Import and Export Through Courier
Import and Export Through Courier
The facility of imports and exports by courier mode is permitted to those courier companies registered under Customs. These courier companies are called ‘Authorized Couriers.’ The courier parcels are usually carried by cargo/ passenger aircraft. In the case of clearance through Land Customs Stations (LCS), another transport mode is used. Both are permitted to file the Courier Import Manifest. The facility of courier clearance under manual mode is available at customs airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Calcutta, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Cochin, Coimbatore, Trivandrum, and Land Customs Stations at Gojadanga, and Petrapole. The courier clearances of the electronic mode of Customs clearance are soon set to be operational at Delhi and Mumbai airports.
Categories of Goods Allowed Import Through Courier
Except for specific categories, all goods can be imported using the courier mode. The exclusion of certain types of goods is done based on the fact that they require specific conditions that must be fulfilled under any other Act or rule, or regulation, like testing of samples, etc., on reference to the relevant authorities or experts before their clearance. In some instances, due to additional compliance requirements, the assessment and clearance process takes time. These goods are not eligible under this scheme, which envisages Customs clearance on a fast-track basis. Moreover, air terminals and LCS are not equipped to handle certain goods. The following categories of goods cannot be imported through courier mode.
- Precious and semi-precious cargo.
- Animals and plants.
- Publications that contain maps depicting incorrect boundaries of India.
- Precious and semi-precious stones and gold or silver in any form.
- Goods under the Export Promotion Schemes, including EOU Scheme.
- Goos exceed the weight limit of 70 kgs imported through courier under manual mode. However, under the electronic way, no restriction regarding the weight has been provided.
Clearance of goods under the EOU Scheme is permitted under electronic mode.
Categories of Goods Allowed Export Through Courier
All gods are permitted to exporters through courier except for the following categories.
- Goods attract any duty on exports.
- Goods exported under Export promotion schemes, such as Drawback, DEPB, DEEC, EPCG, etc.
- Goods where the consignment value is more than Rs. 25,000 and transactions in foreign exchange are involved (the limit of Rs. 25,000 does not apply when G.R. waiver or specific permission has been obtained from the RBI).
Import and Export of Gems and Jewellery
Import of gems and jewelry, including samples provided by EOUs or SEZ units, is allowed through courier. Similarly, the export of cut and polished diamonds, gemstones, and jewelry under any scheme of FTP from EOUs, SEZs, or DTA is permitted through courier, subjected to the cost of each export consignment under such export is not more than Rs. 20 Lakhs.
CBIC Update – Exports of Gems and Jewellery through Courier Mode
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) clarified the export of Gems and Jewellery through Courier mode. With this notification, CBIC announced that extant regulations do not restrict exports of gems and jewelry through the courier mode and only apply to imports. Gems and jewelry exports could be done through courier services following all other regulations in place for such exports.
Procedure for Clearance of Import Goods
To facilitate Customs clearance, the goods imported through courier are classified into the following categories.
- Documents that mention any message, information, or data recorded on paper, cards, or photographs containing no commercial value that do not attract duty or are subject to any prohibition/ restriction on their import or export.
- Any bonafide commercial samples and prototypes of goods that are supplied free of charge of a value not more than Rs. 50,000 for exports and Rs. 10,000 for imports that are not subjected to any prohibition or restriction on their import or export and which does not involve the transfer of foreign exchange.
- Any of the bonafide fit articles for the personal use of a value not more than Rs. 25,000 for a consignment in case of exports and Rs. 10,000 for imports that are not subjected to any prohibition or restriction on their import or export that does not involve the transfer of foreign exchange.
- Goods containing a declared value of up to Rs. 1,00,000 and dutiable or commercial goods having a claimed matter of more than Rs. 1,00,000
Various Customs declaration forms have been prescribed under the Courier Regulations for manual mode, simplified Bill of Entry has been mentioned for the clearance of goods. These goods are assessed for duty on merits like other imported goods, and exemption, wherever available, can be imported when it is claimed.
- Courier Bill of Entry-III for documents.
- Courier Bill of Entry-IV for samples and gifts.
- Courier Bill of Entry -V for commercial shipments up to a declared value of Rs. 1 Lakh.
The courier regulations for manual code stipulate for specific categories of import, a regular Bill of Entry prescribed in the Bill of Entry Regulations, 1976 has to be filed. This includes
- The goods that are imported under the EOU Scheme.
- Goods that are imported under DEPB, DEEC, and EPCG Schemes.
- Goods are imported against the license issued under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act of 1992.
- Goods imported by a related person are defined under the Customs Valuation Rules, 1988.
- Goods for which the concerned officer files a Bill of Entry.
- Goods have a declared value of Rs. 1 Lakh and above.
Asper the courier regulations for the electronic mode, the forms prescribed for filing Customs declarations are as follows.
- The Courier Bill of Entry-XI (CBE-XI) for documents in Form B.
- The Courier Bill of Entry-XII (CBE-XII) for gifts and samples in Form C.
- The Courier Bill oF Entry-XII (CBE-XIII) for low-value dutiable consignments in Form D.
- The Courier Bill of Entry-XIV for other dutiable consignments in Form E for import consignments.
Procedure for Clearance of Export Goods
For exporting goods, the Authorised Courier has to file Courier Shipping Bills with the respective officer of Customs at the airport or LCS before the flight’s departure or other modes of transport. Different forms have been prescribed for the export of documents and other goods. The Authorised Courier has to present the export goods to the concerned officer for inspection, examination, and assessment. For certain export goods, a regular Shipping Bill, as mentioned in the Shipping Bill and Bill of Export Regulations 1991, has to be filed. These Shipping Bills are processed at the Air Cargo Complex or the STP or EOUs or EHTP, and then with the permission of Customs, the goods are handed over to the courier agency for onward dispatch. The goods for which this procedure applies are given below.
- Goods from EOUs/ STPs/ EHTP.
- Goods that are exported under DEPB/ DEEC/ EPCG/ Drawback Schemes.
- Goods that require a license for exporting under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992.
As per the Courier Regulations for electronic mode, the forms for siling Customs declarations for export goods are
- Courier Shipping Bill-III (CSB-III) for documents in Form G.
- Courier Shipping Bill-IV (CSB-IV) for goods in Form H.
Examination Norms for Goods Imported or Exported by Courier
The below examination norms are provided for importing and exporting courier consignments.
- 100% screening of import/ export consignments has to be done through X-ray or other NIL techniques. The X-ray machines available with Customs can be used, or the airlines or AAI’s screening facility may be utilized for such screening. In addition, in appropriate conditions, the multi-agency screening can be combined to reduce the time taken and avoid duplicity.
- Physical examination of export documents, samples, gifts, and goods is limited to up to 10% of the total courier consignments. The selected consignments will be examined 100%.
- Selection of consignments for physical examination would be based on the parameters like the nature of goods, value, weight, status of the importer, etc.
- The Commissioner of Customs can excise the discretion of random examination of goods on particular parameters such as country of import/ export and the nature of interests as mentioned in the EDI system.
- The Customs can analyze any consignment to determine if there is any particular intelligence or if these are doubted during X-rays in the said consignment.
- Under the automated process, the consignments are identified for examination based on ‘risk analysis.’
An average Bill of Entry may be filed whenever a consignee intends to take CENVAT credit for the paid duty on imported goods. This applies to the courier clearances as per the manual mode.
Transshipment of Goods
Transshipment of Goods between two Customs stations is applicable per the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 and Goods Imported Regulation, 1995, and other instructions. In many circumstances, the consignments imported through the courier node may also be transferred to the cargo terminal of the same airport for clearance purposes. Such transfer is similar to the local movement of cargo from one customs area of the Customs station to the next custom area of the same station. This is covered by the local procedure evolved by the jurisdictional Commissioner of Customs.
Disposal of Uncleared Goods
The Courier regulations for both the manual and electronic modes depict a clearance procedure for uncleared goods. For imported goods, the same is required to be detained by Customs, and a notice is issued to the Authorized courier that the goods can be disposed of after the expiry of 30 days of the mentioned goods. The Authorised Courier should take care of the charges for storing and holding such goods. A procedure similar to imported goods is prescribed for export goods. The only dissimilarity is that if the goods have not been exported within seven days of arrival into the Customs Area or within the extended period, it would be permitted by the Customs.
Registration of Authorised Courier
A person in need of operating as an Authorised Courier must register himself with the jurisdictional Commissioner of Customs. Per the manual code regulations, the registration is valid for ten years and renewable for another ten years if the performance of the courier is satisfactory. Similar provisions are contained in regulation for the electronic mode other than the initial registration period is fixed as two years.
The person applying for registration has to be financially viable and produce a certificate issued by a Scheduled Bank or other proofs as evidence of possession of the assets of a value, not below Rs. 25 Lakhs. Moreover, the person has to execute a bond with the security of Rs. 10 Lakhs for registration at Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, and Chennai. The security deposit is Rs 5 Lakh in other airports and LCS. The security deposit can be made in the form of cash or the Form of postal security, Bank Guarantee, or National Savings Certificate. A condition for registration is that the applicant has to agree to pay the duty, if any, not levied or short-levied with interest, if applicable, on any goods taken clearance by the Authorised Courier.
An authorized Courier registered at one customs station can transact business at more than one airport or LCS subjected to giving of intimation in the prescribed Form. However, separate bind and security must be furnished at every airport and LCS.
Existing Authorised Couriers who have registered or transacting business in terms of Regulation 12 of the Courier Imports and Exports Regulations, 1998, at locations where the automated clearance facilities become operational will be eligible to file declarations according to the electronic mode without any need for a new appointment or fresh intimation, that are subjected to the fulfillment of other conditions or requirements according to the courier Regulations for the electronic mode. Therefore, once a person is registered as an Authorized Courier, he can file declarations under both ways that are subjected to compliance with other requirements of the concerned Regulations.
Updates: Courier Imports and Exports (Clearance) Amendment Regulations 2021
As part of reducing the compliance burden on stakeholders, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has taken measures to simplify the registration requirements of Authorized Couriers. In this regard, CBIC vides a notification dated 27th October 2021 has issued the Courier Imports and Exports (Clearance), Amendment, Regulations, 2021.
These amendments provide lifetime validity to an Authorized Courier Registration in place of the existing system of validity periods and renewals.
The obligation of Authorised Courier
Several obligations are levied on the Authorised Courier. Some of the essential commitments are given below.
- File declarations for clearance of imported or exported goods through a person who has passed the examination according to Regulation 8 or 19 of the Customs House Agents Licensing Regulations, 2004, and those duly authorized under Section 146 of the Act.
- He advises his clients to abide by the provisions of the Customs Act of 1962 and the rules and regulations made under the Act.
- Verify the antecedent and the correctness of the Importer Exporter Code (IEC), the client’s identity, and the client’s functioning in the declared address by using reliable, independent, authentic documents, data, or information.
- Excise due diligence in furnishing the information to the Customs about the import or export goods clearance.
- Not withholding any information related to the assessment and clearance of import and export of the goods from the Assessing Officer and not trying to influence the conduct of any Customs officer by using threats, false accusations, coercion, or offering any special inducement, etc.
- Maintains records and accounts prescribed by the Customs and abides by all the provisions of the Act and the notifications, rules, regulations, and orders issued under the Act.
The obligation of the Authorised Courier to verify the antecedents, to identify the client and the functioning of the client in the declared address by using reliable, independent, authentic documents, data, or information that is based upon the increasing number of offenses that are involved in several modus-operandi like fraud and duty evasion by bogus IEC holders, etc. Elaborative guidelines on the list of documents that are to be verified and have to be obtained from the client or customer. However, the client or the customer must furnish to the Authorised Courier any two of the listed documents. The client/ customer does not have to give a photograph to the Authorised Courier.
According to the Handling of Cargo in Customs Areas Regulation 2009, a provision mentions the necessity of prior approval of Customs if the Authorised Courier needs to sub-let/ outsource any components in the door-to-door supply chain. This is required since an Authorised Courier is a person engaged in the international transportation of goods for export and import on a door-to-door delivery basis and is registered on behalf of the Jurisdictional Commissioner. The fundamental reason for extended expeditious clearance facilities is that the Authorised Couriers have appropriate verifiable and secure work processes on a global basis supported by a complex I.T. infrastructure for knowledge and information management. Such companies have their in-house mechanisms to safeguard against the use of express supply chains by unscrupulous elements. Hence, any unauthorized sub-letting or supply chain may defeat the very purpose behind the facility of expeditious clearance. The Commissioners of Customs have to review the available facilities with the Authorised Couriers appointed under their charge to ensure compliance. During this, any sub-letting or outsourcing due care has to be taken to ensure that it does not go against the purpose behind the facility of expeditious clearance.
De-Registration and Forfeiture of the Security
The Commissioner could cancel the registration of an Authorised Courier, and his security can be accused of failing to abide by the conditions of the bond, the provisions of regulations, and misconduct. Revocation of registration can be made only when a notice is issued to the Authorised Courier and when he is given an opportunity to present his case in writing and an opportunity of being heard in the matter. If there is a need to conduct an inquiry to establish prima facie the grounds against the Authorised Courier, the Commissioner of Customs could suspend the registration. An Authorised Courier, by order of the Commissioner, can represent the Chief Commissioner within 60 days of communication of the impugned order.