The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), on 30th October, 2017 issued an “Advisory” Circular No. 41 / 2017 – Customs, dated 30.10.2017 (In continuation of Circular No. 26/2017 – Customs dated 01.07.2017, Circular No. 36/2017 – Customs dated 28.8.2017, Circular No. 37/2017 – Customs dated 20.9.2017) regarding Implementation of Electronic Sealing of Containers by Exporters w.e.f. 1st November, 2017 (Earlier proposed date was 1st October, 2017. However, due to non-availability or difficulties associated in locating vendors of RFID Seals, implementation has been deferred for a month).

The Board in its earlier Circular prescribed certain conditions for Self-sealing procedure.

1. Obligation to intimate Jurisdictional Customs Officer

The exporter shall be under an obligation to inform the details of the factory or warehouse where container sealing is to be carried out.

2. GST & Other Compliance

The exporter should be registered under the GST and should be comply or file requisite Forms i.e. Form – GSTR 1 & GSTR 2.

Where exporter is not a GST registrant, then he shall bring the export goods to a Container Freight Station/Inland Container Depot for sealing. However, certain situations, an exception is available to the Status Holders recognized by Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under a valid status holder certificate.

Any exporter desirous of availing this procedure shall inform the concerned Officer at least 15 days in advance before the first movement of a consignment from his/her factory or warehouse.

The jurisdictional Superintendent or an Inspector of Customs shall visit the premises from where the export goods will be sealed for export. The concerned Officer will submit a report to the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner of Customs or the Assistant Commissioner of Customs within 48 hours.

Further, the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner of Customs or the Assistant Commissioner of Customs shall forward the proposal to the Principal Commissioner/Commissioner of Customs who would grant permission for self-sealing at the approved premises.

Once the permission is granted, the exporter shall furnish only intimation to the jurisdictional Superintendent or Customs each time self-sealing is carried out at approved premises. In case of unfavorable Order by concerned officer, the exporter shall bring the goods to the Container Freight Station for sealing purposes.

3. Validity of Self-sealing Permission

Self-Sealing permission once given by the concerned officer shall be valid for export at all the customs stations. The customs formation granting the self-sealing permission shall circulate the permission along with GSTIN of the exporter to all Custom Houses concerned.

Transport document for movement of self-sealed container by an exporter from factory or warehouse shall be same as the transport document prescribed under the GST Laws.

In the case of an exporter who is not a GST registrant, way bill or lorry receipt shall be the transport document.

The exporter shall seal the container with the tamper proof electronic seal of standard specification. Before sealing the container, the exporter shall feed the data such as name of the exporter, IEC code, GSTIN number, description of the goods, tax invoice number etc.

The exporter intending to clear export goods on self-clearance shall file the Shipping Bill under digital signature.

4. Consignments are subject to Inspection

All consignments in self-sealed containers shall be subject to examination or inspection at the port of export. At the port, the customs officer may verify the integrity of the electronic seals to check for tampering, if any. Circular No. 26/2017 – Customs, dated 01.07.2017.

Prescribed Procedure

The Board in its Circular No. 36/2017 – Customs dated 28.08.2017 prescribed a detailed procedure to be followed by the exporter.

1. The Exporters who were availing self- sealing at their factory under supervisory of the Department, will be automatically entitled for self-sealing procedure. Further, who are already following the self-sealing procedure need not to approach the jurisdictional officers.

2. Non-Compliance :

The permission to self-seal, once granted shall be valid unless withdrawn by the concerned officer for non-compliance to law, rules & regulations.

In case the exporter makes a request for a change in the approved factory, then the prescribed procedure as provided in the Circular No 26/2017 shall be followed & a fresh permission shall be obtained.

3. Intimation of Physical Serial Number

The exporter will be obligated to declare the physical serial number of e-seal at the time of filing Integrated Bill or in the case manual shipping bill before the container is dispatched for the designated port.

Exporter shall directly procure RFID Seals from vendors, confirming to the prescribed standards & specifications. In case, the RFID Seals found to be tampered with, then mandatory examination would be carried out by the Customs Authorities.

4. Requisite details from Exporters

Importer Exporter Code (IEC)

Shipping Bill Number with Date

E-SEAL Number with Date & time of sealing.

Destination Customs Station for export

Container & Trailer – Truck Number

5. Vendors Obligations

All vendors will be required to transmit the said details to RMD & the respective destination ports.

Further, all vendors shall be required to make their own arrangements for reading or scanning of RFID one-time Bolts at the Customs ports.

The integrity of the RFID Seal would be verified by the Customs Officer at the port.

Further, the vendor shall undertake to integrate the information stored on the data retrival server with ICEGATE at his own cost as specified by the Director General of Systmes, New Delhi. Circular No. 36/2017 – Customs Dated 28.08.2017.

Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) Seals with requisite Quality & Standards:

To ensure that RFID electronic seals are of a reliable quality, the Board has adopted international standards laid down under ISO 17712:2013.

Prescribed Standards:

1. Certifications under ISO Standards

Those vendors who are intending to offer RFID seals should furnish certifications required under the ISO 17712:2013.

2. Self-attested Certificates

All vendors proposing to offer RFID Tamper Proof One-Time-Bolt Container Seals to exporters for self-sealing, shall submit a self-attested certificates from seal manufacturers to the Director (Customs), CBEC, North Block, New Delhi, before commencing sales.

3. Copy of Contract

The vendors shall produce a contract between the vendor and manufacturer, to serve as a link document and undertake that the seals for which ISO certifications are submitted are the same seals pressed into service

4. Vendors Details on Board’s Website

Where the certification is found to comply with the said requirements, the names of such vendors will be made available on the Board’s website at www.cbec.gov.in for ease of reference of the trade and field formations.

5. Design of web- Application

Each vendor may develop and design their own web-enabled application. However, it is instructed all vendors to provide information as specified in para 4 (b) of circular 36/2017- Customs i.e.

Importer Exporter Code (IEC)

Shipping Bill Number with Date

E-SEAL Number with Date & time of sealing.

Destination Customs Station for export

Container & Trailer – Truck Number, to the department by email in excel format or any other format that may be specified. Circular No. 37/2017 – Customs dated 20.9.2017

Board’s Advisory Circular & Latest Developments

1. Dispensing the Presence of jurisdictional officer at approved premises

The proposed measure is expected to reduce transaction costs of exporters since they do not have to incur MoT charges in respect of such supervision as well as improve their timeliness of their exports. New facilitation will be backed by application of technology in the form of exporters using RFID e- seals.

2. Latest clarifications

Classes of exporters to adopt RFID e-sealing:

1. Those exporters who are already enjoying the facility of self-sealing after having been approved by jurisdictional formations.

2. Those exporters who have hitherto been availing of supervised sealing and have been automatically entitled to avail of self-sealing using RFID e-seals, without having to expressly seek any permission/approval of the jurisdictional commissioner for this purpose;

3. AEOs also allowed to avail or adopt the new procedure;

4. All exporters have been extended this facility subject to their filing GST returns but after seeking permission for self-sealing from the jurisdictional Commissioner.

Conditions:

The procedure prescribed under the relevant circulars applies only to – Cargo in full container load, sealed at an approved premise & by an entitled exporter.

5. Inspection of containers

Unless there are valid reasons or intelligence inputs, there shall be no inspection of such containers, once the RFID e – seal is read as intact or not tampered.

However, an RFID seal affixed on a self-sealed container is found tampered, the same shall be subject to Inspection or examination. After due inspection, further movement of such a container shall not be allowed under the RFID e-seal procedure and existing system of using the traditional bottle seals by customs shall continue.

6. Non – Applicability the Procedure

The prescribed procedure does not apply to export of non-containerized cargo or Air cargo or for movement of cargo from CFSs to ICDs/Ports or cargo exported through Land Customs Stations.

Extant practices in respect of such cargo shall continue.

7. Type of Readers – Have been Prescribed

The readers shall be:

Rugged and capable of withstanding shocks and vibrations and be generally adapted to outdoor/industrial environment.

Integrated devices with a large display screen for viewing of data fields.

The aforesaid data elements shall be displayed on the Reader display, on scanning of the e-seal by Customs.

8. Vendors Obligations

  • All vendors shall provide an application on a desktop computer to be made available by field formations so that e-sealing data pushed to the destination customs port / ICD is searchable in terms of any of the data elements.
  • The said application shall be made available within 30 days from the date of 30th October, 2017.
  • The vendors shall transmit the IEC details of such exporters who have purchased the RFID e-seals to RMD on a daily basis.
  • The IEC number and the name of exporter shall be provided only when the vendor makes the first sale to the exporter; there is no need transmit the details of the exporter each time a sale is made.
  • The vendors shall make all efforts to serve the requirements of maximum number of exporters by providing the RFID e-seals.
  • They shall also provide Readers to all the customs stations from where the client exporters are exporting their cargo.
  • The department reserves its right to direct vendors to provide Readers at any particular port/ICD.

9. Latest Advisory for all Exporters

♣ Exporters under erstwhile Procedures:

In respect of all exporters who have been permitted self-sealing facilities under erstwhile procedures and exporters who are Authorised Economic Operators, it would be mandatory to seal their export containers with prescribed RFID e-seal w.e.f 8th November, 2017.

Any non-compliance will subject the containers to usual RMS parameters.

♣ Exporters who are availing supervised stuffing at their premises

In respect of exporters who are availing supervised stuffing at their premises, extant practice of supervised stuffing may continue till 19th November 2017. With effect from 20th November 2017, they shall have to switch to RFID e-sealing procedures.

♣ New Applicants for self-sealing permission

Regarding the exporters who have newly applied to the jurisdictional customs authority for self-sealing permission under circular 26/2017-Cus dated 1st July 2017, they shall commence use of the facility subject to grant of permission and upon adoption of RFID e-sealing.

The applicable date for RFID e-sealing implies that exporters are required to use this procedure from the prescribed date. Any container sealed at the exporters premises before the prescribed date, shall not be required to be brought with RFID e-seal.

♣ On voluntary Basis

Those exporters who are in possession of RFID e-seals are at liberty to commence availing the facilitative procedures instantly.

The Board will take all necessary steps to make sure that the readers are made available in such Customs stations where readers have not been provided by any vendor, latest by 1st January 2018.

Circular No. 41 / 2017 – Customs, dated 30.10.2017

The Author is a budding Tax Law Professional @ can be reached at shreetaxchambers@bsnl.in

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