Custom Clearance Services- An Overview
With the expansion of trade credit and removal of trade barriers in India, there has been an increase in the amount of exports and imports in the country. The government repealed the foreign exchange regulation Act, 1973 (FERA) and in its place brought the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999. Through economic reforms and liberalisation the government improved the amount of imports in the country. With the increase in imports and exports in the country, there was a requirement of custom clearance services.
Custom Clearance is the process which involves the documentation and procedures related to export and import of goods and services into the country. In India there are separate customs authorities that deal with the documentation and process related to customs. The Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs (CBIC) is the main regulatory authority dealing with customs in India. This authority also deals with taxes.
Apart from the above, there are separate state and metropolitan authorities dealing with Custom clearance services in India. For example, the Delhi Customs would deal with customs procedures related to all goods and services which are brought into Delhi and sent outside Delhi. There is separate customs for Air Cargo and Freight Clearance Services.
In India there is a separate regulation that deals with Custom Clearance Services. All documentation and procedures related to customs is present under the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962. Under the customs act, 1962 the government has the authority to appoint customs officers as designated ports, airports, customs ports and other borders. This is present under section 7 of the Customs Act, 1962. Such requirements come for unloading of imported goods and loading of goods which are going to be exported. Under the act, customs officers have the powers similar to that of police departments and include confiscation of goods and making arrests.
Where are Custom Clearance Services required?
Custom clearance services are required in the following places:
Benefits of Custom Clearance Services
All countries have custom clearance services. Having such services would ensure that there is no form of smuggling of goods and narcotic substances into the country. The following are the benefits of custom clearance services:
- Prevents Smuggling of Goods
By having custom clearance services in a country any form of smuggling of goods is prevented. For example individuals travelling from Dubai and Middle Eastern countries are not allowed to bring gold into India. Even if an individual purchases gold in Dubai they would have to provide the proof of purchase such as a bill. However, customs authorities in India would only permit a limited quantity of gold in the country.
- Prevents Money Laundering
Having custom clearance services in the country would also prevent money laundering and bringing of foreign currency into India. Through this the amount of foreign exchange reserves can be preserved in the country.
- Helps in Maintaining the Integrity of the Country
Through these services the integrity of the country can be protected. For example, only permitted goods would be allowed to be exported outside the country. There are certain goods which are prohibited in the country. Hence by having such services the national integrity of the country would be preserved.
- Checks Supply
By maintaining custom clearance services, the country can check the amount of goods sent outside India. Official data related to supply of goods can be tracked through such processes.
- Protection of Animal and Human Health
By having customs clearance services in the country, there can be constant checks on animal and human trafficking in the country. There have been various cases of human trafficking which have occurred in the past. However, this has been effectively solved through having custom clearance services.
- Helps in Maintaining the Quality of Goods and Products
By having custom clearance services in India the quality of goods and products which are imported to India would be maintained. Proper standards related to quality products would be secured through this service.
- Improves Foreign Trade
Custom Clearance Services would improve the amount of foreign trade with a particular country. For example, goods would be sent to the European Union (EU) and the USA. Through this, different forms of trade relations would be developed with foreign countries. This would improve the amount of foreign trade with India.
Foreign Trade Policy
The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) regulates the provisions related to export of goods and services outside India. There are different forms of consolidated policies which would be applicable to India. Currently the foreign trade policy which India is utilising is the foreign trade policy (FTP) 2015-2020. This policy gets amended every 5 years in compliance with the requirements of the rules.
When goods are exported from India, they would have to clear customs. Similarly when goods are imported into India there are different forms of custom clearance services which are required to comply with the provisions of the law related to customs.
It is necessary that all the goods entering into the country from another country, including personal effects, are cleared by the customs.
Prior to entry of goods into the country, necessary amount of custom duty has to be paid and only then the customs authorities release the goods.
Types of Custom Clearance Services
The following are the types of Custom Clearance Services:
- International Clearance Services
- Export Clearance Services
- Import Clearance Services
- International Clearance Services
This form of custom clearance services would include any goods or products which are entering India from other parts of the world. For this the customs authority under the Customs Act, 1962 has placed customs officers at designated entry port in India. For example if goods are brought to Delhi by air, customs officers would inspect the goods and cargo to check if they comply with the requirements of Customs Law. Similarly if goods are brought through the respective sea port, customs would be carried out at the respective port before they are allowed to be transported in India.
The following services would comprise under International Custom Clearance Services:
• Shipments which are exported outside India, Apart from this, complying with the requirements of the foreign jurisdiction would also be included under the purview of the above.
• Securing all forms of clearances related to imports that are brought in India.
• Other necessary documentation and clearance required as per the respective customs requirements.
- Export Clearance Services
This process would include the services which are undertaken by a particular country to export the products or goods to another country. For carrying out export of products there are different authorisations required to be obtained by an exporter or a business house.
For example, one of the criteria which are required for export of goods from the country would be the IEC certification. The IEC certification is mandatory for an exporter to send goods outside India.
Export services have to be dealt with the requirements of the country. The following has to be carried out during the process of export of goods and products:
Packaging Requirements of Products
When products are exported outside the country, they would have to comply with the requirements related to packaging. There are different standards which are incorporated by other countries related to packaging. Custom Clearance Services would also include complying with the requirements relating to packaging.
Shipping of Goods
Goods are shipped from one country to another. There are important commercial law terms such as CIF and FOB which are utilised in commercial contracts. As per the above requirements the insurance, bill of lading and commercial receipt has to be given by the seller or the buyer. However, the way of freight would depend on the service used.
Port of Delivery and Offloading
This would also include the charges related to port of delivery and offloading.
Inspection of Goods
When goods are offloaded in the destination, they would be held for the inspection.
- Import Clearance Services
Custom Clearance Services related to import would include all the procedures involved for bringing of goods and products into the country.
Procedure for Custom Clearance Services in India
When goods and products are brought into India, there is a prescribed procedure to be followed:
- Vessel Calling
When entering the territory of India, the pilot of the vessel would usually call the vessel at the port of customs. When goods come through air freight usually the pilot would carry out the responsibility related to calling. Usually such processes would be handled by the airline company or shipping company.
- Import General Manifest
Generally the person or individual responsible for importing goods into India has to electronically fill up the Import General Manifest. This would provide information that the vessel is carrying the goods to the respective destination.
- Verification of Import General Manifest
Once the Import General manifest has been verified along with the documents, the vessel would be allowed to enter into the customs port. With this a unique reference number known as the Import General Manifest (IGM) number would be provided to the master of the vessel to unload the goods.
- Custody of Goods
Till all the clearances are obtained for the import of goods and products, the goods would be under the custody of the custodian.
- Bill of Entry
The importer has to make an electronic filing of the bill of entry related to the goods before the arrival of the shipment. Here information related to relevant duty on the goods would be mentioned as per the requirements. After verifying the bill of entry, the importer would be required to pay the requisite amount of GST. This information would be noted in the Indian Customs Electronic Data Interchange System (ICEDIS).
- Delivery of Goods
Once the goods pass through customs, they would be sent to the place of delivery.
The following documents are required for Custom Clearance Services:
Documents for Import
- Bill Of Entry
- Air way Bill
- Bill of Lading (If the Import of Goods is through Ship)
- License related to Import
- Letter of Credit (This is also known as the purchase order)
- Information on the Goods (If Required)
- Excise Duty
- License if Any
- Import Export Certificate
- DGFT Declaration
Documents for Export
- Customs Declaration
- Commercial Invoice
- IEC Certificate
- Inspection Certificate
- Packaging List
- Shipment Certificate