Customs Clearance of Imported Goods

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Customs Clearance of Imported Goods

At this stage, the importer is required to present all relevant documents. After this, the B/E is sent to the customs officer who is in-charge for conducting the examination. The officer in charge, who carries out the physical examination of goods, is called dock appraiser or shed appraiser. After the examination of goods is complete, the dock appraiser uploads his report of examination in the Indian Customs EDI System (ICES).

In addition, the dock appraiser also sends the first check B/E, which contains the remarks of the dock examiner. After the goods have been assessed by the appraising group and the duty payment has been made, the dock appraiser gives the ‘out of charge’ order for the import goods. The dock appraiser gives the order through the ICES system. At this stage, three copies of the B/E and one copy of the clearance order are printed by the system.

The contents of these copies include the examination report, the number of the clearance order (or release order), name of the examiner, etc. Out of the three copies of the B/E, two copies of the B/E and one copy of clearance order duly signed by the dock appraiser, are returned back to the importer or to his customs housing agent (CHA). The remaining copy of the B/E is retained in the records of the customs by the dock examiner. With the help of the clearance order, the importer can take the delivery of his goods.

Bonding & Ex-Bonding of Warehoused Goods

A bonded warehouse is a storehouse that is under the customs authority of a country. This type of warehouse is used by importers for storing their import goods without paying the duty. In other words, bonded warehouses are ones that are licensed by the government and are used for the storage of duty-pending imports. Such warehouses may be fully under the control of customs authorities or may be privately owned by individuals or a company who has obtained a valid license.

These warehouses are usually located near ports. Here, it should be noted that storing goods in a bonded warehouse is a choice of importers. Generally, after goods arrive at the port (sea port or airport), the shipper or the airline allows a specific time limit within which the goods are actually moved by importers to their facilities and the containers of the shipper or airline are returned by the importers. In case the importers are unable to move the goods and return the containers to the respective carrier, a certain amount of penalty is charged from the importers.

On the contrary, a bonded warehouse is a convenient option for importers as they are located near ports where the shipper may move the import goods immediately after the arrival of goods. Therefore, bonded warehousing is relatively an inexpensive alternate for storing goods. Apart from this, bonded warehouses serve as an excellent option for importers who do not have their own storage facility.

Apart from this, some other benefits of bonded warehouses from the perspective of importers are as follows:

  • In case an importer wants to re-export his imports, no duty payment has to be made.

  • If the importer stores his goods in bonded warehouses and does not clear his goods within a specified time frame, the customs authority can destroy or auction these goods. Even in this case, the importer does not need to pay duty.

  • The importer can take the delivery of the import goods after the payment of duty.

  • The importer who does not have his own warehouse can store their import goods in bonded warehouses when the supply of goods is greater than the demand.

  • The importer can take the delivery of goods in instalments from bonded warehouses. The duty has to be paid only on the volume of goods for which the delivery is being taken.

  • The import goods are stored under a safe and insured place in bonded warehouses.

  • The importers who deal in perishable items can also use bonded warehouses where the cold storage facility is available.

  • The importer may bring potential buyers to a bonded warehouse in order to display the working of import goods.

  • Various facilities like processing, packing, blending, grading of goods, etc. are also available at bonded warehouses.

For storing import goods in bonded warehouses, a bond needs to be signed between the importer and the customs department. The bond states that the goods would be stored safely and would not be cleared if the appropriate duty is not paid. Now, when the importer wants to take back his goods from the warehouse, he has to pay the duty at time of ex-bond clearance of the import goods.

Ex-bond clearance means that the goods kept in bonded warehouses are cleared after furnishing the ex-bond B/E. For clearing the goods on an ex-bond basis, ex-bond B/E has to be filed by the importer. This process of clearing the goods from a bonded warehouse of customs is called the ex-bonding of import goods. The importer has to pay the rate of duty that is applicable at the date on which the ex-bond B/E is filed.

Demurrage Charges

Every importer and exporter is given a specific time period in which he/she has to load his/her goods into the carrier or unload the goods from the carrier. However, if the exporter or importer is unable to do so in the specified period, charges are levied on him/her. These charges are called demurrage charges. These charges were introduced to ensure the timely loading and unloading of goods by exporters and importer.

There may be conditions when an importer or exporter on whom demurrage charges have been levied is unable to pay the same. In such instances, the shipper may keep the goods under its custody till the time the charges are paid. In most cases, charges are applicable when there is delay in loading/unloading; however, if the delay is due to some unavoidable circumstances, the charges may be waved off. Apart from demurrage charges, there are two more concepts, namely detention charge and reciprocal demurrage charge, are in place.

Let us understand these two concepts with the help of an example. Suppose a carrier arrived on 1st January at a port. The importer is informed about the arrival of his goods and he is given five days’ time to collect his goods from the port and return back the containers to the shipper. It means that he had to collect his goods from the shipper before January 5. The importer reached on January 10 to collect his goods. Therefore, in this case, the importer had to pay demurrage charges for five days (6th-10th January).

Now, assuming that the importer took 4 more days to return back the containers to the shipper, then another charge known as detention charge will be applicable. The rate of demurrage and detention charges is fixed by the shipper. Assume that a carrier had agreed to load the goods into the ship and start towards the destination on January 1 but the ship started towards the destination on January 4. In this case, the shipper will have to pay the reciprocal demurrage charge for four days to the exporter whose shipment has been delayed because of the shipper.

Claims for Uncleared Goods/ Untraced Goods and Damaged Goods

There may be a case when import goods are not cleared by customs. A separate procedure of clearance is followed for these goods. These types of import goods are called uncleared or untraced goods. As per the Customs Act 1962, the duty has to be levied on import goods even if they lay unclaimed or uncleared in the customs warehouse. Apart from the duty to be paid to customs, custodian charges, carrier charges, etc. may also be due for payment. In case, no claimant comes to claim goods, the customs is authorised to sell unclaimed or uncleared goods and recover the duty and other dues from the amount that comes in by selling these goods.

Section 48 of the Act also has provisions regarding the disposal of goods by the custodian if the goods are not cleared for home consumption or warehoused within 30 days as well as regarding the sale proceeds of such goods. The 30 day limit starts from the day the goods are unloaded at the port. However, it is essential to issue a notice in this regard to the importer of the goods. For selling or disposing goods, the custodian needs to obtain a prior permission from the customs.

The generic procedure to dispose the goods is as follows:

  • The custodian of goods sends a sale list of the items that he wants to dispose to the customs department. Here, it should be noted that the custodian can sell or dispose only the goods that have been lying unclaimed or uncleared for more than 45 days. This list is sent on a monthly basis. The customs department has to provide an acknowledgement and mention the date when the list was received.

    The list contains the details of goods such as the bill of lading, airway bill number, weight, name of exporter and importer, etc. The custodian issues a notice to the importer that if the goods are not cleared by the importer within 15 days, they would be sold as per Section 48 of the Customs Act.

  • The customs department inspects the sale list sent by the custodian against their records and inform the custodian about the goods which should not be disposed. The customs department withdraws items that fall in the following categories:

    • Goods on Negative list of Import

    • Consignments which are under investigation/adjudication/ court proceedings

    • Motor Vehicles of all types

    • Other specific items intimated by Commissioner. In addition, restrictions imposed under Allied acts, if any, shall be observed, some examples are as under:

      • All drugs/ pharmaceuticals and chemical not accompanied by labels, manufacturer’s name should be referred to the Assistant Drugs Controller / Laboratory for test report and advice before they are disposed of.

      • Goods like food stuffs, insecticides, fertilisers, etc. which are subject matter of clearance from any other authority will be disposed of after obtaining the necessary clearance from the respective authorities.

      • Goods which are totally prohibited and are not allowed to be imported like Narcotic drug, arms and ammunition etc. shall be separated, adjudicated and confiscate.

  • The customs department has to inform the custodian within a time period of 15 days about the sales list. If no intimation is received by the custodian during this time, the custodian can go ahead with the disposal process.

    • The custodian appoints valuers who fix a reserve price for goods to be sold.

    • The goods are disposed by public auction or e-auction or tender. A maximum of four auctions or tenders are allowed and the goods are sold at the highest bid price in the last auction/ tender. The goods are sold even if the bid price is below the reserve price.

  • The disposal of hazardous waste is categorised as either banned or regulated. The banned waste may be either re-exported provided it is permissible or destroyed provided the risk, cost, and potential consequences would be the sole responsibility of the importer. If the waste falls under the category of regulated hazardous waste, it may be reprocessed or recycled after obtaining clearance from the Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Waste Management.

There may be a case when import goods get damaged or deteriorated before or during unloading or after the unloading but before the examination, or before the clearance for home consumption. As per Section 22 in the Customs Act, 1962,

(1)Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the 1[Assistant Commissioner of Customs or Deputy Commissioner of Customs]—

  • that any imported goods had been damaged or had deteriorated at any time before or during the unloading of the goods in India; or

  • that any imported goods, other than warehoused goods, had been damaged at any time after the unloading thereof in India but before their examination under section 17, on account of any accident not due to any wilful act, negligence or default of the importer, his employee or agent; or

  • that any warehoused goods had been damaged at any time before clearance for home consumption on account of any accident not due to any wilful act, negligence or default of the owner, his employee or agent, such goods shall be chargeable to duty in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (2).

In the case of damaged goods, duties are still charged for goods. For this purpose, the value of damaged or deteriorated goods has to be ascertained. This can be done by two methods. As per Section 22 in the Customs Act, 1962.

(2) the duty to be charged on the goods referred to in sub-section (1) shall bear the same proportion to the duty chargeable on the goods before the damage or deterioration which the value of the damaged or deteriorated goods bears to the value of the goods before the damage or deterioration.

(3) For the purposes of this section, the value of damaged or deteriorated goods may be ascertained by either of the following methods at the option of the owner:—

  • the value of such goods may be ascertained by the proper officer, or

  • such goods may be sold by the proper officer by public auction or by tender, or with the consent of the owner in any other manner, and the gross sale proceeds shall be deemed to be the value of such goods.

Import of Samples

A sample is an item or a specimen that serves as a representative of the whole. Business persons, individuals, and companies often need to send a specimen or sample of their product for the purpose of demonstration or display in other countries. Similarly, in India, businesspersons send samples to importer in other countries.

For example, assume that a manufacturer of new compact music player wants to sell his goods abroad. First, he has to send a few samples of his product to the importers in a different country where he wants to sell the product. In such cases, the representative of such manufacturers sends the samples through courier or through post. The representative may also carry the sample along with him in his personal baggage provided the value of each individual sample is not more than ₹5000.

However, it is important that such representative declares that the goods are being imported for the demonstration purpose and acquiring orders. In India, importers may import such samples so as to determine the usage and characteristics of the product and determine if the product can be marketed in the country or not. Samples may include consumer durables, engineering prototypes, equipment, machineries, etc. depending on the nature of business.

The samples can be imported into a country on a duty free basis only if the value of an individual sample is not more than ₹5000 and the total cumulative value of the goods is not more than ₹3 lacs/year or 50 units of samples in a year. However, some importers may attempt to avoid duty by importing the goods in small lots. Therefore, repeated import of samples in small lots is not allowed by customs authorities.

In case a foreign company sends samples to more than one importer in India through the same port (shipping port or airport), duty is not charged provided the value of each individual sample does not exceed ₹5000. All the samples that are to be sent to different importers may be imported together if the different samples are packed individually and the names of the addressees are mentioned clearly.

Engineering prototypes whose value does not exceed ₹10,000 and that are imported as capital goods for export production or are imported for additional manufacturing can be imported on a duty-free basis. Such prototypes can be taken by the importer after paying duty (or bank guarantee) and providing an undertaking mentioning that the machinery would be re-exported within the stipulated time period of nine months. Apart from this, there is another category of highly valued machinery prototype that is imported for the purpose of demonstration.

The place of demonstration must be declared in advance. In such cases, customs have the authority to seal the prototype from the port where it is imported and unseal it only at the declared place of demonstration. However, the machinery must be re-exported within the stipulated time period of nine months.

Import by Courier and Post

Import Through Courier

Import through courier can be cleared either manually or through electronic means. The manual clearance process for import goods received through courier is governed by Courier Imports and Exports (Clearance) Regulations, 1998. In contrast, the electronic clearance process for import goods received through courier is governed by Courier Imports and Exports (Electronic Declaration and Processing) Regulations, 2010. The parcels are examined along with the documents.

In case any duty is payable, it is paid by the courier company before they take the delivery of the goods. Not all courier companies can indulge in the import of goods; only the courier companies registered with the customs department can make imports through courier. The registered courier companies are called authorised couriers. Usually, courier goods are shipped via passenger or cargo aircrafts. If the courier goods are shipped through other transport means, clearance has to be done through Land Customs Stations (LCS).

The importing courier company has to file the Courier Import Manifest in both cases irrespective of the fact that the clearance is being done through the port customs station or by the LCS. Courier Import Manifest is a document similar to the IGM with the difference that for general imports, IGM has to be filed while in the case of imports through courier, Courier Import Manifest has to be filed. Barring a few categories of goods, all the goods can be imported through courier. The goods that may require the testing of samples or goods, which are deemed unfit for import through courier, are not allowed.

According to Courier Imports and Exports (Clearance) Regulations, 1998, various categories of import goods that may be received or sent through courier are as follows:

  • Documents that include any message, information or data recorded on paper, cards or photographs having no commercial value, and which do not attract any duty or subject to any prohibition/ restriction on their import or export;

    • Samples: Any bonafide commercial samples and prototypes of goods supplied free of charge of a value not exceeding ₹50,000/- for exports and ₹10,000/- for imports which are not subject to any prohibition or restriction on their import or export and which does not involve transfer of foreign exchange.

    • Free gifts: Any bonafide gifts of articles for personal use of a value not exceeding ₹25,000/- for a consignment in case of exports and ₹10,000/- for imports which are not subject to any prohibition or restriction on their import or export and which do not involve transfer of foreign exchange.

    • Low value dutiable or commercial goods: Goods having a declared value of up to ₹1,00,000/-; and

    • Dutiable or commercial goods: Goods having a declared value of more than ₹1,00,000/-.

According to Courier Imports and Exports (Clearance) Regulations, 1998, the following is a list of category of items, which cannot be imported through courier:

  • Precious and semi-precious cargo
  • Animals and plants
  • Perishables
  • Publications containing maps depicting incorrect boundaries of India
  • Precious and semi-precious stones, gold or silver in any form

Gems and jewellery and their samples can be imported in India by means of courier. However, such goods should be sent by export-oriented units or special economic zone units. For import goods through courier cleared manually and through electronic means, different types of B/E are used. The import goods through courier can also be eligible for the exemption from duty.

Different courier bills of entry for clearance through the manual mode are as follows:

  • Courier B/E-III for documents,
  • Courier B/E-IV for samples and free gifts, and
  • Courier B/E-V for commercial shipments up to a declared value of ₹one lakh

For the imports through courier cleared electronically, different types of B/E are as follows:

  • Courier B/E-XI (CBE-XI) for documents in Form B,
  • Courier B/E-XII (CBE-XII) for free gifts and samples in Form C,
  • Courier B/E-XIII (CBE-XIII) for low value dutiable consignments in Form D,
  • Courier B/E-XIV (CBE-XIV) for other dutiable consignments in Form E for import consignments.

In the manual clearance process, the goods are appraised and the assessment of duty takes place as in the case of general import. After the physical examination and the payment of duty, the importer can take the delivery of his goods. Now, it is important to note whether the B/E is filed manually or electronically, the examination of goods has to be carried out as mentioned below:

  • 100% screening of import goods, including the documents, has to be done using x-ray machines. The x-ray machine of customs, airlines, or the Airports Authority of India (AAI) can be used.

  • Out of 100% import goods received through courier, a maximum of 10% can be examined physically.

  • The Commissioner of Customs can carry out the random examination of goods.

  • The customs may also perform the examination of 100% import goods received through courier if there is some specific intelligence input in this regard or if there are some doubts in the x-ray examination.

The procedure for the electronic clearance of goods received through courier is as follows:

  • Express Cargo Manifest -Import (ECM-I) in Form A, has to be filed by the authorised courier with the concerned customs officer.

  • No parcels may be opened without the prior permission of the Commissioner of Customs.

  • The authorised courier has to present Courier B/E-XI (CBE-XI) for documents in Form B or the Courier B/E-XII (CBE- XII) for free gifts and samples in Form C or the Courier B/E-XIII (CBEXIII) to the concerned officer of customs so as to make an entry of the goods imported by him.

  • At this stage, the authorised courier has to present import goods for the purpose of examination and assessment.

  • If the authorised courier does not clear the goods within 30 days, the goods may be disposed by the custodian or detained by the concerned customs officer. These goods can be sold after a notice has been sent to the authorised courier. In this process, if any charges are accrued, they are to be paid by the authorised courier.

  • After the examination, if any duty is to be paid has to be submitted by the authorised courier before taking the final delivery of the goods.

For some imports (as mentioned underneath), a regular B/E is to be filed instead of Courier B/E.

  • Goods imported under EOU scheme

  • Goods imported under DEEC and EPCG schemes

  • Goods imported against the license issued under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation), Act, 1992

  • Goods imported by a related person defined under the Customs Valuation Rules, 1988

  • Goods in respect of which the proper officer directs filing of a B/E

  • Goods having a declared value of more than ₹one lakh.

Now, in case the courier is received as import but is not cleared or claimed by the authorised courier, a notice is sent to the authorisedcourier. After 30 days, if no claimant comes forward for the courier, it can be disposed of. As mentioned earlier, not all courier service providers can import and export goods. For obtaining the status of an authorised courier, the courier has to be registered with the Commissioner of Customs.

The registration is valid for 10 years. An authorised courier can file declarations through both manual as well as electronic mode provided it fulfils the conditions as prescribed in the respective regulations.

Import Through Post

Apart from courier, goods can also be imported through the post. The import goods through the post are facilitated by the post office at their branches called foreign post offices. The imports at such post offices have to go through the clearance procedure by customs officers. In the case of goods received through post, the parcel may contain description, quantity, value of goods, etc. and these details are treated as a declaration and no separate import manifest is required.

The rate of duty applicable is calculated on the basis of the date at which the details of goods for the purpose of assessment are presented to customs by the postal department. These details are treated at par with the filing of B/E. Through post, letter mail articles are received; however, the clearance is provided only if these letter mail articles do not contain any dutiable articles. In case the customs department feels that any letter mail article is suspicious, it may examine the same at foreign post offices.

Dutiable items cannot be imported by letter mail articles. However, if a declaration is made regarding the nature, weight, value of contents or if a separate declaration stating that the letter or packet can be opened for customs examination is made, only the dutiable goods can be imported by post. The customs must be satisfied with the declaration and details. There are items as per the foreign trade policy or the Customs Act 1962, which are exempted from the prohibition and can be imported by post for personal use on the payment of applicable duty.

If the amount of customs duty is less than 100, it is exempted. In case of import of gifts through post, the gifts whose value does not exceed ₹10,000 (excluding freight and postal charges) can be imported by post without the payment of duty. The value of ₹10,000 is the value of goods in the country from where these were sent. All items barring ones that are prohibited for import as per the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act of 1992 can be imported. The gifts must be for personal use only.

The quantity of gifts received in addition to the frequency of receiving such gifts should be genuine and they should not give rise to doubt that these gifts are being used for any other purpose other than gifting. Any individual, society, business house or institution may receive gifts. In case the value of imported gifts is more than ₹10,000;duty and other charges (if applicable) have to be paid on the total value of the gift. The customs department calculates the duty which is collected by the postal department and then paid to the customs department.

The receiver of goods (as gift) may have to pay a penalty for the import of restricted items even if he did not intend to receive that gift. The restricted goods may be confiscated. In such a case, the receiver of goods has to pay the redemption fee along with duty and penalty amount. The receiver of goods can be penalised if he receives prohibited items such as narcotic drugs, arms, and ammunition as gift. Such goods are confiscated.

In case of import of samples through the post, engineering prototypes and bonafide commercial samples can be cleared on a duty free basis if the value of these items does not exceed ₹10,000 and the samples have been provided by the foreign entity free of cost. The importers who possess an IEC code are allowed to import samples on a duty free basis if the value of such samples does not exceed ₹1 lac or 15 units in the time frame of one year.

Such goods must be marked as samples and the importer has to file a declaration stating that the samples have been imported for the purpose of demonstration or display. If the declaration is found to be untrue, the applicable duty has to be paid by the importer. The import of Indian or any foreign currency notes and/or coins by post is not allowed.

However, customs may allow the import of Indian and foreign currency by post if the value of currency does not exceed ₹5000 and if the following conditions are met:

  • Approval is granted by Assistant/ Deputy Commissioner of Customs;

  • A detailed record is maintained of the exemptions granted;

  • Record of the name and addresses of the remitter and addressee in India is maintained; and

  • Where a spurt is noticed in the number of covers received over a time, the matter may be reported to the concerned Regional Office of RBI.

If the value of the currency received through post exceeds ` 5000, such parcels are detained by the customs and can be cleared after obtaining a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from RBI. However, no clearance is required from RBI for the import of currency if it is imported by authorised dealers who import currency from their foreign branches.

Duty Free Imports-passenger Baggage

Passengers, who enter or leave India, carry along with them baggage in the form of handbag and other baggage. Goods carried by passengers in their baggage are duty free.

There are two types of baggage, which are as follows:

  • Accompanied Baggage: It is a baggage that a passenger carries along with him during the journey.

  • Unaccompanied Baggage: It is a baggage that a passenger does not carry with him. Rather, such baggage is sent to the final destination (where the passenger is going) by a shipping company and this baggage is carried as cargo. For unaccompanied baggage, it must be dispatched within a month (or as specified by the Assistant Commissioner of Customs) of the passenger’s arrival in India. The baggage may also arrive two months prior the arrival of passenger. The unaccompanied baggage is charged at normal rate of duty.

In most of the international airlines a Disembarkation Card is provided to the passengers in which they have to fill in the details of all the goods, their exact quantity, and their value. When the passenger gets down at the destination port, the immigration authority retains the immigration portion of the Disembarkation Card. Now, the passenger collects his baggage from the conveyer belt and enters the customs area. In the customs area, the passenger may seek clearance via either of the two clearance channels namely green channel or the red channel.

Green channel is a channel for passengers who either are not carrying dutiable goods outside the free limit or have nothing to declare. Such passengers can cross the green channel without going through any customs procedure or questioning. However, it is necessary to provide an oral declaration or declaration on the Disembarkation Card before their exit. On the other hand, red channel is a channel for the passengers who either have something to declare or carry goods above the prescribed duty-free limit. For clearance through red channel, the passenger has to provide the customs portion of the Disembarkation Card to the concerned customs officer.

In India, the following are some regulations related to duty-free import goods that passengers carry in their baggage:

  • A passenger may import baggage items (i.e. the items that are contained in the baggage of the passenger such as cloths, footwear, etc.) for personal use or for the use of his family only. The customs officers impose higher levels of fines and penalties besides prosecution under law as applicable in case the offenders fall in the category of frequent short visit passengers or are repeat offenders.

  • Jewellery in the form of gold or silver can also be imported as baggage. An Indian passenger returning back to India after one year or more can bring jewellery on a duty-free basis in his bonafide passenger baggage subject to value restrictions. A male passenger may bring jewellery of value up to ₹50,000 and a female passenger may bring jewellery of value up to ₹1 lac.

  • A passenger who holds a valid passport or a passenger of Indian origin (Indian or foreign national) is returning to India after a period of six months can import specified quantities of gold and silver as baggage subject to payment of duty. The duty must have been paid in foreign currency. Gold up to 1 kg can be imported at the rate of duty 10%. Silver up to 10 kgs can be imported at the rate of duty 10%

  • The customs authorities have also fixed certain duty-free allowances for tourists who are not Indians or who do not fall into the category of persons of the Indian origin. A tourist’s stay must not be more than 6 months. The purpose of the visit may be touring, recreation, sports, health, family reasons, study, religious pilgrimage, or business, etc. For Pakistani tourists, the duty-free allowance is ₹6,000. For foreign tourists and tourists of Nepalese and Bhutanese origin, the duty-free allowance is ₹8,000.

  • The customs authorities have also fixed certain allowances for the persons who are transferring their residence (transfer of residence (TR)) to India. However, this is subject to certain conditions. The duration of stay abroad must not be less than two years. The person who seeks TR must not have stayed a total of six months including all the short visits to India. However, the minimum stay of two years can be relaxed by two months. Granting such relaxation is under the authority of the Assistant Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioner.

    Also, they can relax the condition of not more than six months of stay in some exceptional cases. Such individuals who are transferring their residence can import used personal goods and household articles of value up to ` 5 lacs. Cigarette’s, tobacco, cigars, liquor, gold and silver over and above the prescribed duty free limit are not allowed. In addition, some goods (such as TV, VCR, AC, etc.) have been specified by the customs authority which cannot be cleared on a duty-free basis. A lower rate of duty is levied on such goods; currently this rate has been fixed at 15%.

  • There can also be situations where an Indian individual living abroad dies. In such a case, all the household articles and personal goods of that individual can be imported back to India free of duty. However, a certificate of ownership of the goods by the deceased person must be issued by the Indian Embassy or the High Commission.

  • In some cases, the passenger is not able to take the clearance of his baggage owing to improper documents or not being able to pay the requisite duty. In such cases, the customs may detain such baggage for re-export when he goes back from India or for clearance on payment of duty.

  • At times, airlines mishandle the baggage of passengers. In such cases, the passenger has to obtain a certificate from the airlines and get it countersigned by the customs department; and this certificate must mention the unutilised amount of duty-free baggage. This duty free allowance will be utilised when the airline delivers it to the passenger.

  • The customs declaration baggage form has been prescribed by the Customs Baggage Declaration Regulations, 2013. This form has been prescribed by the Bureau of Immigration (BoI) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and has to be filled in by all incoming passengers.

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