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Centre relaxes limit of custom clearance beyond working hours at airports, seaport and ICDs

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The center announces the relaxation of limits of custom clearance beyond the normal working hours, allowing 24X7 business transactions to various Inland Container Depots (ICDs), seaports, and air cargo complexes across the nation. This brings a major relief for India’s trading fraternity, earlier, this 24/7 working facility was available only at 20 seaports and 17 airports.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), under the Ministry of Finance, said that it has issued a notification in this regard for the benefit of India’s exporters and importers of goods.
It is after several requests from the trade fraternity for an extension of timelines, that the permission for the 24/7 working hours has been granted. the fact that there was an improper alignment between customs clearances at the seaports and airports and ICDs, supported the fraternity’s demand.

“There was a need for the government to provide a uniform regulation across the industry. In absence of this uniformity, ICDs were looking to be working in isolation. Several traders were facing hurdles in absence of proper alignment between airport and seaport with ICDs. Now, the transaction at all the three cargo stations would be smooth and properly aligned,” said a senior industry official.

Addressing the issue raised in the representation, the Board clarified that since the requirements from members of the trade and the local circumstances may vary from place to place. To address this ambiguity, the Board has empowered senior officials having jurisdictions over ICDs to designate with the extended facility of customs clearance beyond normal working hours.

The CBIC has said that the concerned authority may make available the customs clearance service on a 24/7 basis, similar to the current board guidelines for sea port and air cargoes/airports. The facility of customs clearance may be extended on all seven days of the week (including holidays) with stipulated timing. Also, one of the options CBIC has also suggested is that the facility of customs clearance may be extended beyond normal working hours for specified days in a week and with specified timings.

Further, CBIC said that the decision to designate an ICD in any manner would be based on location requirement and resources availability, could be for specified imports viz. goods covered by ‘facilitated bills’ of entry only, or specified exports viz. reefer containers with perishable/temperature sensitive export goods sealed in the presence of Customs officials only or goods exported under free shipping bills only, or for all categories mentioned above.

To smoothen the trade, the CBIC has suggested the concerned official in the jurisdiction consider various aspects which include, requests from the trade associations, the volume of regular imports and exports, nature of import/export of commodities, participation of other agencies or entities concerned/involved, importers-exporters, customs brokers, among others.

The consultation with custodians is made in relation to an arrangement to be made by them for such purposes, the CBIC notification said. “If the ICD is not working with the waiver of cost recovery charges, it must agree on the aspect of cost recovery charges as well in a proper manner,” it added.

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