Reduced free period for filing BE and paying Import Duty

Amendment of Section 46   and Section 47 of Indian Customs Act

The below information is about amendment of Section 46   and section 47 of Indian Customs Act related free time allotted to file Bill of Entry for import of goods to India.

A new notification has been issued by Customs authorities vide Notification No:12/2017 stating Clarifications have been requested regarding applicability of the new provisions vis-a-vis arrival of goods and filing of bill of entry.

Changes in Section 46 of the Customs Act

Reduced free period for filing BE and paying Import DutyNow Section 46   of Indian Customs Act is amended aiming at prescribing a late charge for delayed filing of Bill of Entry (BoE). As per the amended Section 46 the importer shall present the bill of entry under sub-section (1) of section 46 before the end of the next day following the day (excluding holidays) on which the aircraft or vessel or vehicle carrying the goods arrives at a customs station at which such goods are to be cleared for home consumption or for the free period for filing a BoE is up to the end of the next day following the day (excluding holidays) of arrival of goods at the place where the clearance for home consumption or warehousing is to take place.

This means, the amendment of Section 46 of Customs clarifies that the importer has to file bill of entry with customs authorities within a working day of its arrival of goods at destination customs location in India, failing which penal charges is imposed.  If any holidays are excluded to calculated arrival time at destination customs station from aircraft or vessel or vehicle carrying the goods.

As per new notification by changing Section 46   of Customs Act, the time of filing bill of entry is limited to the next day following the day on which the import cargo arrived.

In order to determine exact arrival time at ICD destination customs location where import goods are unloaded, the necessary amendment on handling cargo in custom area regulations 2009 has been passed under Notification No. 24/2017-Customs (N.T) dated 31.03.2017.

The government has far reached with the concept of ‘ease of doing businesses’   by liberalizing rules and regulations with the digital and communication technology.  The dwell time has been drastically minimized due to this.    National Civil Aviation Policy makers already recommended this suggestion in June, 2016 to minimize free time allowed at destination customs location.

As per Carrier of goods, it is not mandatory to inform or send Cargo Arrival Notice to Consignee, once cargo arrived at destination port.  If a logistic provider involved in documentation, Pre Alert documents are received by them and there is an option to communicate with final importer to remind for filing BE with customs to meet the deadline.    If any telecommunication error happens with consignee, he may not receive exact arrival details neither documents of import.

In many cases, buyer place order with exporter for one-year contract of supply.  As and when production completes and ready for export, exporter ships and send information to buyer on shipment.  Here, this notification indicates that once documents are ready for ship, importer in India must instruct exporter of overseas country to send immediately up on shipment, so as to enable importer in India to file BE in time, say within 24 hours of arrival of import cargo.

Amendment of Section 47 of Indian Customs Act related to payment of duty and interest on Imports

The existing provision is that a time period of two days is given to an importer to pay customs duty from the time of return of bill of entry. The implication of proposed amendment is that the importer shall have to make payment of duty on the same day in case of self-assessed BoE and in case of re-assessment or provisional assessment, within one day after the return of BoE. In this regard, it is further clarified that:

All BoEs filed before the enactment of Finance Bill, 2017 shall be governed by the provisions of section 47 as it stood immediately before the date of such enactment except where such BoE is re-assessed, provisional assessed on or after the said enactment, the importer shall have one day (excluding holidays) instead of two days for payment of duty. BoEs filed on the date of enactment or thereafter shall be subject to the new provisions.

At present when writing this post, each bill of entry is fined heavily for not filing BE within 24 hours of its arrival or the prescribed time above mentioned.    As per my personal opinion, the latest time of one day to file BE is not sufficient.  Instead of penalizing importers with higher amount, the customs/custodian authorities can impose a tariff rate of higher interest rate or minimum penal charges to pressurise the importers to move cargo out of customs bonded area for home consumption or warehousing.

As per the instruction from National Civil Aviation Ministry issued in June, 2016 (subjected to approval), free period for air cargo clearance for both imports and exports at all customs location has been reduced with effect from 1st April, 2017.   As per Civil Aviation Ministry,

a) For import cargo, free period is reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. (i.e. Two working days).  The computation of free time is accounted on the basis of segregation time reflected in ICEGATE
b) For export cargo, free period is reduced from 48 hours to 36 hours and free period for exporters is reduced from 24 hours to 12 hours.

Thus the total free period available for export cargo would be 48 hours (i.e., Two working days) .  Till such time Customs facilitation is available 24x7, the Free Period will not include holidays.

What is Section 47 of Indian Customs Act

What is Section 46 of Indian Customs Act

Amendment of Sec 46 and Sec 47 of Indian Customs Act

Reduction of free period for import air cargo clearance in India
Customs Notification No. 27 of 2017-Customs (N.T.) 31st March, 2017
Customs Notification Number 25 of 2017 dt 31st March, 2017
Handling of Cargo in Customs Areas (Amendment) Regulations, 2017, Notfn 24 of 2017 dt 31 March 2017

Notification 26 of 2017, Customs dt 31 March, 2017

The above details describe about amendment of Section 46 and section 47 of Indian Customs Act related to penal charges imposing on filing of Bill of Entry after 24 hours of arrival of goods (free time reduced as per amendment except holidays) at final destination customs location in India with effect from 1st April, 2017.


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BENNY: Sir, I am a new importer cum manufacturer. Though applied for GST with ARNAA320717028453B on 18.07.2017, I have not yet received the number. My cargo has arrived on 20.07.17. Authorities say, I will have pay fine, for the delay in clearance. Is it so? pl clarify. BENNY

jayachandran: Sir, I had purchased a basic model video camera costing app. Rs.6000/- through a website. The goods was sent through DHL from China. I i was not aware of any import procedures and my goods are lying at Bangalore customs for clearance. Pls guided me as to how to obtain my goods

Mr.zakaullah: exports and import

Sandeep Rathi: I have imported some computer parts their is no duty only Gst I have to pay . But I filed BE very late so I have to pay late fine for bill of entry then what was the amt if it late 115 days

Sahadeb Dinda: If my BE was filed in time but the BE Number not yet received the it will be pay panalty???

sanjay: We are importing nutrition supplements and need your guidance regarding this. One of our business competitor is importing same products under hsn 2106 and with some notification he is paying duty of 30.6 % inclusive of 18% gst. While we are paying 69.6 % for the same .Kindly guide us for the same.

haridas: Can you please guide me in following: 1. For a vessel of cargo, when the BE is to be generated? 2. How much time importer gets to pay customs duty without any fines, after BE generation. 3. Whether duty, without any fines, can be paid even after berthing of vessel and/or completion of discharge. Your reply on above shall be highly appreciated.

Hariharan K: Sir, I am an import business man. Pl inform Who will prepare/upload IDPMS.

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