How to Transport Goods through Customs

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Types of Procedures

(a) Procedure to be followed by a ‘person-in-charge of conveyance’

(b) Procedure to be followed by an exporter The procedures are similar to procedures to be followed by an importer, of course, in reverse direction.

Procedure to be followed by a ‘person-in-charge of conveyance’

Any new airline, shipping line, steamer agent should be registered in Customs Systems for electronic processing of shipping bills etc. The ‘person in charge of conveyance’ has to follow prescribed procedures.


  • Entry Outward - The vessel should be granted ‘Entry Outward’. Loading can start only after entry outward is granted (Section 39 of Customs Act). Steamer Agents can file ‘application for entry outwards’ 14 days in advance so that intending exporters can start submitting ‘Shipping Bills’. This ensures that formalities are completed as quickly as possible and loading in ship starts quickly.
  • Loading with permission - Export goods can be loaded only after Shipping Bill or Bill of Export, duly passed by Customs Officer is handed over by Exporter to the person-in-charge of conveyance. In case of baggage and mail bags, shipping bill is not necessary, but permission of Customs Officer is required (section 40).
  • Export Manifest - As per section 41, an Export Manifest/Export Report in prescribed form should be submitted before departure. [The report is popularly called as ‘Export General Manifest’ - EGM]. The details required are similar to import manifest. Such manifest/report can be amended or supplemented with permission, if there was no fraudulent intention. Such report should be declared as true by the person-in charge signing the export manifest. This report is not required if the conveyance is carrying only luggage of occupants.

Procedures to be followed by Exporter

>>Export procedures have been summarised in Chapter 3 Part II of CBE & C’s Customs Manual, 2001.Every exporter should take following initial steps:

  • Obtain BIN (Business Identification Number) from DGFT. It is a PAN-based number.
  • Open current account with designated bank for credit of duty drawback claims.
  • Register licenses / advance license / DEPB etc. at customs station, if exports are under Export Promotion Schemes ​

>>Exporter has to submit ‘shipping bill’ for export by sea or air and ‘bill of export’ for export by road. Goods have to be assessed for duty, even if no duty is payable for most of exports, as ‘Nil Duty’ assessment is also an assessment.


>>Shipping Bill to be submitted by an exporter. It should be submitted in quadruplicate. If drawback claim is to be made, one additional copy should be submitted. There are five forms:

  • Shipping Bill for export of goods under claim for duty drawback - these should be in Green colour
  • Shipping Bill for export of dutiable goods - this should be in yellow colour
  • Shipping bill for export of duty-free goods - it should be in white colour
  • Shipping bill for export of duty-free goods ex-bond - i.e. from bonded store room - it should be in pink colour
  • Shipping Bill for export under DEPB (Duty Entitlement Pass Book) scheme – it should be in blue colour

>>The shipping bill form requires details such as name of exporter, consignee, invoice number, details of packing, description of goods, quantity, FOB value etc. Appropriate form of shipping bill should be used.


>>Relevant documents i.e. copies of packing list, invoices, export contract, letter of credit etc. are also to be submitted. In case of excisable goods, form ARE-1 that is prepared at the time of clearance from factory should also be submitted 


>>Customs authorities give serial number (called 'Thoka Number') to shipping bill, when it is presented


>>Duty drawback formalities - If the exporter intends to claim duty drawback on his exports, he has to follow prescribed procedures and submit necessary papers


>>Other documents required for export –

  • Four copies of Commercial Invoice
  • Four copies of Packing List
  • Certificate of Origin or pre-shipment inspection where required
  • Insurance policy
  • Letter-of-Credit
  • Declaration of Value
  • Excise ARE-2841/ARE-2 form as applicable
  • GR/SDF form prescribed by RBI in duplicate
  • Letter showing BIN Number.

>>RCMC certificate from Export Promotion Council - Various Export Promotion Councils have been set up to promote and develop exports. (e.g. Engineering Export Promotion Council, Apparel Export Promotion Council, etc.) Exporter has to become a member of the concerned Export Promotion Council and obtain RCMC – Registration-cum-Membership Certificate.


>>Check in customs- Document submitted is processed by customs authorities and following are checked:​

  • Value and classification of goods under drawback schedule in case of drawback shipping bills
  • Export duty / cess if applicable
  • Advance License shipping bills are checked to ensure that description in invoice and final product specified in advance license matches. If necessary, samples may be drawn and assessment may be done after visual inspection or testing
  • Exportability of goods under EXIM policy and other laws - Some exports are totally prohibited under various Acts e.g. items restricted or prohibited under Foreign Trade (Regulation) Act; antiques; art treasures; Arms; narcotics etc. Some items such as tea, coffee and coir products can be exported only against authorisation/licence under respective acts.

Examination of goods before export

After shipping bill is passed by the Export department, the goods are presented to shed appraiser (exports) in dock for examination. Goods will be examined by an examiner. This inspection is necessary for:

(a) to ensure that prohibited goods are not exported

(b) goods tally with description and invoice

(c) duty drawback, where applicable, is correctly claimed

Customs Officer will verify the contents and after he is satisfied those goods are not prohibited for exports and that export duty, if applicable is paid, will permit clearance (Section 51) by giving ‘let ship’ or ‘let export’ order.

GR-1, ARE-1, Octroi papers, quota certification for export etc. are also signed.

Exporter’s copy of shipping Bill, GR-1, and ARE-1 etc. duly certified are handed over to an exporter or CHA. Drawback claims papers are also processed.

Conveyance to leave on written order:

The vessel or aircraft which has brought imported goods or which carry export goods cannot leave that customs station unless a written order is given by a Customs Officer. Such order is given only after:

(a) export manifest is submitted

(b) Shipping bills or bills of export, bills of transhipment etc. are submitted

(c) Duties on stores consumed are paid or payment of the same is secured

(d) No penalty is levied

(e) Export duty, if applicable, is paid 

Such permission is not required if the conveyance is carrying only luggage of occupants
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