How to import, explaining step by step


Import License process required in importing country


If you need to import goods or services, a onetime registration procedure is being completed in most of the countries.  Such import export license may be obtained from concerned government department of the importing country if required.


Usually, for import of goods, three categories of procedures are required.  One-time registration procedures to act as an Importer in importing Country, Specific import license to import goods if applicable, and certain certification from concerned government agencies of importing country related to each import wherever applicable. The certification from certain agencies of governmental and nongovernmental of exporting country may be obtained by exporter if applicable.

There is separate government agency that handles and regulates such specific products that issue import license or import permit.  However, specific licence to import goods is required only for certain specific goods restricted.  Based on trade policy of each country, categories of products classified under freely importable, restricted to import.  Prohibited list of goods are not permitted to import in to the country.  The list of restricted goods to import and prohibited list of goods are notified time to time by government of such importing country which may be referred the official website of respective department of importing country.


Import licence or Import permit to import certain products

Import Licence or import permit has to be obtained from importing country’s government for importation of certain commodities to Importing country.  There are separate Importing country government agencies to issue such import permit or import license. 

Prohibited goods notified by importing country are not allowed to import, hence no permit or license is granted to import such goods to Importing country.


Import by courier

Goods can be imported by courier.  However, there is limit of amount or quantity prescribed by importing country’s Government time to time.  If value or quantity is more than the prescribed limit, necessary procedures have to be completed in importing country to customs clear the imported goods by courier.


Import of personal effects to Importing country

The goods for personal use can be imported as per rules and regulations of importing country’s Government amending time to time.   The import duty is fixed based on the nature of consignment, imposed by importing country Customs department modified time to time. 


Import Customs procedures in Importing country


The information provided here details on how to import goods to Importing country especially import customs clearance procedures in importing country.

As we have discussed above, import of goods to Importing country requires three categories of procedures wherever required.  One-time registration procedures to act as an Importer in Importing country, specific import license to import goods to Importing country if applicable, and certain certification from concerned government agencies of Importing country related to each import wherever applicable.

Now let us discuss about the process of import customs clearance procedures in importing country.

Once after arrival of import cargo at sea port or airport of Importing country, such goods are unloaded by carrier at Importing country’s customs bonded area.   Necessary customs import process has to be completed to take delivery out of customs area of importing country. 


There are mainly three categories of permissions required to take import clearance cargo delivery from importing country’s customs bonded area.  They are Permission from Importing country’s Customs authorities, Permission from Carrier of goods and permission from custodian of cargo handling at particular import customs port in Importing country.


How to get permission from Importing country’s customs to take import delivery of cargo arrived?


Either you (importer) or your customs broker can file the necessary documents for Import customs clearance procedures in importing country.  The carrier of imported goods in importing country files IGMS (Import General Manifest) with importing country’s destination port customs authorities.   Before arrival of your goods, you can keep ready of all pertaining documents required for import clearance. The major documents required to import customs clear in importing country are 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.

You need to track the import shipment of arrival in importing country port properly as you need to customs clear the cargo as early as possible on arrival of shipment. Otherwise, you may be imposed demurrage by import handling authorities. Normally, a limited number of days of one, two or three are allowed by import handling authorities as free of cost time duration to take import delivery. You can complete Importing country’s customs formalities within this time normally, subjected to produce of all required documents with customs.   If you are unable to customs clear the imported shipment in Importing country’s port within the prescribed free days on arrival, you may have to pay storage charges to custodian of cargo at such Chinese port of arrival of imported cargo.  Apart from storage charges by handling custodian of imported goods, you may have to pay charges to customs authorities of Importing country also if applicable.


 The customs entry filing is being done either by a customs broker or consignee against import shipment to be cleared out of Customs.  The import entry information is filed based on the requirements of importing country customs updating time to time.


Once the cargo arrives in Importing country’s port, carrier of goods files Import General Manifest (IGM) with  customs department. IGM is the details of 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 consignments carries ‘line numbers’. So, each shipment carries a ‘line number’ and the total load of the said vessel or aircraft has an IGM number. Here, you will have one IGM number (common for one lot of goods arrived) and a ‘liner number’ for your particular shipment.


You need to enter IGM number in the specified column of import entry form electronically as specified by Customs authorities. This number will be automatically linked with your document while filing uploading the import bill of entry details with customs web software. The Bill of Entry number is generated at one place for all over the ports of country as per software queue automatically. If your goods are under green channel clearance, you can directly take delivery of cargo with simple procedures at country port.  Certain category of imported goods can be customs cleared freely from customs authorities. 


The inspection if required is carried out under the supervision of necessary Importing country’s customs officials and enters examination report in the system for the imported shipments wherever applicable.   Necessary other import customs clearance is completed with customs authorities.  Final permission to move import cargo out of customs bonded area is allowed, once the Importing country’s customs satisfies with their rules and regulations.


How does carrier of goods release import cargo arrived in Importing country?


Once after arrival of goods in Importing country Customs port, delivery order has to be obtained from carrier of goods at import customs location of importing country.  This is applicable for both Sea import clearance and air import clearance.  The import Delivery Order is nothing but a permission from Carrier of goods to take delivery of import cargo.  The carrier checks whether any due amount payable to them under the said import shipment arrived.  If freight payable at destination, necessary air freight/ sea freight is collected from consignee before releasing Delivery Order by carrier.  If freight already paid at load port, Delivery order is issued by carrier at destination port of Importing country by collecting nominal destination service charges. 


When does custodian of cargo release import cargo to consignee in Importing country?


Custodian of cargo keeps custody of cargo at import customs location.  The custodian of cargo could be a government authority or private party who follows the norms of Importing countr’s government related to imports.  The custodian of cargo is responsible to safeguard the imported cargo arrived in Importing country destination customs location by handling properly. 


Once after completion of import customs clearance procedures at destination port in Importing country and collected Delivery Order from carrier of imported goods, the custodian releases imported shipment to consignee after collecting their charges if any.  The necessary proof for completion of import customs clearance procedures and delivery order permission from carrier has to be submitted with custodian of cargo to release import cargo to consignee.



Import documents required in Importing country


The documents required  in importing country to take delivery of imported cargo is based on the product importing, multilateral trade agreements, bilateral or unilateral trade agreements, and other trade policies of Importing country government.  The import documents required in Importing country also depends up on the nature of goods importing (General goods, Personal effects, Dangerous goods, Livestock etc.) ,regular trade policy of Importing country Government,  specific goods importing to Importing country (Arms and ammunition, health products, food products, chemicals etc.)


However, the following documents required to import goods to Importing country in general:


Import Customs clearance documents required in Importing country


Customs Entry document: (specified by Importing country customs) prepared by importer’s customs broker or Importer

Customs bond if applicable for specific goods importing to Importing country or to claim import benefits from Importing country government

Legal Undertaking (LUT) if applicable to claim import benefits from Importing country government or to import specific products

Customs declarations wherever applicable:  Importing country import customs clearance declarations as per specified format of importing country’s government.

Import License if applicable to be obtained from government agency of Importing country.

Purchase order or Letter of Credit between Importing country importer and overseas supplier of goods.

Commercial Invoice cum packing list issued by seller of goods

Certificate of Origin issued by competent authority of origin country of goods.

Insurance Certificate issued by the government authorized insurance service provider

Certificates of Inspection if applicable:  Some of the importers demands exporter (seller) through LC or Purchase order to inspect export goods to Importing country by an internationally recognized inspection agency like SGS, BVQI, or other Quality inspecting agency. etc.

ATA CARNET/Temporary shipment certificate if applicable

Certificate of Analysis if applicable.  The buyer may insist the seller to enclose certificate of analysis about the goods.  The same certificate helps Importing country customs authorities to confirm the product imported to Importing country.

Certificate of Free Sale if applicable.  If goods are not commercially involved, a certificate of sale is attached by exporter along with goods dispatched.

Weight Certificate if applicable.   Weight certificate issued by exporter is required at various circumstances like satiability of flight, satiability of vessel, International road safety rules, import or export duty calculation, claiming export/import benefits from government etc.

Consular Invoice if applicable:  Some of the importing countries insists embassy attested documents which is mandatory at importing country to customs clear goods.


Documents required for customs in Importing country for specific products

Electronic Export Information if applicable

Certificate of Health or Sanitation if applicable

Generic Certificate of Origin if applicable

Dangerous Goods Certificate if applicable

Fisheries Certificate if applicable

Fumigation Certificate if applicable

Halal Certificate if applicable

Health Certificate if applicable

Ingredients Certificate if applicable

Inspection Certificate if applicable

Pre-Shipment Inspection certificate if applicable

Phytosanitary Certificate/quarantine certificate if applicable

Radiation Certificate if applicable

Dock Receipt and Warehouse Receipt if applicable

ISPM 15 (Wood Packaging) Marking certificate if applicable

Product manual or Product catalogue if applicable

Certified Engineer's Report if applicable

Chartered engineer’s certificate if applicable

Product specification certificate

Other specified documents if applicable


Bank Import documents in Importing country

Purchase order or Letter of Credit

Commercial Invoice cum packing list

Pro forma Invoice

Bill of exchange

Certificate of Origin

Insurance Certificate

Certificates of Inspection if applicable

Electronic Export Information if applicable

Certificate of Health or Sanitation if applicable

Other specified documents if applicable


This post explains about step by step import procedures in general in all countries.  If you would like to add more information on the flow process of import or procedures to import goods at your location, share below your comments:


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Mathy: This is really very useful article.. Thanks a lot for taking ur time in writing this post.

dRubixCage: what documents are required to import by an individual

Jahangir: What is the procedure to import fitness equipment like Treadmill and strength training machine for setting a gym for commercial use from China to Hyderabad , and also like to know what all charges do I need to pay

JAI UGHAREJIA: We are doing business in import items from all over the world , I need to guide line and hire some to guide as

David Elangovan: Sir,I want to import chocolates from Russia.Could you please guide me. With many thanks David

Ashok Chourasia: My friend from Indonesia wants to export spices to India, can he do as per Indian lules, howhe search buyers in India, what procedures and documentation to be fulfilled by importer in India


Tau mofokeng: Can you pleas send me the step by step to importing

Murtaza Hashim Merchant: I would like to import pvdf resin from China by sea.

Mubeen: Hi.. I want to send car from Saudi to India . Please guide on process

Jo Savio: I would like to know procedures and documents specifically related to import of new (packaging) machinery from Italy to India

rajesh suseelan: Hi, Would like to import Orchid plants from Thailand to Kerala for trading purpose on regular basis. Please give guidance for import and clearance as well as the local licence requirements if applicable. Thanks in advance

Abhiram: I would like to import graphics card from Taiwan please guide me

Ankush Kanojia: Hello sir, I come here for help can please help me I want to import essential oils Canada to India. Can please tell me how I can do this.

karthik N: We are newly starting importing business. Please revert back how we can to move forward.


David Robin SIngh: We planning to import machine and machine accessories from Germany . we have already checked with our suppliers about the machine and currently in negotiations on the price. if the deal is confirmed we will be ordering the machine. We are looking for the shipment company who can get the items and pack it and send to our country. our supplier can deliver the items to your place. This is the first time we are importing from Germany and in future we will order lots of items. Sometimes the items will be around 30- 40 Kg and sometimes the machine will be around 6tonnes. Please let me know what will be cost for the shipping, packing and delivery.

Qaiser: This information is great.

B.SHIVA KUMAR: Sir, I intend to procure electronic goods from Taiwan. Is there is any liaison officer for establishing a working relationship people, organizations or agency in this regard.

VASUDEVA: hi please share step by step process of how to import battery from Hong KONG

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