Introduction: In a dynamic era where global commerce is increasingly driven by digital innovation, India’s Customs department has embarked on a transformative journey, introducing a series of pioneering initiatives that redefine the landscape of E-Commerce exports and imports. From the groundbreaking Hub & Spoke Model to streamlined regulatory frameworks and 24×7 customs clearances, these strategic measures represent a paradigm shift, propelling India into a leadership role in fostering seamless international trade. As the world witnesses a surge in digital transactions and cross-border engagements, India’s Customs initiatives stand as a testament to the nation’s commitment to not only meet the demands of a rapidly evolving global market but also to set new benchmarks in efficiency, transparency, and accessibility for businesses across the spectrum. This comprehensive exploration will delve into the intricacies of each initiative, highlighting their individual significance and the collective impact they are poised to have on the nation’s economic landscape.

1. Hub & Spoke Model:

HUB & SPOKE Model, an initiative to promote E-Commerce Exports through post office.

♦ 1001 Booking Post offices authorised for accepting consignment for exports

♦ Hub and Spoke Model has been launched for promoting India’s exports by using digital technology and apps for seamless exports via postal services

♦ Exporters can file the export documents electronically at the convenience of their home or office and deposit parcels at their nearest Post Office

Empowers MSMEs, Women’s Self-Help Groups/ Khadi & Village Units/Artisans, located even in the remotest parts of India who can connect to global markets and promotes e-commerce exports

For more details, please refer to Circular No. 06/2023-Customs dated 01.03.2023, 20/2023-Customs dated 07.08.2023 & 27/2023-Customs dated 01.11.2023

2. Simplified Regulatory Framework for Jewellery Exports:

Simplified regulatory framework to facilitate Export of Jewellery via International Courier Terminals (ICTs), supporting Make in India Brands leveraging the rapidly evolving global e-market place-

  • To accommodate the e-commerce business need, it incorporates a re-import process for returns of Jewellery
  • Such initiatives are aimed at supporting the Make in India brands in the international markets leveraging the rapidly evolving global e-Market space
  • This platform will immensely help the trade with better resource utilization as well as enhance their competitiveness in the international markets.

3. Auto Let Exports Order under ECCS:

Facility of Auto Let Exports Order under Express Cargo Clearance System (ECCS) helping in reducing dwell time of clearance of exports shipments through courier.

The Courier Shipping Bills (CSBs) filed for clearance of export goods under ECCS are subjected to Risk Management System (RMS), after the registration of the goods by the Custodian (arrival scan and weight record).

The RMS either facilitates or interdicts a Courier Shipping Bill (CSB) as per risk parameters.
It was decided that export goods which are covered under CSBs, and are fully facilitated by RMS (no assessment, no examination) and cleared by Customs x-ray scanning shall be automatically given LEO by the ECCS. This will considerably reduce the dwell time of clearance of export shipments through courier.

4. Postal Bill of Export (PBE) Automation System:

CBIC in collaboration of Department of Posts, developed a Postal Bill of Export (PBE) Automation System for electronic filing and processing of Postal Bill of Export, 1,001 post offices notified as Booking Post Offices for this facility.

> CBIC in collaboration with the Department of Posts has developed a Postal Bill of Export (PBE) Automation System for electronic filing and processing of Postal Bill of Export (PBE)

> Under the new system, an exporter need not visit a Foreign Post Office (FPO) to file the PBE and present the export parcel

> 110%. Exporters may file the PBE online from his home/office and handover the export parcel to postal authorities at a nearby booking post office

> Postal authorities shall arrange secure transport of export parcels from the booking post office to an FPO, where Customs clearance shall take place

> 1001 Post Offices notified as Booking Post Offices for this facility

5. Auto LEO Facility for Courier Shipping Bills:

Auto LEO (Let Export Order) facility extended to Courier Shipping Bills, marked for Assessment only, saving time in Customs clearance process

  • The Automatic Let Export Order (Auto LEO) Facility shall be allowed upon X-ray clearance to Courier Shipping Bill (CSB) marked for `assessment only’, provided that the CSB has been cleared under assessment and examination has not been mandated.
  • This Facility will save the time in Customs clearance process.

6. Direct Port Delivery (DPD) and Direct Port Entry (DPE):

Facility of Direct Port Delivery (DPD) introduced for importers to expedite clearance of goods directly from the port thereby reducing transaction time and cost.

♦ Direct port Delivery (DPD) is another innovative trade facilitation measure introduced by Indian Customs to expedite clearance Of goods directly from the port thereby reducing transaction time and cost

♦ In the traditional import process, all containers were mandatorily moved from port terminals to a nearby Container Freight Station (CFS) which is an off-dock facility notified by the Customs department for Customs clearances

♦ A total of 11769 importers have been registered under the scheme as on 31.08.2023

7.  Direct Port Entry:

Direct Port Entry enables the exporters for direct movement of containers from factories to port terminals, saving time and money.

  • DPE is a trade facilitation scheme of CBIC, in the Export side, which enables direct movement of containers from factories to port terminals, without intermediate handling at any CFS.
  • It will facilitate the exporters to Gate-In, their factory stuffed exports directly to the Container Terminal/through Parking Plaza on 24×7 basis.

8. System Generated Standard Customs Examination Order:

Facility of System Generated Standard Customs Examination Order to enhance the uniformity in examination and saving of time and costs.

  • Standardised Examination Order is issued where the cargo is selected for examination by the Risk Management System (RMS).
  • The functionality of Standard Examination Order is expected to enhance the uniformity in examination, and lower the time taken in the process as well as reduce associated costs.

9. 24×7 Customs Clearance Facility:

24×7 Customs Clearance Facility from select sea ports and air cargo complexes, ensuring service delivery to the cross-border trading community round the clock.

> Facility of 24×7 Customs clearances across 20 sea ports and 17 air-cargo complexes across the Country

> Now this facility has also been extended to the ICDs.

> No Merchant Over Time (MOT) fee is required to be collected in respect of the services provided by the Customs officers at 24×7 Customs Ports and Airports.

This will ensure service delivery to the cross-border trading community round the clock

10. ICETRACK Mobile Application:

Launch of  ICETRACK Mobile Application helps in live tracking the Customs Documents verification and Clearance process.

♦ ICETRAK is a one stop application for enabling Customs clearances , making the existing Shipping Bills and Bill of Entry verification process paperless and contactless.

♦ ICETRACK mobile application allows trade stakeholders to live track the Bill of Entry/Shipping Bill status, Duty, GSTN enquiry and validate the gate pass/ Bill of Entry/S hipping Bill copies with QR code scanning functionality.

♦ This speeds up the verification of documents by Customs officers deployed at ports gates and prevents unauthorized transactions.

11. ICEDASH for Monitoring Customs Clearance Times:

Release of ICEDASH helps importers & exporters to compare the clearance times across Customs Ports and gives valuable inputs for logistics planning.

ICEDASH is the Ease of Doing Business monitoring dashboard of the Indian Customs helping the public witness the daily Customs clearance times of import and export at all the major Customs stations.

This is aimed at improving monitoring and pace of Customs clearance of imported goods.

This helps the trade in comparing clearance times across Customs ports across Seaports, ICDs, Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) and Air Cargo Complexes (ACCs) and providing them information for logistics planning

Conclusion: India’s customs initiatives signify a commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment, encouraging seamless global trade, and positioning the nation as a leader in E-Commerce exports. These groundbreaking measures resonate with the spirit of innovation, making the customs processes more efficient, transparent, and accessible for businesses of all sizes.

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February 2024