Import and Export Through Courier

Customs is responsible for working with Postal authorities to clear selected goods that come in the form of postal parcels, etc. after conducting proper checks. Customs makes sure that these postal items comply with the regulations outlined in the Customs Act, 1962. If the value of goods in the postal package exceeds the limit for free gifts or free samples, Customs assesses duties on the item and informs the Postal authorities. The duties must be paid before the Postal authorities deliver the package to the recipient.

The import and export of goods through couriers are regulated by the Courier Imports and Exports (Clearance) Regulations, 1998 and the Courier Imports and Exports (Electronic Declaration and Processing) Regulations, 2010. These regulations streamline the customs clearance process for such goods, ensuring quick delivery to the recipient after payment of any necessary duties. In certain locations, dedicated courier terminals staffed by Customs officers, similar to air cargo complexes, have been established to handle courier shipments.

Samples, Gifts and Trade Goods can be set by Courier

  1. Documents, messages, information, and data recorded on papers, cards, and photographs that are not restricted or prohibited can be imported and exported.
  • Free commercial samples can be imported via courier, and gifts worth up to INR 5,000 and life-saving drugs and equipment, which are currently duty-free (as per Notification 20/99-Cus), can also be sent to India via courier.
  • Dutiable commercial goods can be imported via courier without any quantity restrictions, provided that the courier company pays the relevant duties at the time of customs clearance.

Whether the value of Rs. 5,000/- for the gift or the commercial samples means the value of the goods in India or the country of sender?

The export value of goods worth up to INR 5,000 does not include locally refundable taxes like VAT in the country of origin, but only excludes such taxes. This value applies to gifts and samples, but not to freight, courier charges, or insurance. If the value of the goods exceeds INR 5,000, these additional costs will be included in the calculation of the duty payable. The sender can reside in a different country from the country of origin and can send goods from one location to another. For example, a sender in the UK can send goods from South Korea to India, and the value of the goods in South Korea will be considered.

Are there any Prohibited Goods

Q. What goods cannot be sent as gifts or commercial samples through courier?

A. Any goods that are banned for import under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 are prohibited from being imported into India, including as gifts or commercial samples. Examples of such goods include wild animals and birds, narcotic drugs such as opium and marijuana, ivory, firearms, and ammunition.

Q. How can magazines or books containing a map of India be sent?

A. Ordinary senders may not know if the maps in magazines or books correctly show the boundary of India. To ensure safety, it is recommended to stamp or write across the map(s) that the boundary of India may not be correctly depicted.

Q. Can someone send jewellery to a manufacturer in India as a sample?

A. Ordinary individuals are not allowed to import gold jewellery or studded jewellery, including samples, through the courier route. However, units in export processing zones or Export Oriented Units can import gems and jewellery, including samples, through an authorized courier. All units can export jewellery and samples through couriers.

Why the prohibition on Perishables and Chemicals

Q. Why is there a ban on importing chemicals and perishable goods, even of low value?

A. Handling perishable goods through the regular courier process is not practical. The courier import and export system is designed for fast movement through customs. Importing chemicals may require testing to verify their identity, which would take time and slow down the processing of other courier consignments. As a result, importing chemicals through the courier route is prohibited.

Any Weight Limit on Courier

Q. What is the weight limit for packages sent through courier?

A. Packages up to 70 kg can be imported to India through courier, but there is no weight limit for exporting goods through courier from India.

Q. Why are there restrictions on goods exported with claims for Drawback or duty entitlement through the Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme?

A. These schemes require additional paperwork, which delays the clearance of the package and affects the clearance of other packages as well. However, these consignments can be cleared through the air cargo complex by the same courier company. The air cargo complex and the courier terminal are typically located next to each other, so there is no inconvenience to the exporter.

Method of Dispatch by Courier

Q. How can small-weight chemicals or chemical samples be sent to India?

A. Chemicals can be sent through the same courier company by submitting them separately at the Air Cargo Complex for clearance. The Air Cargo Complex is usually located near the courier terminal. However, the clearance process may take more time.

Q. How is the duty paid if it is leviable?

A. If the duty is low, the courier company pays it and collects it from the recipient upon delivery of the goods. If the assessed duty is high, the courier company informs the party of the arrival of the goods and the party clears them directly from customs. If necessary, the courier can have the goods detained, inform the client and with their consent, make the payment for the duty.

Q. What precautions should be taken when sending commercial samples by Courier?

A. When sending commercial samples, keep in mind that they are duty-free only up to Rs. 5000/- as per Q. 1. If you expect your recipient may not clear the goods on payment of duty, keep the value within the free limit. Also, attach tags or inscriptions on the goods indicating that they are samples, and include an invoice in the package that mentions that they are samples and gives the correct value.

Q. What is the procedure for exporting machinery parts for repairs and reconditioning through courier?

A. When sending the goods abroad, ensure that proper documents accompany the package. The invoice may be attested by customs and a copy retained to enable customs to identify the goods at the time of re-import. Advise the repairer to include a copy of the sender’s invoice along with their own invoice. The repairer should also clearly state their repair charges for similar goods in the invoice, even if they have done it for free. A list of jobs carried out (fault list) may also be provided with the invoice or on its body.

Q. What happens if a part or machinery that cannot be repaired is replaced?

A. During re-import, such machinery must bear duty as if it were being imported for the first time. The invoice should separately show the cost of such parts/raw materials to enable proper valuation.

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