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Import customs clearance procedures in India

 What is the procedure of Import clearance?

Before the arrival of your goods keep ready all the pertaining documents required for import clearance. The major documents required are Bill of Lading or Airway bill, commercial invoice, packing list, Cargo Arrival Notice, Freight certificate, purchase order or LC and other specific documents for your goods.

Track the shipment of arrival properly to avoid. Because you need to customs clear the cargo as early as possible on arrival of shipment. Otherwise, you need to pay demurrage to the import handling authorities.

A limited number of days of two or three are allowed by import handling authorities as free of cost time duration. You can complete the customs formalities within this time normally, subjected to produce of all required documents with customs.

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Once the cargo arrives in port, the carrier of goods files Import General Manifest (IGM) with customs department. IGM is the details of the import of goods to be filed with customs mandatory, by all carriers once goods arrived. Normally, each aircraft or vessel has one IGM number and each of consignments carries ‘line numbers’.

you will have one IGM number and a ‘liner number’ for your particular shipment. You need to enter this numbers in the specified column of Bill of Entry while filing. This number will be automatically linked with your document while filing uploading the bill of entry details with customs web software.

The Bill of Entry number is generated at one place for all over the ports of country as per software queue automatically. If your goods are under green channel clearance, you can directly take delivery of cargo with simple procedures at port.

You can view the status of bill of entry online whether any ‘query’ is there and blocked the process or already ‘passed’ over to next procedures. If any ‘query’ for further documentation or personal meeting, you can follow the same. The importer or his agent may be called for personal hearing for any clarification required by customs officials under certain types of goods imported where in customs requires more clarification. Once the bill of entry assessment completed by customs official, the document passes over for inspection. You can arrange the examination of goods by ‘goods registration’ electronically at customs department software system.

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The inspection is carried out under the supervision of necessary customs officials and enters examination report in the system. Once approving the inspection report by concerned officer, bill is ‘passed out of customs’ for delivery, if no duty amount is involved. If duty involved, you can arrange to pay the same and produce with the deputed customs officials.

Prints of processed bill of entry are generated and customs officer signs physically on the said bill of entry. You can arrange delivery of cargo once after submitting the bill of entry of ‘passed out of customs’ with the carrier of goods.

The carrier, after collecting necessary charges if any, issued delivery order to the custodian of cargo. The custodian of cargo delivers cargo to you.  You move the cargo to your place.


Consult: Top Customs and Central Excise Lawyers in India


What types of goods are detained by the Customs office?

Goods are seized by Indian customs in the following cases:

If the import/export of the said goods are prohibited

If the import/export of the said goods are subjected to conditions which are not fulfilled (imported in excess of allowed quantity, non - declaration, concealment etc.)

Goods seized by Indian Customs are first kept in sealed condition in godowns/warehouse under the custody of Customs. Then, goods are immediately disposed of. Otherwise, goods are kept in the Customs custody until litigation/trial is over. If court rules in favour of Customs, then goods are disposed of following the procedure otherwise goods are hand over back to the party.


What is the procedure of disposal of goods?

Step 1 - Customs prepares Inventory of the seized goods with details of description, quality, quantity, identifying marks, and country-of-origin

Step 2 - A Magistrate will then,

certify the correctness of the inventory so prepared

allow taking the photographs in his/her presence and certify those photographs as true

allow the drawing of representative samples


Step 3 - Joint Price Committee will inspect the goods and will decide upon the Fair Price/Reserve Price of the goods. 

Step 4 - There will be 4 days of exhibition of the goods for the inspection of prospective buyers. 

Step 5 - After inspection, e-Auction of goods will be carried out for the disposal.

Step 6 - Food stuff with the value less than 5 lakh rupees are disposed of through National Consumer Corporation of India.


Step 7 - Metal objects are auctioned through MSTC Ltd. 

Step 8 - Gold objects are auctioned through State Bank of India. 

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What to do when your goods are detained by the Indian Custom?

When a good is detained by the Indian Custom, you receive a notice about same from the custom office. If your goods were for personal use and not for commercial use, inform about it to the custom office, while replying to the notice. The custom office after considering your case and whether you have complied with terms and conditions of importing such goods will allow you to clear it. 


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