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Circular No.: 7/2009-Customs

North Block, New Delhi,

9th February, 2009.


Government of India

Ministry of Finance

Department of Revenue

Central Board of Excise and Customs

Subject: Clarification on admissibility of benefit of exemption in respect of ‘Virgin Olive Oil’ under Notification No.21/2002-Customs dated 1.3.2002 – reg.

Your attention is invited to Notification No.21/2002-Customs dated 1.3.2002 as amended by Notification No.42/2008-Customs dated 1.4.2008 wherein certain duty concessions have been extended to edible oils specified therein.

2. In this regard, since the word ‘virgin’ is not mentioned in the description of the entry at serial No.33A of the Notification No. 21/2002 dated 1.3.2002, doubts have been raised by certain field formations about the eligibility for exemption and the benefit under the said notification to imports of Virgin Olive Oil of edible grade.

3. The matter has been examined in the Board. For the purpose of classification of edible oils enumerated in heading 1508 to 1515, other than olive oil, these have been simply grouped in a single heading as ‘crude’ and ‘others’ (refined). In respect of olive oil, it has been classified under two headings – heading 1509 and 1510; Heading 1509 covers virgin oil, refined virgin oils and their fractions. Based on the quality of olive fruit, the olive oil obtained by mechanical pressing can either be edible directly or needs refining to make it edible. Heading 1510 covers crude olive oils which are basically residue oils obtained by means of solvent extraction from the residues left after the olives have been pressed to produce olive oils of heading 1509.

4. There is no reference to the term ‘crude oil’ in the explanatory notes of the Harmonized System of Nomenclature (HSN) relating to oils of heading 1509. However, in respect of other edible oils such as soya bean oil (1507), ground nut oil (1508) there is a specific mention of ‘crude oil’. A sub-heading explanatory note is also provided in HSN, to explain what constitutes as ‘crude’ for the purpose of chapter sub-heading 1507.10 and 1508.10. This explains the types of oils covered under the category ‘Crude oil’ which is also mentioned in the explanation to the entry at Serial No. 30 of the Notification No.21/2002-Customs dated 1.3.2002. Applying the above explanation, all virgin olive oils fall within the purview of the definition of crude oil, since the virgin olive oil is extracted from the fruit of olive tree by mechanical process and does not involve any chemical treatment.

5. In view of the above, it is clarified that the term ‘crude’ used in the Serial No.33A of the Notification No.21/2002 dated 1.3.2002 is intended to cover all edible oils which have not been subjected to any process of refining. Thus, all types of olive oils, including ‘ordinary virgin olive oil’ and ‘extra virgin olive oil’ which have not undergone any refining process and are of edible grade, are eligible for the benefit of exemption under Serial No.33A of the notification as crude, edible oil. The condition of edible grade of olive oil has to be certified by testing it in terms of the standard of quality specified for such goods in Appendix B to the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955.

6. All field formations as well as trade may be suitably informed and all pending provisional assessments may be finalized accordingly.

Yours faithfully,

(M.M. Parthiban)

Director (Customs)

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