By Bindi Shah
With the global turbulence underway, these may not be the best times to export to markets like the US and Europe. However, the reality remains that we are an export-oriented economy even now.
The US consumer may not be spending enough but you could always target the Asian consumer and still earn some dollars. Is it easy to get your export consignments cleared at customs? Not always. If you wish to understand the procedure and execute it on your own, here's how you can go about it:
Complete your registration formalities
As an exporter, you need to get yourself a Business Identification Number (BIN) from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) based on your PAN. Under the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system, the customs service center gets the BIN directly from the DGFT online. Every exporter also needs to register his/her authorized foreign exchange dealer code which will help the exporter to realize export proceeds. Further, if the exporter is eligible for any drawback incentives (drawback refers to duty drawback allowed by the government to promote exports), he should open a current account in the designated bank for credit of the drawback incentive. Also, every new airline, shipping line, steamer agent, port or airport that comes into being needs to be registered into the customs system. Non-registration of these could hold up the processing of your shipping bill.
File your shipping bill
A shipping bill is the most important document for an exporter. For manual filing of the shipping bill or the bill of export, you have to follow the format prescribed in the Shipping Bill and Bill of Export (form) regulations, 1991. There are different formats for exports of duty free goods, dutiable goods, and goods eligible for drawback. You need to give the original invoice, AR-4, packing list etc. with the shipping bill. For filing of the bill under EDI, declarations in the prescribed format are to be filed through a customs service center. The service center operator generates a checklist for verification of data by the exporter. Then, the data is submitted to the system and the system generates a shipping bill number, which is endorsed on the printed checklist and given to the exporter. No copy of the shipping bill is made available to the exporter at this point.
Get your goods to the docks and get the shipping bill cleared
Your goods need a 'let export' order from Customs before they can be loaded onto a ship. For this, the next step is to get the goods at the docks, get them examined by a shed appraiser and customs officer. Your goods will be allowed entry at the docks based on the checklist (EDI) or the shipping bill (non-EDI) copy that you have. Before physical examination of the goods, you have to get the shipping bill cleared. In the non-EDI system, the clearance would have happened at the previous stage before entry of goods. In case of EDI, system clearance of the bill has to happen now. This clearance involves checking of the value of the goods, classification under Drawback scheme, Duty Exemption Entitlement Scheme (DEEC), exportability of goods under EXIM policy etc.
Get your cargo examined
The exporter now has to contact the designated customs officer, who verifies the quantity of goods received and enters it into the system. The customs officer along with the dock/shed appraiser then examines the shipment and enters an examination report into the system. You have to present all original documents (invoice, packing list, AR-4 etc.) again at this point. If the officer is satisfied that the particulars entered into the system conform to the description given in the original documents and as seen in the physical examination, he may proceed to allow 'let export' for the shipment. Sometimes, the shed appraiser asks for withdrawal of samples for testing purpose. In such a case, a test memo is prepared in multiple copies and one is given to the exporter.
Settle all variations
If there is a variation between the declaration made in the shipping bill and the physical examination/examination report, the shed appraiser may mark the electronic shipping bill to the Assistant Commissioner/Deputy Commissioner of Customs for settlement of the dispute. The physical documents will also be forwarded to the concerned officer. The exporter has to then meet the Commissioner and share his views. He may agree/disagree with the views of the customs department. If there is a dispute, the principles of justice have to be applied before finalization of the issue.
Loading of goods in containers
Loading of both containerized and bulk cargo always happens at the docks under preventive supervision. The exporter has to hand over the signed copy of the shipping bill with the 'let export' order to the steamer agent, who in turn calls the appropriate preventive officer for supervision. If everything is on track, the preventive officer gives a 'shipped on board' endorsement on the exporter's copy of the shipping bill.
If there is a mismatch in the quantity, the shipping bill has to be amended for the same.
Filing of EGM
Finally, the shipping line has to furnish an Export General Manifest, (EGM) which is a statutory declaration to the customs department, shipping bill-wise, giving details of all goods that leave Indian territorial waters.