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1. Introduction:

1.1 The facility for import and export of goods by Post Parcels is provided by the Postal Department at is Foreign Post Offices and all the post offices. Customs facilities for examination, assessment, clearances are available at these post Offices. However, parcels for export will be opened and examined if required by the Customs at the jurisdictional Postal Department of the Zone as per Notification No. 31/2017-Customs (N.T.) dated 31.03.2017.

2. Legal Provisions:

2.1 Goods exempted from prohibition under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 can be imported through posts are to be classified under the respective Chapter Headings of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 and the applicable rate of duty is charged on all the goods imported by post. Further, goods again any import licence or customs clearance permit can also be imported through Post. All goods including alcoholic drinks imported through courier can also be imported through posts excepting motor vehicles.

2.2 All goods imported or exported by posts are governed by Section 83 and 84 of the Customs Act 1962, excepting Postal Parcels and letter packets.

2.3 In respect of import any through post necessary bill of entry needs to be filed either by the importer, postal authorities or the Customs Broker containing the details like description, quantity and value of the goods alongwith the manifest. Further, in respect of exports the procedures stipulated in Exports by Post Regulations 2018 issued vide Notification No. 48/2018-Customs (N.T.)

2.4 The relevant date for rate of duty and tariff value, if any, applicable in respect of imports through post is the date on which the postal authorities file the relevant Bill of Entry to the Proper Officer of Customs alongwith the list containing details of the goods for assessment.

2.5 If the post parcels come through a vessel and the said Bill of Entry is filed by the postal authorities is before arrival of the vessel, the rate of duty and tariff value applicable shall be as on the date of arrival of the vessel i.e. Entry Inward of the vessel.

2.6 In respect of export goods, the relevant date for rate of duty and tariff value, if any, applicable, is the date on which the exporter delivers the goods to postal authorities for exportation and files the documents prescribed under Notification. No. 48/2018-Customs (N.T.) dated 04.06.2018.

3. Clearance of Letter Mail Articles:

3.1 Letter Mail Articles are generally cleared by the Customs at the time of their presentation by elimination through scanning unless they appear to contain contraband or dutiable articles. In such cases, the Letter Mail is subjected to further examination at the Foreign Post Offices or sub-Foreign Post Offices, as the case may be.

4. Importability of dutiable items through post:

4.1 Import of dutiable goods by letter, packet or parcel posts is permitted subject to filling of bill of entry indicating that the letter/packet may be opened for Customs examination. Dutiable goods may also be imported by post if Customs is satisfied that the details of nature, weight and value of the contents in declaration as above are correctly stated.

[Notification No.78-Cus, dated 2-4-1938]

4.2 Items intended for personal use, which are exempt from the prohibitions under the FTP or the Customs Act, 1962, can be imported by postal channel on payment of appropriate duties under Tariff Heading 9804 of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975.

4.3 Customs duty payable if less than Rs.1000/- is exempt.

[Refer Notification No. 21/02-Cus, dated 1-3-2002]

5. Import of gifts through post:

5.1 Bonafide gifts up to a value limit as prescribed by the Government of India when imported by post, are exempt from Basic and Additional Customs duties. (Notification No.171/93-Cus, dated 16-9­-1993). Further, only those items can be imported as gifts, which are not prohibited for importation under Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992.

5.2 The sender of the gift may not necessarily be residing in the country from where the goods have been dispatched and any person abroad can send the gifts to relatives, business associates, friends, companies and acquaintances. The gifts should be for bonafide personal use only. The purpose of this stipulation is that the person receives the gift genuinely free and the payment is not made for it through some other means. The quantity and frequency of the gifts should not give rise to the belief that it is used as a route to transfer money. The gifts can be received by individuals, societies, institutions, like schools and colleges and even corporate bodies.

5.3 For calculating the value limit prescribed the Government of India in case of imports of gifts, postal charges or the airfreight is not taken into consideration. The value is taken as original value of the goods in the country from where the goods have been dispatched.

5.4 If the value of the gifts received is more than the prescribed limit the receiver has to pay Customs duty on the whole consignment, even if the goods were received free, unsolicited. In addition, at the discretion of the Assistant/ Deputy Commissioner, if the goods are restricted for import, the receiver has a liability for penalty for such import, even if the goods have been sent unsolicited. The restricted goods are also liable to confiscation and receiver has to pay redemption fine in lieu of confiscation in addition to duty and penalty. Certain prohibited goods like narcotic drugs, arms, ammunition, obscene films/printed material etc. are liable to absolute confiscation and the receiver is liable for penal action, even if the goods have been sent unsolicited.

5.5 Customs duty is chargeable on gifts assessed over the prescribed limit by the Customs. In case of post parcel, the customs department shall assess the duty payable and the postal department collects the assessed duty from the receiver of the gift and subsequently deposits it with the customs.

6. Import of samples through post:

6.1 Bonafide commercial samples and prototypes imported by post are exempted from Customs duty, subject to the value limit prescribed by the Government provided that the samples are supplied free of cost.

6.2 Importers having IEC code number can import commercial samples through post without payment of duty upto a value of Rs.100,000/- or 15 units in number within a period of 12 months. The goods so imported shall be clearly marked as “Samples”. The importer is required to furnish a declaration to the effect that the samples are solely for the purpose of being shown to the exporters for securing or executing export orders. The importer is also required to undertake that if declaration is found to be false, he will pay appropriate duty on the goods imported as commercial samples. [Notification No.154/94 Cus”, dated 13-7-1994]

7. Import of Indian and Foreign Currencies by Post:

7.1 Under the provisions of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, no person may bring or send into India any foreign exchange or Indian currency except with special or general permission of the RBI. Import of Indian currency notes and coins by post is not permitted.

7.2 To reduce pendency and to avoid delay in clearance of mail articles, Customs may allow import of both Indian and foreign currencies received by residents by post, provided the value does not exceed Rs.5,000/-, subject to the following conditions:

(a) Approval is granted by Assistant/ Deputy Commissioner of Customs;

(b) A detailed record should be maintained of the exemptions granted;

(c) Record of the name and addresses of the remitter and addressee in India should be maintained; and (d) Where a spurt is noticed in the number of covers received over a time, the matter may be reported to the concerned Regional Office of RBI.

7.3 Parcels/packets containing foreign/Indian currency, etc., in excess of Rs.5,000/- shall be Detained and adjudicated on merits and released on the basis of “No Objection Certificate” from the RBI. [Refer Circular No.16/2002-Cus, dated 5-3-2002]

7.4 There is a general permission given to Authorised Dealers to import currency notes from their overseas branches/correspondents for meeting their normal banking requirements. In view of this, no specific clearance is required from RBI for such imports.

[Refer Circular No.60/02-Cus, dated 13-9-2002 read with Annexure V to RBl’s AD (MASeries) Circular No.11, dated 16-5-2000]

8. Procedure in case of postal imports:

8.1 Rules Regarding Postal Parcels and Letter Packets from Foreign Ports in/out of India prescribe

procedure for landing and clearing at notified ports/airports/ LCSs of parcels and packets forwarded by foreign mails or passenger vessels or airliners. The procedure broadly is as under:

(a) The boxes or bags containing the parcels shall be labelled as “Postal Parcel”, “Parcel Post”, “Parcel Mail”, “Letter Mail” and will be allowed to pass at specified the Foreign Parcel Department of the Foreign Post Offices and Sub Foreign Post Offices.

(b) On receipt of the parcel mail, the Postmaster hands over to the Customs the following documents:

(i) A memo showing the total number of parcels received from each country of origin;

(ii) Eliminate the parcels which are letters, documents in consultation with the Customs Department.

(iii) File the Bills of entry in the prescribed forms along with the senders’ declarations and any other relevant documents that may be required for the examination, assessment etc. by the Customs Department;

(iv) The relative Customs Declarations and dispatch notes (if any); and

(c) On receipt of the documents, the Customs Appraiser shall scrutinize the particulars given in the memo and identify the parcels to be detained for examination either for want of necessary particulars or defective description or suspected misdeclaration or under­valuation of contents. The remaining parcels are to be assessed for duty by scrutinising the Bill of entry, as the case may be. For this purpose, the Appraisers are generally guided by the particulars given in the Bill of entry or Customs declarations and dispatch notes (if any). When any invoice, document or information is required to ascertain the real value, quantity or description of the contents of a parcel, the addressee may be called upon by way of a notice to produce or furnish such invoice, document and information.

(d) Whenever necessary, the values from the declarations are considered as per the Bill of entry and after conversion into Indian Currency at the ruling rates of exchange, the amount of duty is calculated and entered.

(e) Duty is calculated at the rate and valuation in force on the date that the postal authorities present a list of such goods or date of filing the Bill of entry with the Customs. In case the parcels are brought through a vessel and postal authorities present list of goods before arrival of the vessel, the rate of duty and tariff value shall be the date on which Inward Entry is granted to the vessel.

(f) All parcels marked for detention are to be detained by the Postmaster and the rest of the parcels which have been eliminated by the Customs will go forward for delivery to the addressee on payment of the duty marked on each parcel.

(g) The detained parcels are submitted together with the Bill of entry to the Customs and after examining the details of contents of value in the Bills of entry Customs Appraiser clears the bill.

(h) In the case of receipt of letter mail bags, the Postmaster gets the bags opened which is scrutinized under the supervision of the Customs with a view to identify packets containing dutiable articles. Those parcels containing non dutiable goods are eliminated and the dutiable packets are to be detained and presented in due course to the Customs Appraiser with a bill of entry for the purpose of assessment. The Customs Appraiser will assess the amount of duty against each item.

(i) All parcels or packets required to be opened for Customs examination are opened, and after examination, closed by the Post Office officials and are then sealed with a distinctive seal. The parcels or packets shall remain throughout in the custody of the Post Office officials. (The Rules and regulations prescribed under Not No. 26/2009- Cus (N.T.) for the handling of goods in customs areas will be applicable to the postal department.

(j) If on examination the contents of any parcel or packet are found mis declared or the value understated or consisting of prohibited goods, such parcels or packets must be detained. The Postmaster shall follow the instructions stipulated in Notification No. 26/2009-Customs (N.T.) dated 17.03.2019 and shall not allow such parcels or packets to go forward without the Customs’ orders. Adjudication proceedings shall be initiated in such cases by the competent officer and the parcels released only after payment of fine and penalty, if any, levied by the adjudicator.

(k) The duties as assessed by the Customs Appraiser in the Bill of entry shall be recovered by the Post Office from the addressees at the time of delivery of the goods to the importers. The credit for the total amount of duty certified by the Customs Appraiser at the end of each bill is given by the Post Office to the Customs Department in accordance with the procedure settled between the two Departments.

(l) The Bill of entries or the letter mail bills on which assessment is made remain in the custody of the Post Office, but the duplicates copies are kept in the Customs Department for dealing with claims for refunds, etc.

9. Legal provisions and exemptions in case of postal exports:

9.1 Goods which are not prohibited or restricted for export as per FTP can be exported by post through any of the post offices and will be subjected to examination at the specified Foreign Post Offices or Sub-Foreign Post Offices or Export Extension Counters. Drawback can also be availed for export through post and also through other export promotion schemes like Advance Licence, DFRC, EPCG etc. Commercial samples, prototypes of goods and free gifts may also be exported by the post.

9.2 The rate of duty and tariff value, if any, applicable to any goods exported by post shall be the rate and valuation in force on the date on which the exporter delivers such goods to the Postal Authorities for exportation.

9.3 Bonafide commercial samples and prototype of goods supplied free of charge of a value not exceeding Rs.50,000/- which are not subject to any prohibition or restriction for export under FTP and which do not involve transfer of foreign exchange, may be exported through post.

9.4 Bonafide gifts of articles for personal use of a value not exceeding Rs.25,000/- which are not subject to any prohibition or restriction on their export under FTP and which do not involve transfer of foreign exchange, may be exported through post.

9.5 Export by post of Indian and foreign currency, bank drafts, cheques, National Saving Certificates and such other negotiable instruments is not allowed unless accompanied by a valid permit issued by the RBI, except in cases where such negotiable instruments are issued by an authorised dealer in foreign exchange in India.

9.6 Indian currency notes of Rs.500/- and Rs.1000/- denominations are prohibited by Government of Nepal. Therefore, the Indian currency notes of Rs.500/- and Rs.1000/ – denominations shall not be allowed for export to Nepal.

9.7 Prohibitions/restrictions under the FTP and the Customs Act, 1962 apply on the export of various articles by post. Some of these articles are viz. arms and ammunitions, explosives, inflammable material, intoxicants, obscene literature, certain crude and dangerous drugs, antiquities, narcotic drugs etc.

9.8 Export of purchases made by the foreign tourists is allowed through post subject to proof that the payment has been made in foreign exchange.

10. Procedure in case of postal exports:

10.1 All goods exported by post are required to accompanied by the Declarations filed in the prescribed form as stipulated under Notification No. 48/2018-Cus (N.T.) dated 04.06.2018.

10.2 In terms of the exports made under claim of benefit under Chapter 3 (Reward Scheme) of FTP, the exporter shall file a Form prescribed under Notification No. 48/2018-Cus (N.T.) dated 04.06.2018.

10.3 All exports by post, where the value exceeding Rs.50/- and where payment has to be received, must be declared on the exchange control form viz. P.P. form. When the postal article is covered by a certificate issued by the RBI (with or without limit) or by an authorised dealer in foreign exchange that the export does not involve any transaction in foreign exchange upto Rs. 500/-, the declaration in a P.P. form is not necessary.

10.4 All the letters and parcels before being produced by the postal authorities to Customs officer in the Foreign Post Office should ensure that that prohibited goods like narcotic drugs, foreign exchange, currency etc. is not being sent through the parcel. The suspected parcels are to be presented to the Customs department which can be detained and handed over to the postal authorities for action as stipulated in Not No. 26/2009-Cus (N.T.) dated 17.03.2009.

10.5 The detained parcels are opened by Customs officer in presence of the postal authorities and if same do not contain any prohibited or restricted goods and there is no misdeclaration of value the parcels are re-packed and handed over to postal authorities for export.

10.6 If the detained parcels contain restricted or prohibited goods or mis-declared goods with intention to avail inadmissible export benefits, the case is investigated and adjudication proceedings are initiated.

11. Procedure for claiming Drawback on exports through post:

11.1 The exporters claiming any export benefits for the goods exported through post as prescribed in the Rules shall label the outer packing of the consignment and the exporter shall deliver to postal authorities a claim in the prescribed Annexure. The date of receipt of claim by proper officer of Customs shall be the relevant date for filing of claim under the Customs Act, 1962.

11.2 In case the claim is incomplete, a deficiency memo shall be issued within 15 days and if exporter complies within 30 days, an acknowledgement shall be issued. The date of issue of acknowledgement shall be taken as date of filing the claim for the purpose under the Customs Act, 1962.

11.3 Drawback on exports through post is sanctioned by the respective Foreign Post Office.

12. Drawback in respect of goods re-exported through post:

12.1 The goods imported on payment of duty may also be re-exported through post and applicable rate of Drawback under Section 74 of the Customs Act, 1962 claimed. The Drawback of the duty paid at the time of import is permissible subject to the fulfilment of the conditions of Section 74 of the Customs Act, 1962 and Re-export of Imported Goods (Drawback of Customs Duties) Rules, 1995. The Proper Officer of Customs at Foreign Post Office shall be satisfied about the identity of the goods being re-exported and if the same cannot be established, no Drawback would be payable.

12.2 The procedure to be followed for claim of Drawback on goods re-exported through post, which is paid by the Customs Officer in the FPO, is as follows:

(i) Rule 3 of Re-export of Imported Goods (Drawback of Customs Duties) Rules, 1995 requires the outer packing of the parcel to carry the words “Drawback Export” and exporter shall give a claim as per Annexure I to said Rules in quadruplicate to the Postal authorities. The date of receipt of aforesaid Annexure I by Customs from Postal authorities shall be the date of receipt of the claim for the purposes of Section 74 of the Customs Act, 1962 and exporter shall be informed.

(ii) If claim is incomplete, a deficiency memo shall be issued within 15 days and if claim is again filed by exporter after complying with the deficiencies within 30 days, the receipt shall be acknowledged and this date shall be treated as date of filing the claim for the purposes of Section 74 of the Customs Act, 1962

13. Export of postal goods under Reward Schemes under Foreign Trade Policy

13.1 Notification Nos. 92/2009, 93/2009, 94/2009 and 95/2009-Cus., all dated 11-9-2009 allow export of goods by post under claim of benefits under Chapter 3 (reward schemes) of the FTP from the Foreign Post Offices nominated under Not No. 31/2017 (Cus) (N.T.). The procedure for availing this benefit is contained in Public Notice No. 13/2013 dated 13- 8-2013 issued by the Commissioner of Customs (Exports), New Delhi.

[Refer Circular No 29/2013-Cus., dated 5-8-2013]

14. Re-export of partial consignment not allowed:

14.1 If the addressee takes delivery of parcels on payment of duty and then wishes to return to the sender, they can do so only under claim for Drawback after observing the prescribed procedure.

14.2 Permitting an addressee to open a parcel and take the delivery of part contents on payment of duty and repack the balance of the contents for re-export without payment of duty thereon is not authorised and is irregular.

15. Procedure for e-commerce exports through Post:

15.1 Any exporter holding a valid Importer-Exporter Code will be permitted to export goods by filing a Postal Bill of Export (PBE) in the form prescribed under Export by Post Regulations, 2018.

15.2 Every PBE-I(for e-commerce exports) shall be filed in duplicate and shall cover only one consignor. There will be no limitations on the number of postal shipments which can be effected under a single Postal Bill of Export-I. Invoices should be attached by the exporter with the PBE-I. Importer shall in addition file postal label or declaration as per CN22/CN23 which has a column ‘sale of goods’.

15.3 PBE along with goods shall be presented to Customs at the Foreign Post Office. Upon completion of processing of PBE, the goods shall be presented to the Postal department, who will acknowledge receipt of the shipment on the PBE and affix the tracking number of each shipment on the same. Upon affixation of the tracking number by the postal authorities, the PBE shall be brought back to the proper officer for grant of ‘Let Export Order’. Original PBE will be retained by Customs and the duplicate PBE will be handed over to the exporter or his Customs broker.

[Refer Circular No. 14/2018- Customs dated 25.07.2018, Circular No. 18/2018- Customs dated 13.06.2018]

Source – Custom Duty Manual 2023

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