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Complete Check List of Registrations/ Licenses Required to Start Import/Export Business in India

If anyone wish to start import-export business in India and wish to know about which types of registrations are required to start business in India. In that case, this article will give you clear understanding which types of registrations are required, what will be the benefits of registrations, competent authority to grant registrations and other similar important aspects.

1) Company registration certificate from Ministry of Corporate Affairs (‘MCA’)

In case an exporter/ importer wants to start an EXIM business in the form of a Company/ Body Corporate, then it is required to take registration under Companies Act 2013. He can start Private Company/ Public Company/ One person Company depending upon his requirement. In this case, certificate will be issued by Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

However, it is not mandatory to form a Company to start an Import-Export Business. Import export business can be started from either of the following options:

Sr. No.

Particulars Remarks
1. Sole Proprietorship In this case, it is not required to get registered under any law. It is the easiest form of business done in India since it is not governed by any specific law.
2. Partnership In this case, it is not mandatory to take registration as per Partnership Act. However, it is highly recommended to get it registered. Certificate of Registration will be issued by the Registrar of Firms.
3. Limited Liability Partnership In this case, it is required to take registration under Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008. Certificate of Registration will be issued by the Registrar of Limited Liability Partnerships.
4. Hindu Undivided Family Once HUF is formed it must be formally registered in its name. A HUF should have a legal deed. The deed shall contain details of HUF members and the business of the HUF.
5. Cooperative Society

It is compulsory for the co-operative society to get registration under Cooperative Societies Act, 1912. Certificate of Registration will be issued by from Registrar of Co-operative Society

2) PAN card from Income Tax Department

PAN (Permanent Account Number) is an identification number assigned to all taxpayers in India by Income Tax Department, Government of India. PAN card will be required for other multiple mandatory registrations like Goods and Service Tax, Import Export Code etc.

3) Current Account with Authorized Dealer code from Bank

An AD Code is a 14-digit numerical code which is essential to obtain from bank with which you have current account. A bank must be an authorized dealer of foreign currency in order to issue an AD code. Apart from this, Exporters must register their AD Code with every port or airport from where they intend to ship their goods abroad.

An AD Code is essential due to following reasons:

√ It is essential for customs clearance.

√ An AD Code registration with the customs enables an exporter to get the export benefits directly credited into current account of bank.

4) GST Registration certificate from Goods and Services Tax Department

Every importer/ exporter is required to get registration under Goods and Services Tax law to obtain GST Registration certificate. GST Number is required to be mentioned mandatory on all import/export documents.

Export of goods or services or both are considered as “zero-rated supplies”. In other words, GST will not be applicable on export of goods and services.

Benefit in case of Export of Goods and Services

Benefit in case of Import of Goods and Services
Option 1 Option 2 Option 1 Option 2
Bond or letter of undertaking (LUT) Refund Application Input Tax Credit Refund of Input Tax Credit
In this case, registered person has to file an LUT annually on the GST portal. After filing of LUT, he can export goods/ services without GST. In this case, it is not required to charge/ collect GST from the customer. However, it is required to deposit GST to the government from own pocket. A registered person can take ITC of goods and services purchased from outside India. If registered person is not able to utilize/ set off ITC from output GST liability at the time of domestic sale of goods/ services as mentioned in option 1
After that, it is neither required to charge/ collect GST from the customer nor required to deposit GST to the government. It is preferable and convenient mode to take GST benefit. After that, registered person has to file refund application on the GST portal to claim back GST paid at the time of export of goods/ services. In this case, a registered person can utilize/ setoff ITC from output GST liability at the time of domestic sale of goods/ services. , he can claim refund of ITC by filing refund application on the GST portal.

5) Import Export Code from Directorate General of Foreign Trade

In India, Import Export Code registration is required for import and export of products and services. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issues a 10-digit unique code to the individual once the IEC registration procedure is completed.


√ Advantages of Government Scheme -Export-oriented incentives shall only be granted based on the furnishing of the IEC code.

  • The duty drawbacks
  • Refund of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (‘RODTEP’)
  • Rebate of State and Central Levies and Taxes(‘ROSCTL’)
  • Service Exports from India Scheme
  • Refund of IGST paid in India while doing the manufacturing of the goods to be exported.

√ Business expansion: Import Export Code will help in expanding business and reaching out to a larger market on a global scale, thereby helping business to grow by leaps and bounds.

√ No requirement for renewal: The validity of an Import Export Code lasts until the entity exists. As such, those who hold this code will not have to ever worry about renewing it.

6) Registration Cum Membership Certificate (‘RCMC’) from Export promotion councils (‘EPC’)

RCMC is a membership certificate issued for 5 years by EPC. RCMC is a certificate that validates an exporter dealing with products registered with an agency/ organization that are authorized by the Indian Government. When applying for RCMC, an exporter has to declare the mainstream business.

There are 27 export promotion councils in India. Each of the Export promotion Councils in India categories itself according to the type of products. An exporter shall apply to the EPC/Commodity Board according to his main line of business to obtain RCMC. Each EPC provides several benefits to the exporters under Market Access Initiative (‘MAI’) Scheme.

For Example – Some of the advantages of RCMC of Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts under MAI Scheme are mentioned below:

1. Reimbursement of airfare for international events subject to ceiling limit

2. Financial assistance in participating in fairs/ exhibitions abroad

3. Participation in buyer and seller meet

4. Opening of showrooms, warehouses and marketing offices abroad

5. Capacity building of exporters

6. Guidance of Statutory compliances in the buyer country

        List of Export promotion Boards are mentioned in Annexure A.

7) RCMC from Commodity Boards

The Government of India has set up Commodity Board as a separate organization to promote the export of commodities. The Government of India has established commodity Boards to guide production and export of commodities in their jurisdiction:

The functions and objectives of Commodity Boards are given below:

Undertaking promotional activities such as participation in exhibition and trade fairs, conducting marketing surveys, sponsoring trade delegations, etc.

Promoting the consumption of commodities by opening branch offices in foreign countries.

Resolving all problems relating to commodities

Undertaking research activities to develop production and marketing activities within the country.

List of Export promotion Boards are mentioned in Annexure B.

8) Registration on Customs Portal -Indian Customs Electronic Gateway (‘ICEGATE’)

ICEGATE is the national portal of Indian Customs of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) that provides e-filing services to the Trade, Cargo Carriers and other Trading Partners electronically. ICEGATE ID or registration is mandatory for filling online Shipping Bills and Bill of Entries and other documents.

Benefits of ICEGATE are mentioned below:

The portal facilitates e-filing of export and import declarations

Allows customs to reply to importers and exporters after Bills of Entry and Shipping bills are assessed.

Helps importers and exporters to view and track their online document’s status.

The portal comes in handy to raise a query and receive prompt replies.

Annexure A


1 Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority APEDA
2 Apparel Export Promotion Council AEPC
3 Basic Chemicals, Cosmetics and Dyes Export Promotion Council CHEMEXCIL
4 Carpet Export Promotion Council CEPC
5 Cashew Export Promotion Council of India CEPCI
6 Chemicals and Allied Products Export Promotion Council CAPEXIL
7 Council for Leather Exports CLE
9 Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts EPCH
10 Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council GJEPC
11 Handloom Export Promotion Council HEPC
12 Indian Oil Seeds and Produce Export Promotion Council IOPEPC
13 Indian Silk Export Promotion Council ISEPC
14 Jute Products Development & Export Promotion Council JPDEPC
15 Marine Products Export Development Authority MPEDA
16 Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council PHARMEXCIL
17 Power loom Development & Export Promotion council PDEXCIL
18 Project Exports Promotion Council of India PEPC
19 Services Export Promotion Council SEPC
20 Shellac and Forest Products Export Promotion Council SHEFEXIL
21 Sports Goods Export Promotion Council SGEPC
22 The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council TEXPROCIL
23 The Plastics Export Promotion Council PLEXCONCIL
24 The Synthetic and Rayon Export Promotion Council SRTEPC
25 Wool and Woolens Export Promotion Council WWEPC
26 Handicrafts Business Promotion TOOFANI
27 Wool Industry Export Promotion Council Wooltexpro

Annexure B

Sr. No. Export Promotion Boards
1. Coffee Board
2. Tea Board
3. Cardamon Board
4. Rubber Board
5. Coir Board
6. Central Silk Board
7. Tobacco
8. Spices
9. Coconut Development
10. The All India Handicrafts Board
11. The All India Handloom Board.

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Author Bio

-Chartered Accountant with more than 11 years of work experience in the role of Indirect Taxation -Certificate course of MDP from IIM (Raipur), GST from ICAI and Export-Import Management from IIFT -Currently working in Rockwell Automation (Fortune 500), previously worked in and KPMG -S View Full Profile

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    Strict vigilance for checking registrations and licenses for export-import business companies existing in India must.

  2. Hareesh Alugu says:

    Hello sir,
    Your article was really helpful as I am starting Imports and exports business. I have some questions related to obtaining licence for specific goods to exports. Can yoy please let me how to reach you.

    1. vipin mittal says:

      Thanks for the appreciation. Its a hard work of 4 months. In case you need any help, please feel free to contact me.

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May 2024