Customs clearance goes paperless, contactless to speed up essentials import

Topics Coronavirus | Customs | Lockdown

The Customs department will clear imports on the basis of an undertaking (not bond) and acceptance of electronic country of origin certificate
In order to expedite imports of essential items amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the government has decided to introduce paperless Customs clearance and online submission of documents starting Wednesday.

Among a slew of measures aimed at cutting time and cost of compliance, the Customs department will clear imports on the basis of an undertaking (not bond) and acceptance of electronic country of origin certificate.

Expedited clearance of raw materials will facilitate the production of essential items like pharmaceuticals in the country.

“In order to mitigate the unprecedented situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has taken a number of measures to facilitate and expedite the Customs clearance process, making it more and more contactless, i.e., automated and online as well as paperless,” the CBIC said in a circular.

Besides, the CBIC will enable electronic communication of portable document format (PDF)-based final electronic out of charge copy (eOoC) of the bill of entry (BoE) and an eGatePass to importers/Customs brokers.

These steps complement the earlier reforms unrolled as part of the Turant Customs, such as online query module, eSanchit, and web-based goods registration, electronic processing of Directorate General of Foreign Trade-issued licences, machine release of imported goods based on the Customs compliance verification, and electronic transmission of PDF-based first copy of BoE to Customs brokers and registered importers, said the CBIC.

The electronic communication will also do away with the requirement of taking bulky printouts from the service centre or maintenance of voluminous physical dockets in the Customs houses.

The eGatePass copy will be used by the gate officer or the custodian to allow physical exit of imported goods from the Customs area.

The CBIC said that the electronic communication of the final eOoC copy of BoE and eGatePass copy will provide enhanced security features.

The systems will immediately email the PDF version of the documents. The PDF version will be digitally signed and have encrypted quick response codes that can be scanned to verify the authenticity of documents using the mobile app ICETRAK, said the circular.

Last month, the government announced 24x7 Customs clearance of goods till June 30.

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