pri A critique on ‘Sea Cargo Manifest & Transhipment Regulations, 2018’ A critique on ‘Sea Cargo Manifest & Transhipment Regulations, 2018’

The Government of India Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Custom vide their notification No. 38/2018- Customs (N.T.) have announced Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment Regulations 2018, which were supposed to come into force on August 1, 2018.

Following a number of extensions and amendments, the Regulations are finally scheduled from 1st October 2020.

The new Regulations essentially replace previous regulations dealing with

  • The timing and procedures for the delivery and
  • Filing of arrival and departure manifests
  • Seek to streamline these processes for vessels carrying imported goods into India, vessels carrying export goods out of India as well as for vessels engaged in the coastal carriage.
  • The Regulations also introduce some new forms which the carrier is obliged to complete.


A. Compendium

 1. In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 157[1], read with sections 30 (Delivery of arrival manifest or import manifest or import report), 30A (Passenger and crew arrival manifest and passenger name record information), 41 (Delivery of departure manifest or export manifest or export report), 41A (Passenger and crew departure manifest and passenger name record information), 53 (Transit of certain goods without payment of duty), 54 (Transshipment of certain goods without payment of duty), 56 (Transport of certain classes of goods subject to prescribed conditions),sub-section (3) of section 98 and sub-section (2) of section 158 of the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962), the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs notified Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment Regulations 2018 vide Notification No. 38/2018- Customs (N.T.) dated 11.05.2018.

2. These regulations were supposed to come into force w.e.f the 1st August 2018. But have a look at a below-mentioned table containing various deferments:-

Notification Defer Up to
Notification No. 65/2018- Customs (N.T.) dated the 30th July 2018,

(Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment (Amendment) Regulations, 2018)

Notification No. 88/2018-Customs (N.T.) dated the 30th October 2018

Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment (Second Amendment) Regulations, 2018

Notification No. 17/2019-Customs (N.T.) dated 27th February 2019

Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment (Amendment) Regulations, 2019.

Notification No. 54/2019-Customs (N.T.) dated 1st August 2019 (Few regulations and implementation of said rules was changed vide this notification)

Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment (Amendment) Regulations, 2019.

01.11.2019 (Transition Period of 45 Days before said date)
Notification No. 78/2019-Customs (N.T.) dated 31st October 2019

Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment (Second Amendment) Regulations, 2019.

Notification No. 14/2020-CUSTOMS (N.T.) dated 14th February 2020

Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment (Amendment) Regulations, 2020.

NOTIFICATION No. 66/2020-Customs (N.T.) the 31st July 2020

Sea Cargo Manifest and Transshipment (Second Amendment) Regulations, 2020.


B.What are these rules about?

1. It Supersedes:-

  • Import Manifest (Vessels) Regulations, 1971

As per Section 30, Customs Act 1962 Import General Manifest/ Import Report filed should be in conformity of Import Manifest (Vessels) Form Regulations 1976

  • Export Manifest (Vessels) Regulations, 1976

As per Section 47, Customs Act 1962 The Export General Manifest should be filed in terms of Export Manifest (Vessels) Regulations, 1976.

  • Transportation of Goods (through foreign territory) Regulations, 1965

Section 56 of the Customs Act 1962, whether imported or indigenous which is to be transported from one part of India to another through a route that lies partly over the territory of a foreign country.

 2. Now, SCMTR Introduces:- 

  • Arrival Manifest in place of IGM.
  • Departure Manifest in place of EGM.
  • Arrival Transshipment Manifest in place of SMTP.
  • Departure Transshipment Manifest in place of Truck Summary.

3. Arrival Manifest (AM):

  • Mandatory rule of Arrival Manifest to be filed in customs before vessel getting departed from Last foreign port of call.
  • For all containers going to discharge for local or discharge for transshipment at any Indian Ports.
  • Harmonized (HS) Code of 8-digit is mandatory for Arrival Manifest to customs

4. Departure Manifest (DM):

  • Mandatory rule of Departure Manifest must be submitted to India Customs Prior Sailing of the vessel from Port of Loading in India.
  • Applied for all containers loaded on the said vessel at Indian Ports.

5. Salient Features of SCMTR:

  • Covers reporting of all cargo in the ship rather than import/ export cargo (coastal cargo, same bottom cargo)
  • Seeks additional details about every cargo reported (invoice value, HSN, etc.)
  • The time of reporting is advanced to the port of departure.
  • Ensures track and trace of the cargo reported.
  • Includes features necessary for the movement of vessels within India.
  • Electronic capture of details sought manually through paper (Crew List etc.)
  • Online Application for Entry Inward.
  • Enhanced, Real-time information exchange.

 C. Elucidation of SCMT Regulations

 1. Scope of SCMT regulations:

  • The SCMT regulation is applicable for all cargo to be discharged, loaded, or transshipped at any India port & also for cargo transiting via any Indian port (FROB – foreign cargo remaining on board or also known as SBC i.e. SAME BOTTOM CARGO).
  • The customs filings in accordance with SCMT regulation will also be applicable for cargo transiting via Indian ports on vessels that do not have any loading/discharge for cargo, hence all require-elements as applicable (mentioned herewith) will be applicable in this scenario.

 2. Imports to India:

  • Shipping lines are required to submit Import manifest details to Indian Customs prior vessel departure from Last port of call before calling India, for all containers which are going to be discharged at any port in India or are discharged for Transshipment at any of the ports in India.
  • In order to meet the above requirement, the Bill of Lading needs to be ready 72 hrs prior to vessel sailing from the Last Port of call.

3. Exports from India:

  • Shipping Lines are required to submit Export manifest details to Indian Customs prior Sailing of Vessel from India port of loading, for all containers which are loaded on as said vessel from India.
  • In order to meet this requirement, Shipping Instructions/ Shipping Bill would need to be
    available 48
  • Prior arrival of the vessel at the Indian Port of loading.

4. Invoice value:

Import into India/Export out of India – invoice value is required.

  • In case the shipper is not willing to declare the invoice value then ONE has no option but to update the value as ZERO (0).
  • FROB cargo – Domestic transit (getting cleared at the next port in India) is mandatory. This is applicable for both exports and imports.
  • FROB cargo – Only in case of foreign transit – declaration of the invoice value is optional.
  • Cargo – not custom cleared in India and in transit to another country – invoice value is optional.

D. Stakeholders (in Vessel Movement)

  • Authorized Sea Carriers (ASC): The Indian entity representing the Master of the vessel that shall have to be registered with the Indian Customs to transact business under the new regulations.
  • Authorized Sea Agents (ASA): The agents acting on behalf of the Authorized Sea Carrier(ASC)
  • Terminal Operators: Terminal operators or CargoTerminal Operators (CTOs), are responsible for the carriage or arranging the carriage of cargo, including the discharge of cargo from the aircraft and subsequent distribution.

E. Reporting Events – To be Filed by ASC/ASA: 

  • Before Departure at the last foreign port of call

a. SAM – Sea Arrival Manifest

b. SAA – Sea Arrival Amendment – can be filed without approval until the filing of the application for entry inwards, with approval afterward.

  • On Arrival at the Indian port of call

a. SEI – Sea Entry Inwards

b. SDM- Sea Departure Manifest before departure from the Indian Port of Call.

c. SDA – Sea Departure Amendment – without approval before the departure notification, with approval afterward.

  • After Departure from the Indian port of call

a. SDN – Sea Departure Notification

 F. Reporting Events – To be Filed by Terminal Operator of the Port:

  • Before Departure at the last foreign port of call

a. VCN – Voyage No. generated for the vessel – ICES generates a unique rotation number – The same rotation number can be quoted from arrival till departure for a vessel at a port.

  • On Arrival at the Indian port of call

a. ATA – Actual Time of Arrival – after the vessel has arrived the Terminal Operator shall give the actual time of Arrival giving information for the fields that are in the ATA Form.

b. CLA –Container Landed on Arrival – After the grant of Entry Inwards by the officer. Includes container details and the time when the offloading is completed.

  • Before Departure from the Indian port of call

a. CLD- Container Loaded-Departure – After the completion of loading. Including container details will be given and the time of completion of loading.

  • After Departure from the Indian port of call

a. ATD (Sailing Report) – Actual Time of Departure

G. Customs Inland Movement (CIM)

  • What’s New?

a. End to end track and trace of import/export cargo till it is cleared for home consumption/sails out of India.

b. Advance notification to Custodians on the arriving cargo for better logistical planning.

c. Tracking of movement even to and from CFSs.

  •  Stakeholders (CIM)

a. Custodian

b. Tran shipper (ATP)

  •  Reporting by Custodian

a. Stuffing/Stripping Report (in case of Exports).

b. ATD – Actual Time of Departure.

c. ATA – Actual Time of Arrival – On Arrival of the Truck/ Train the officer/ custodian.

H. Cargo Movement

Rules Help in:-

a) Identify each cargo (Entered/Exit) uniquely.

How to do it?

  • PCIN – Primary Cargo Identification Number: – Unique Number assigned by Customs to identify a cargo contained in single Transport Document mentioning Actual Buyer and Seller
  • PCIN – 18 digit number (YYMC00XXXXXXXXXX00)
  • MCIN – Master Cargo Identification Number Unique Number assigned by Customs to identify the consolidated cargo contained in consolidated Transport Document mentioning Freight Forwarder.
  • Each MCIN will be an aggregation of multiple PCINs. Referring to an MCIN in any subsequent manifest would mean the reference to all the PCINs within.

b) Use the Cargo details submitted for Risk/ Facilitation.

c) Re-use the cargo details submitted for subsequent movements.

d) Track and trace – cargo details.

e) Seamless Segregation & aggregation pro-cess.

f) Online Approvals – no manual interface required.

g) Consolidated Cargo.

I. Cargo Summary Notification (Manifest to be filed by Non-Vessel Operators prior filing of the SAM / SDM)

1. Cargo Details should be submitted to the Customs before Entry or Exit as per prescribed timelines.

2. The primary responsibility of submission is with the ASC.

3. When consolidated, ASC can fulfill that requirement, if the supplementary declaration is filed by NVOCC.

4. NVOCC/ASC can file cargo details earlier to manifest using CSN.

5. When CSN is numbered, PCIN would be returned for every primary Transport Document (HBL) included in the CSN.

6. MCIN returned when Master BL details filed by ASC for the first time. Further Referencing of Cargo CSN is done as follows:-

7. Prime Loader files CSN with HBL details – consigner/consignee/itinerary/cargo details.

8. For exports, it can come directly from document number (Shipping Bill)

9. For each HBL, PCIN is generated (Primary Cargo Identification No.)

10. In the CSN – DM, i.e. I-I movement, the transhipper only has to quote the PCINs, or if all PCINs under an MCIN are being carried together, then just quoting MCIN would suffice.

11. In case of segregation of cargo, the various PCINs under the original MCIN may subsequently Fall under different MCIN after re-aggregation. But the unique identifier for each cargo would continue to be the original PCIN.

[1] SECTION 157. General power to make regulations.

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July 2021