this stage. After registration, the B/E is passed on to the shed Appraiser for examination of the goods. Along-with the B/E, the CHA is to present all the necessary documents. After completing examination of the goods, the Shed Appraiser enters the report in System and transfers first appraisement B/E to the group and gives 'out of charge' in case of already assessed Bs/E. Thereupon, the system prints Bill of Entry and order of clearance (in triplicate). All these copies carry the examination report, order of clearance number and name of Shed Appraiser. The two copies each of B/E and the order are to be returned to the CHA/Importer, after the Appraiser signs them. One copy of the order is attached to the Customs copy of B/E and retained by the Shed Appraiser. Green Channel facility:
  26. Some major importers have been given the green channel clearance facility. It means clearance of goods is done without routine examination of the goods. They have to make a declaration in the declaration form at the time of filing of bill of entry. The appraisement is done as per normal procedure except that there would be no physical examination of the goods. Only marks and number are to be checked in such cases. However, in rare cases, if there are specific doubts regarding description or quantity of the goods, physical examination may be ordered by the senior officers/investigation wing like SIIB. Execution of Bonds:
  27. Wherever necessary, for availing duty free assessment or concessional assessment under different schemes and notifications, execution of end use bonds with Bank Guarantee or other surety is required to be furnished. These have to be executed in prescribed forms before the assessing Appraiser. Payment of Duty:
  28. The duty can be paid in the designated banks or through TR-6 challans. Different Custom Houses have authorised different banks for payment of duty. It is necessary to check the name of the bank and the branch before depositing the duty. Bank endorses the payment particulars in challan which is submitted to the Customs. Amendment of Bill of Entry:
  29. Whenever mistakes are noticed after submission of documents, amendments to the of entry is carried out with the approval of Deputy/Assistant Commissioner. The request for amendment may be submitted with the supporting documents. For example, if the amendment of container number is required, a letter from shipping agent is required. Amendment in document may be permitted after the goods have been given out of charge i.e. goods have been cleared on sufficient proof being shown to the Deputy/Assistant Commissioner. Prior Entry for Bill of Entry:
  30. For faster clearance of the goods, provision has been made in section 46 of the Act, to allow filing of bill of entry prior to arrival of goods. This bill of entry is valid if vessel/aircraft carrying the goods arrive within 30 days from the date of presentation of bill of entry.
  31. The importer is to file 5 copies of the bill of entry and the fifth copy is called Advance Noting copy. The importer has to declare that the vessel/aircraft is due within 30 days and they have to present the bill of entry for final noting as soon as the IGM is filed. Advance noting is available to all imports except for into bond bill of entry and also during the special period. Mother Vessel/Feeder vessel:
  32. Often in case of goods coming by container ships they are transferred at an intermediate port (like Ceylon) from mother vessel to smaller vessels called feeder vessels. At the time of filing of advance noting B/E, the importer does not know as to which vessel will finally bring the goods to Indian port. In such cases, the name of mother vessel may be filled in on the basis of the bill of lading. On arrival of the feeder vessel, the bill of entry may be amended to mention names of both mother vessel and feeder vessel Specialised Schemes.
  33. The import of goods are made under specialised schemes like DEEC or EOU etc. The importer in such cases is required to execute bonds with the Customs authorities for fulfillment of conditions of respective notifications. If the importer fails to fulfill the conditions, he has to pay the duty leviable on those goods. The amount of bond would be equal to the amount of duty leviable on the imported goods. The bank guarantee is also required alongwith the bond. However, the amount of bank guarantee depends upon the status of the importer like Super Star Trading House/Trading House etc. Bill of Entry for Bond/Warehousing:
  34. A separate form of bill of entry is used for clearance of goods for warehousing. All documents as required to be attached with a Bill of Entry for home consumption are also required to be filed with bill of entry for warehousing. The bill of entry is assessed in the same manner and duty payable is determined. However, since duty is not required to be paid at the time of warehousing of the goods, the purpose of assessing the goods at this stage is to secure the duty in case the goods do not reach the warehouse. The duty is paid at the time of ex-bond clearance of goods for which an ex-bond bill of entry is filed. The rate of duty applicable to imported goods cleared from a warehouse is the rate in-force on the date on which the goods are actually removed from the warehouse. (References: Bill of Entry (Forms) Regulations, 1976, ATA carnet (Form Bill of Entry and Shipping Bill) Regulations, 1990, Uncleared goods (Bill of entry) regulation, 1972, , CBEC Circulars No. 22/97, dated 4/7/1997, 63/97, dated 21/11/1997)

Responsibilities of Customs Cargo Service provider:

The Customs Cargo Service provider shall -

  1. keep a record of imported goods, goods brought for export or transshipment, as the case may be, and produce the same to the proper officer as and when required;
  2. keep a record of each activity or action taken in relation to the movement or handling of imported or export goods and goods brought for transhipment;
  3. display or make available in any other manner, information of process or movement or handling of imported or export goods and goods brought for transhipment;
  4. demarcate separate areas for unloading of imported goods for their storage with respect to the category of importers, nature of goods, place of destination, mode of transportation or any other criterion as the Commissioner of Customs may specify having regard to the custody and handling of imported goods in a customs area;
  5. demarcate separate areas for loading of export goods for their storage with respect to categories of exporters, nature of goods, examined and sealed containers or other criterion as the Commissioner of Customs may specify having regard to the custody and handling of export goods in a customs area;
  6. not permit goods to be removed from the customs area, or otherwise dealt with, except under and in accordance with the permission in writing of the proper officer;
  7. not permit any export cargo to enter the customs area without a shipping bill or a bill of export having been filed with the proper officer;
  8. not permit any import cargo to enter the customs area or be unloaded therein without the import report or the import manifest having been filed with the proper officer;
  9. be responsible for the safety and security of imported and export goods under its custody;
  10. be liable to pay duty on goods pilfered after entry thereof in the customs area;
  11. be responsible for the secure transit of the goods from the said customs area to any other customs area at the same or any other customs station in accordance with the permission granted by the proper officer;
  12. subject to any other law for the time being in force, shall not charge any rent or demurrage on the goods seized or detained or confiscated by the proper officer;
  13. dispose off in the manner specified and within a time limit of ninety days, the imported or export goods lying unclaimed, uncleared or abandoned: Provided that the period of ninety days may be extended by the Commissioner of Customs by such further period as may be allowed, on sufficient cause being shown for delay in the disposal;
  14. not make any alteration in the entry or exit points or boundary wall without the permission of the Commissioner of Customs;
  15. shall bear the cost of the customs officers posted by the Commissioner of Customs on cost recovery basis and shall make payments at such rates and in the manner specified by the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance unless specifically exempted by an order of the said Ministry;
  16. shall observe the Central Government holidays as followed by the jurisdictional Customs formations and in case of any variation in the working days, intimate the same to Commissioner of Customs and the trade, at least seven days in advance, and
  17. abide by all the provisions of the Act and the rules, regulations, notifications and orders issued thereunder.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  • http://www.dov.gov.in/newsite3/clearance_procedure.asp
  • http://www.infodriveindia.com/Exim/Guides/How-To-Import/Ch_19_Custom_Clearance_of_Imported_Goods.aspx
  • http://www.cbec.gov.in/customs/cs-act/formatted-htmls/cs-import-regu_18mar09.htm

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