In this write-up, I am going to discuss the Import Export Code (hereinafter called IEC.) Import Export Code is the alphanumeric code similar to the PAN of the Company/Individual/Firm, as the case may be. It is used for the identifications of the importer and exporter.

Provisions regarding the IEC are provided under;

1. The Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992,

2. Foreign Trade (Regulation) Rules, 1992, and

3. Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020.

Import Export Code


The Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992, defines import-export code in Section 2 clause (f). While in chapter III, Section 7 and Section 8 provides the provision regarding allotment and suspension of the IEC.

As per Section 2(f);

“Importer-exporter Code Number” means the Code Number granted under section 7.

So the code number granted under Section 7 is IEC. Now let us discuss section 7 in detail.

Section 7 “No person shall make any import or export except under an Importer-exporter Code Number granted by the Director General or the officer authorised by the Director General in this behalf, in accordance with the procedure specified in this behalf by the Director General:

Provided that in case of import or export of services or technology, the Importer-exporter Code Number shall be necessary only when the service or technology provider is taking benefits under the foreign trade policy or is dealing with specified services or specified technologies.”

 It is important to note that since the provision specifically excludes service and technology so this section in generality applies to the import and export of all types of goods.

So any person wants to import or export any goods need to have IEC, and one cannot export or import without IEC.

In the case of services and technology, IEC will be required only when; the importer-exporter is taking advantage under Foreign Trade Policy or dealing with specified services or technologies.


Section 8 deals with the suspension and cancellation of IEC. Section charts out the reason for the suspension or cancellation of the IEC. The reasons for the suspension or cancellation of the IEC are;

1. Contravention under this Act or rule made thereunder,

2. Contravention under Foreign Trade Policy

3. Contravention under custom, central excise, Foreign exchange, or any other economic offence, for example, wilful defaulter.

4. If the Authorised office has reason to believe that import or export has been made in the manner prejudicial to the Interest of India or its relationship with other nations.

5. Import or export is done in a manner contravening the provisions of the Act.

However, before cancelling or suspending IEC reasonable opportunity of being heard must be given to the person. If the IEC is suspended or cancelled, such a person shall import or export only under a special license.

Section 8.   Suspension and cancellation of Importer-exporter Code Number.

1(1) Where–

 (a) any person has contravened any of the provisions of this Act or any rules or orders made thereunder or the foreign trade policy or any other law for the time being in force relating to Central excise or customs or foreign exchange or has committed any other economic offence under any other law for the time being in force as may be specified by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette; or

 (b) the Director General or any other officer authorised by him has reason to believe that any person has made an export or import in a manner prejudicial to the trade relations of India with any foreign country or to the interests of other persons engaged in imports or exports or has brought disrepute to the credit or the goods of, or services or technology provided from, the country; or

 (c) any person who imports or exports specified goods or services or technology, in contravention of any provision of this Act or any rules or orders made thereunder or the foreign trade policy,

the Director General or any other officer authorised by him may call for the record or any other information from that person and may, after giving to that person a notice in writing informing him of the grounds on which it is proposed to suspend or cancel the Importer-exporter Code Number and after giving him a reasonable opportunity of making a representation in writing within such reasonable time as may be specified in the notice and, if that person so desires, of being heard, suspend for a period, as may be specified in the order, or cancel the Importer-exporter Code Number granted to that person.]

(2) Where any Importer-exporter Code Number granted to a person has been suspended or cancelled under sub-section (1), that person shall not be entitled to 2 [import or export any goods or services or technology] except under a special licence, granted, in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, by the Director General to that person.


The Foreign Trade (Regulation) Rules, 1993, does not provide anything specific to the IEC, however, the definition of importer or exporter is important here. As per Rule 2 clause (c), an importer or exporter means a person that imports or export goods and holds a valid importer exporter code number granted under section 7 of the above mentioned act. ‘

importer” or “exporter” means a person who imports or exports goods and holds a valid Importer-exporter Code Number granted under section 7;


The next and most important part of sub-legislation for IEC is Foreign Trade Policy, and currently, Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020 is applicable.

Under Para 1 sub-para 3, the Director-General of Foreign Trade(DGFT) has the power to issue a handbook on procedures and Aayat Niryat Forms.

1..03  Hand Book of Procedures (HBP) and Appendices & Aayat Niryat Forms (AANF)

Director  General  of  Foreign  Trade  (DGFT)  may,  by  means  of  a  Public  Notice, notify Hand Book of Procedures, including Appendices and Aayat Niryat Forms or amendment  thereto,  if  any,  laying down  the  procedure  to  be  followed  by  an exporter  or  importer  or  by  any  Licensing/Regional  Authority  or  by  any  other authority for purposes of implementing provisions of FT (D&R) Act, the Rules and the Orders made there under and provisions of FTP.

Further, Para 1 Sub-Para 11 provides the following;

1. IEC is mandatory for the export or import in India

2. DGFT issue the IEC in electronic form.

3. Application for obtaining IEC code will be submitted online, and payment to be made through net banking, and application to be signed digitally (either through class III DSC or through e-sign through Aadhar)

4. IEC to be allotted or rejected with reason within 2 working days.

1.11  Issue of e-IEC (Electronic-Importer Exporter Code)

(a)  Importer  Exporter  Code  (IEC)  is  mandatory  for  export/import  from/to  India

as  detailed  in  paragraph  2.05  of  this  Policy.  DGFT  issues  Importer  Exporter Code in electronic form (e-IEC). For issuance of e-IEC an application can be made on DGFT  (http//  Applicant can  upload  the documents and pay  the  requisite  fee  through  Net  banking.  Applicant  shall,  however,  submit the application duly signed digitally.

(b)  Processing of such applications by Regional Authority (RAs) of DGFT would

1.09  Citizen’s Charter

DGFT has in place a Citizen’s Charter, giving time schedules for providing various services to clients. Time line for disposal of an Application is given in Para 9.10 of HBP.

1.10  Online Complaint Registration and Monitoring System

An EDI  Help Desk  is available to assist  the exporters  in  filing online applications on the DGFT portal and resolving other EDI related issues. For assistance an email may be sent at or Toll Free number 1800111550 can be used. Help Desk  facility  is  also  operational  at  the  4  DGFT  Zonal  Offices  (details  at An Online Complaint registration and monitoring system allows users  to  register  complaint  and  receive  status/  reply  online  (details  are  at

1.11  Issue of e-IEC (Electronic-Importer Exporter Code)

(a)  Importer  Exporter  Code  (IEC)  is  mandatory  for  export/import  from/to  India

be  done  online  and  a  digitally  signed  e-    IEC  would  normally  be  issued/  e- mailed to the applicant within 2 working days.

(c)  In case the application is incomplete or otherwise ineligible, the same shall be

rejected and a Rejection letter/email (with reasons for rejection) would be sent to the applicant.

(d)  Application  for  issue  of  e-IEC  can  also  be  made  from  eBiz  platform


Other details regarding IEC is provided under Para 2 sub-para 05.

1. IEC is a 10 digit alpha-numerical code.

2. IEC is equal to PAN and will be used separately by DGPf

3. No import or export without IEC, unless exempted

4. IEC needs to be updated every year, between the months of April to June.

5. IEC will be deactivated in case of failure to update the IEC during the above mentioned period.

6. Once updated, the IEC will be re-activated.

2.05  Importer-Exporter Code (IEC)/ (e-IEC)

(I)  An  IEC  is  a  10-character  alpha-numeric  number  allotted  to  a  person that is  mandatory  for  undertaking  any  export/import  activities.  With  a  view to  maintain  the  unique  identity  of  an  entity  (firm/company/LLP  etc.), consequent upon introduction / implementation of GST, IEC will be equal to PAN and will be separately issued by DGFT based on an application.

(a)  No  export  or  import  shall  be  made  by  any  person  without  obtaining  an  IEC number  uness  specifically  exempted.  For  services  exports,  IEC  shall  be necessary as per the provisions in Chapter 3 only when teh service provider is taking benefits under the Foreign Trade Policy.

(b)  Exempt  categories  and  corresponding  permanent  IEC  numbers  are  given  in Para 2.07 of Handbook of Procedures.

(c)    Application process for IEC and updation in IEC is completely online and IEC can  be  generated  by  the  applicant  as  per  the  procedure  detailed  in  the Handbook of Procedure.i

(d)    An  IEC  holder  has  to  ensure  that  details  in  its  IEC  is  updated  electronically every  year,  during  April-June  period.  However,  for  the  current  year  only, this period is extended by another month i.e. till 31st July, 2021. In  cases  where  there  are  no  changes  in  IEC  details  same  also  needs  to  be confirmed online.ii

(e)   An  IEC  shall  be  de-activated,  if  it  is  not  updated  within  the  prescribed time. An  IEC  so  de-activated  may  be  activated,  on  its  successful  updation.  This would  however  be  without  prejudice  to  any  other  action  taken  for  violation of any other provisions of the FTP.iii

(f)  An  IEC  may  be  also  be  flagged  for  scrutiny.  IEC  holder(s)  are  required  to ensure  that  any  risks  flagged  by  the  system  is  timely  addressed;  failing which the IEC shall be deactivated. iv


1. Visit the website

2. Before applying for IEC, one needs to create a Login ID.

3. Once login is activated, the applicant will enter details regarding the company, its registered office, branch office, Directors, bank details (at least one bank need to be selected as a primary bank) etc.

4. Documents such as Address Proof, Account Proof, etc., will be required.

Other Services the provides includes,

1. Linking of IEC, and

2. Updating of the IEC.


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February 2024