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'Work with Wisdom' Practical Work Guide to Officials.

Customs Consultant - Topicwise Practical Guidance to officials in import & Export Clearance

Preamble to Customs Clearance Work

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Customs Clearance from CFS

Verification of Documents:
A. Bill Entry:
B. Bill of Lading:
C. Invoice:
D. Packing List:
E. Commodity based checks and verification:


• An officer posted to a CFS in writing, is the Proper Officer to grant OOC u/s 47.
• The Customs Officer will satisfy herself/himself that the cargo pertains to the particular CFS by verifying the Original Delivery Order.
• If the endorsement made by the CFS is not specific or is vague, or any insufficient endorsement of receipt at CFS is produced, the officer should ask the CFS to make good the deficiency and provide the accurate numbers of Containers/packages/qty. actually received at the CFS.
• The Customs Officer will register the cargo in the EDI system only after satisfying herself/himself that all the FCL containers / the entire bulk cargo covered in the particular Bill of Entry have been received at the CFS vide the acknowledgement issued by the CFS.

• The officer should commence the subsequent steps of Customs Clearance formalities – verification of documents, inspection or examination of the container/cargo only after registration of the cargo in the EDI system.
• Container Nos. / Seal Nos. / Marks have to be verified from the original or duly attested legible documents like BL / Invoice / Detailed Packing List.
• ‘Duly Attested Documents’ means those documents attested/certified by the importer or by the authorized person, to be ‘True Copy/Attested’. The signatory has to affix rubber stamp containing her/his name and designation under the signature. The signatory has to write the date of signature. In the absence of any of the foregoing, the documents should not be treated to be ‘duly attested’. Since attestation carries a personal responsibility and risk of the signatory, illegible scribbling etc. should not treated as attestation.
• The officer cannot grant clearance of cargo, which are not physically available in the particular CFS. Only in respect of containers / goods lying in that particular CFS the proper officer posted to the CFS can grant OOC.
• Containers not selected for examination should not be allowed to be taken delivery or removed by the Importer before Customs Out of Charge [COOC] is granted in the EDI system since the COOC is granted for the entire cargo covered in the BE [irrespective of whether selected for examination or not].

Verifications to be done:-

A. Bill Entry:
1. Bill of Entry should have been signed by the Importer / CHA or authorized representative. In case it is signed by the CHA, Name and Customs Identity Card No. is to be mentioned therein.
2. The description of goods should be sufficient to arrive at the correct classification and valuation of the imported goods. Where Brand name or Product code alone is mentioned as description, it would become impossible to verify correctness of the classification. In the RMS, full and proper description and correct classification of the product is essential. To verify its correctness, the tariff classification mentioned in the Bill of Entry should agree with the description of the goods mentioned in the Invoice. In case the description in invoice is insufficient to decide the classification or if the classification is wrong in terms of the description, BE has to be forwarded to the Group for giving appropriate orders.
3. Importers are required to specify the brand, model, grade, specification and other like particulars in respect of imported goods. If only part of the description of goods found in the Invoice is displayed in the EDI system screen, the full description has to be entered in the system as ‘comments’. However, if the full description warrants revision of classification which in turn has a bearing on the importability or valuation or in extending benefit of notification, case has to be registered and BE to be forwarded to the Group.
4. Additional information to be sought from importers. Description of goods should indicate:- Generic Name, Brand, Model, Make, Number, Specifications, Grade, Purity, Configuration, Capacity, Denier etc. [depending upon trade practice in respect of such goods] which may have a direct bearing on valuation, classification and extension of exemption benefit. 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.
5. The Registered Office, Branch Officer or Factory address of the importer mentioned in the Bill of Entry should find place in the IEC issued by the DGFT. The Importer Exporter Code would stand cancelled if the change of address is not carried out in the DGFT records within 90 days. The Shed Customs Officer may check the data available with the department with regard to a new importer.
6. Country of Origin: The country of manufacture and the country of consignment are relevant for customs valuation, imposition of Anti-dumping duty etc. The importers should properly declare the above information. There may be situations where the goods manufactured in one country is supplied from another country and the invoice is raised from a third country. Whenever such goods are imported, special effort need be taken to find out whether full and correct details are furnished about the goods as well as the COO, Country of Export etc. Alphabetical List of items on which Anti-dumping duty is leviable is being prepared.
7. Where the goods are supplied free of charge, (FOC), or the value declared is for customs purpose only - being No commercial value (NCV), RMS facilitation cannot be extended. BE to be marked to Group for assessment.
8. Valuation: List of items attracting MRP based assessment and abatement. Ntfn. 13/CE (NT) dated 1.3.2002 as amended from time to time. Alphabetical List of items on which MRP based assessment is to be done is being prepared.
9. Requirement to fulfill prescribed conditions for availing of Notfn. benefit: Wherever effective rates are subject to fulfillment of prescribed conditions, importers are to produce original documentary proof to that effect.

B. Bill of Lading:
1. Where no physical examination is prescribed, verification of marks on the package and tallying the number of packages alone need be done in respect of Less Container Load (LCL) consignments. If there are no marks found on the packages, examination has to be contemplated. Where the import is in Full Container Load (FCL), the Container No. and Seal No. as mentioned in the Bill of Lading are to be verified. If the seal is not intact or the number found on the seal is different, security and revenue are at stake. It would be a fit case for investigation by the SIIB/DIU to find out whether any prohibited or valuable goods were brought in the container and illegally taken away before Customs clearance.
2. Description of goods found on the Bill of Lading may be compared with the Invoice. Additional details found may be entered in to EDI system as ‘comments’. If the difference in the description affects the importability or classification or valuation or in extending benefit of notification benefit, BE has to be forwarded to the Group.
3. In respect of FCL consignments where ‘less than the normal weight’ [for such commodities] is declared, actual weight ascertained by the Custodians may be verified for confirmation.
4. If as per the Bill of Lading, the Buyer and Consignee are different, the buyer alone can take clearance being the title holder of the imported goods.
5. If the sale is on LC terms or the documents are sent through the Bank, bank attested Bill of Lading is to be demanded.

C. Invoice:
1. The importer has to produce signed invoice. In case it is claimed that the invoice is system generated and hence no signature needed, this has to be permitted by the DC/AC Docks. [Chapter 3 Para 2.5 CBEC Customs Manual, 2011 prescribed Signed Invoice to be produced]
2. Fax / E-Mail copies of invoice and other documents duly certified by the importers may be accepted for clearance of consignments as permitted in CBEC Cir.40/98-Cus. Where the term of payment is other than DP, the importer could not have obtained DO without producing the original documents to the Liners. Hence only original documents are to be demanded in all such cases.
3. Extra care should be taken when accepting Fax / E-Mail copies of Invoices for clearance of the consignment. Original Fax / E-Mail print out should be demanded which would enable verification as to whether the Fax / email originated and received through the Fax No. / email ID of the seller and buyer mentioned in the Invoice.

D. Packing List: Only ‘Detailed packing list’ has to be produced [not summary PL] to Customs to enable examination of selected packages.

E. Commodity based checks and verification:
Prohibitions / Restrictions on Import: Rules, Regulations, Orders issued by various administrative Ministries and enforced by Customs – as the agency stationed at the border. Any product not fulfilling the statutory provisions is not allowed to be imported into India.
1. Chemicals: Generic name and analytical / test report are essential to decide correct classification. The label on the container should tally with the description including the generic name in all respects in its entirety. Even a minor difference in the generic name could mean a major change in classification resulting in serious repercussions and damage. Import of the following chemicals included in the Schedule 2 to the Chemical Weapons Convention of the UN is permitted only from the State parties to the Convention. List:- i) ii) iii) pg 829
2. Cotton Fabrics: Specific rate of duty is prescribed for certain varieties of fabrics viz. Upholstery, depending upon the usage. In the absence of such information in the Invoice / Packing List etc. a write up from the supplier may be obtained.
• The importers can themselves get the consignment cleared from Customs or they may engage a Custom House Agent.
• It would be unlawful to engage any unlicensed person to undertake Custom Clearance work at the Custom House.
• A licensed person either personally or through an employee [duly approved by the AC or DC of Customs designated by the Commissioner] can carry on business as an agent (CHA) as per Sec. 146 of the Customs Act, 1962.
• If a CHA chooses to transact business through an employee, two conditions are to be met: (1) the person need to be currently employed by the CHA and (2) the employee to be approved by AC / DC based on production of proof of employment.
• Before clearance from Customs, all pre-packaged imported commodities (ranging from 10gm/ml to 25 Kg/Litres, in certain cases upto 50 Kg – with certain exceptions) have to conform to the requirements of Standards of Weights & Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1976. [Ch.9 CBEC Customs Manual] DGFT Notfn 44 (RE)2000 dt 24.11.2000
• Packaged commodities imported from the manufacturer as raw material for making final products or imported for own consumption are exempted from requirements of Packaged Commodities Rules
• Failure to fulfill the requirements of Packaged Commodities Rules, would warrant penal action.
• Packaged commodities listed under Notfn. 14/2008 dt 1.3.2008 when imported into India – meant for retail sale, shall be assessed on MRP-based valuations
• Price declared on the packages has to be the same as the MRP declared in the BE. If any discrepancy is noticed, BE to be marked back to Group for suitable action / adjudication.
• In case of RMS facilitated [where no assessment and no examination is prescribed] BEs also, the requirements of the Packaged Commodities Rules are to be fulfilled.
• Any discrepancy noticed is to be immediately recorded in the Discrepancy Register kept at the CFS and the AC/DC Docks informed officially. [Any discrepancy noticed cannot be condoned or overlooked by the Shed Customs Officers themselves].
Disclaimer: While due care has been taken in reviewing and publishing the contents, the contributors or the publishers are not responsible or liable for any loss or damage caused to any one due to any interpretation, error, omission or commission. All disputes are subject to jurisdiction of Chennai Courts only.