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India Streamlines Import and Export Documents to Improve Business Climate

Friday, March 20, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The government of India has announced that as of April 1 it will reduce to three each the number of documents required for imports and exports of goods. A press release from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry states that this change should reduce transaction costs and expedite shipments and thus help improve India’s ranking in the “trading across borders” category of the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” report, where India most recently placed 126th of 189 countries.

The three mandatory documents for exports are now bill of lading/airway bill, commercial invoice cum packing list, and shipping bill/bill of export. The three mandatory documents for imports are bill of lading/airway bill, commercial invoice cum packing list, and bill of entry.

These changes reflect that the foreign exchange control form has been incorporated into the shipping bill for exports and eliminated for imports. In addition, the commercial invoice and packing list have been merged, though importers and exporters will still have the option of filing these two documents separately. Finally, the requirement for a terminal handling receipt has been eliminated.

With respect to other documents listed by the World Bank’s 2015 report as being mandatory in India, the press release notes that the cargo release order for imports is not required by any regulatory agency and instead is a commercial document issued by the shipping line to the importer. Further, the technical standard certificate (for exports) and the certified engineer’s report, product manual and inspection report (for imports) are required for specific cases/products/tariff lines only and are not mandatory for all products.

The official ministry notice making these changes notes that for imports and exports of goods subject to specific restrictions or policy conditions the appropriate regulatory authority may require additional documents.

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