Imports and Customs Clearance - Overview

When any Organization Imports any item into the country, the cargo would need to be Custom Cleared. The consignment transported by Air, Ship or by Trailer on the Road, would have to be deposited at the Customs Notified and Bonded Area.

Customs Clearance or brokering is done by third party service providers who are licensed by Customs for the said purpose. They represent the Importer and co-ordinate with Customs Department as well as other specific departments to Custom Clear the cargo.

There are list of several items that cannot be imported into the countries freely and would require specific License. Alcoholic Beverages, Animals and Animal products, Fire Arms and Ammunitions, Meat and Meat products, Milk, Diary and Cheese products, Plants and Plant products, Poultry and Poultry Products, Petroleum and Petroleum products etc would have to be imported under the License issued by various agencies and such imports would have to be in compliance with the rules and conditions laid down by respective agencies.

There are several other items such as art materials, artifacts and antiques, cultural property, hazardous and toxic materials, internationally banned products like ivory etc are usually prohibited for imports into the Country.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Animal and Plant Inspection Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Food and Drug Administration are few of the agencies that exist in most of the countries which regulate and oversee imports of the specific items covered under their schedule.

When the Cargo lands at the Customs Bonded W/house, along with Customs Clearance, the licensed items would need to be inspected and approved for clearance by these specific agencies too. Customs brokers carry out the necessary process of submitting documentation, facilitate sampling and inspection and follow up to obtain approvals.

All cargo being imported as well as export from a country would have to be deposited at Customs Bonded warehouse to complete export and import formalities and receive Customs approval to hand over the cargo to the freight forwarder in case of Export and to the Importer incase of Imports. The customs bonded warehouse is a customs notified area and the cargo while in bonded warehouse is under the Customs Charge.

Normally bonded warehouses are available and operated by Customs Departments at the Airports and Seaports. In case of larger airports and Shipping yards, the Government set up a separate corporation or agency to setup and operates such bonded warehouse.

In many cases Governments do give licenses to the Customs Clearing Agents to setup bonded warehouses for exports wherein the cargo can be offloaded by the exporter, customs formalities completed and after customs approval the cargo can be stuffed into the Shipping container.

Generally if the export cargo is of smaller lots, the clearing agents move the cargo to these bonded warehouses. If the export is of one full container volume, then the cargo is stuffed into the container at the exporter’s premise itself and the container is deposited at the shipping yard in the customs bonded warehouse or designated area waiting for export clearance.

An imported consignment can be imported and warehoused in Customs bonded warehouse for certain period of time in bond. This gives the flexibility to the importer to custom clear the consignment in parts when required for consumption and pay customs duty only for the consignment that is being de bonded. They can further sell the materials to third party while in bond and it would be considered as high sea sale.

Until the importer files bill of entry for home consumption and pays customs duty to take delivery of the consignment, the import consignment technically is not considered to be imported and owned by the importer.

Customs bonded warehouses charge normal warehousing rental and other transaction charges for the goods warehoused. Additionally beyond a certain free period ascertained by Customs in advance, the importer may be charge a certain interest on the customs duty payable on the said import, depending upon case to case basis.

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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to and the content page url.