Import customs clearance procedures in India

हिंदी में पढ़ें
August 23, 2022
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty

What is the procedure of Import clearance?

  1. Before the arrival of your goods keep ready all the pertaining documents required for import clearance. The major documents required are the 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.

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

  3. 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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  4. Once the cargo arrives in port, the carrier of goods files an Import General Manifest (IGM) with the 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 the consignments carries ‘line numbers.

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

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

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

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

  9. Prints of a processed bill of entry are generated and the 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.

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

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What types of goods are detained by the Customs office?

Goods are seized by Indian customs in the following cases:

  1. If the import/export of the said goods is prohibited

  2. If the import/export of the said goods are subjected to conditions that 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/warehouses under the custody of Customs. Then, goods are immediately disposed of. Otherwise, goods are kept in Customs custody until litigation/trial is over. If the court rules in favor of Customs, then goods are disposed of following the procedure otherwise goods are handed over back to the party.


What is the procedure of disposal of goods?

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

Step 2 - A Magistrate will then,

  1. certify the correctness of the inventory so prepared

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

  3. 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 disposal.

Step 6 - Foodstuff with a value of less than 5 lakh rupees is disposed of through the National Consumer Corporation of India.
Step 7 - Metal objects are auctioned through MSTC Ltd. 

Step 8 - Gold objects are auctioned through the 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 Customs, you receive a notice about the same from the customs office. If your goods were for personal use and not for commercial use, inform about it to the customs office while replying to the notice. The customs office after considering your case and whether you have complied with the terms and conditions of importing such goods will allow you to clear it. 


These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer
These articles are provided freely as general guides. While we do our best to make sure these guides are helpful, we do not give any guarantee that they are accurate or appropriate to your situation, or take any responsibility for any loss their use might cause you. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking experienced legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.

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User Reviews

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please share custom charges for importing goods

Kapil on May 24, 2023

nice article. Please share the procedure to clear goods from customs

Sapna on May 07, 2023

I have lost documents of goods what to do?

Rajkumar on May 04, 2023

goods ceized by custom authority what to do

Swapna on Apr 27, 2023

good one please share export procedure

Tushar on Apr 22, 2023

great legal advice

Sandhya on May 11, 2023

great content. Thanks.

Anshu on Apr 14, 2023

thanks for the information

Gaurav on May 17, 2023

Good work with the article.

Ahmed on May 23, 2023

good legal subject

Rashi on Apr 26, 2023

good work

Sahil on May 21, 2023

very informative.

Kuldeep on May 12, 2023

needed legal advice…who to call

Santosh on Apr 30, 2023

thanks for the legal advice

Kavita on May 14, 2023

very good article. Please provide more information on the subject

Vani on May 03, 2023

nice work with the article.

Simran on May 05, 2023

thanks for the information

Prashant on May 21, 2023

needed a lawyer….what is the procedure?

Anuradha on Apr 30, 2023

Understood the subject with clarity.

Rashmi on Apr 28, 2023

helpful in understanding the law

Jitender on May 03, 2023

Tells all the legalities about the subject. Good work.

Prabhakar on Apr 19, 2023

nice work. Learned a lot. Thanks

Ashish on Apr 21, 2023

who can I contact for my legal case?

Anoop on May 20, 2023

Very good work with the article. Gave a nice clarity about the subject.

Neelam on Apr 15, 2023