Notification Year:  
Circular Year:  
Case Laws
At a Glance
How to File

Customs Manual

Clearance by Post

The facility for import of goods by Post Parcels has been provided by the Postal Department at its Foreign Post Offices and sub- Foreign Post Offices. Customs facilities for examination, assessment, clearance etc. are available at these Post Offices. Export of parcels can also be effected at the facilities provided at Foreign Post Offices and sub-Foreign Post Offices. Limited facility for export clearances are also available at Export Extension Counters opened by the Postal Department where parcels for export are accepted and cleared by the Customs.

2. Letter Mail Articles are generally cleared by the Customs at the time of their arrival and sorting unless they appear to contain contraband or dutiable articles. In such cases, the Letter Mail is subjected to further examination at the Foreign Post Offices or sub- Foreign Post Offices, as the case may be.

3. Goods imported or exported by post are governed by sections 82, 83 & 84 of the Customs Act, 1962. Furthermore, vide Notification No. 53/Cus dated 17.6.1950 (as amended by Notification No. 111/Cus dated 8.7.1955) Rules Regarding Postal Parcels & Letter Packets From Foreign Ports In/Out Of India have also been framed.

Importability of items through Post:

4. Import of dutiable goods by letter, packet or parcel posts is prohibited under Notification No. 78-Cus., dated 2.4.1938 (as amended), read with section 11 of the Customs Act, 1962, except where such letter or packet bears a declaration stating the nature, weight and value of the contents or if such a declaration is attached alongside indicating that the letter/packet may be opened for Customs examination. Dutiable goods may also not be imported by Post in case the Customs is not satisfied that the details as above are incorrectly stated in the declaration.

5. Items intended for personal use, which are exempt from the prohibitions under the Exim Policy, 1997-2002 or the Customs Act, 1962, can be imported by postal channel on the payment of appropriate duties under Chapter Heading No. 98.04 of the Customs Tariff. This, however, does not apply to items viz. Motor Vehicles, Alcoholic Drinks and goods imported through Courier Service which are to be assessed at merit rates of duty. In case the customs duty payable is not more than Rs. 100/-, the same is exempt vide Notification No. 17/2001-Cus. dtd. 1.3.2001, as amended.

Import of Gifts:

6. At the same time, bona fide gifts upto a value-limit of Rs. 5, 000/-, imported by post, are exempt from basic and additional customs duties vide Notification No. 171/93-Cus. dtd. 16.9.1993. Items imported as gift should not be restricted for importation under Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992.

7. The sender of the gift may not necessarily be residing in the country from where the goods have been dispatched. Any person abroad can send the gifts to relatives, business associates, friends, companies and acquaintances. The gifts have to be for bonafide personal use. The purpose of this stipulation is that the person receives the gift genuinely free and the payment is not made for it through some other means. The quantity and frequency of the gifts should not give rise to the belief that it is used as a route to transfer money. The gifts can be received by individuals, societies, institutions, like schools and colleges and even corporate bodies.

8. For the purposes of calculating the value-limit of Rs. 5, 000/- in case of imports of gifts, postal charges or the airfreight is not taken into consideration. The exemption under the above-referred Notification is subject to revision from time to time. The value of Rs. 5, 000/- is taken as the value of the goods in the country from where the goods have been dispatched.

9. If the value of the gifts received is more than Rs.5, 000/-, the receiver has to pay customs duty on the whole consignment, even if the goods have been received free, unsolicited. In addition, at the discretion of the Assistant/ Deputy Commissioner, if the goods are restricted or banned for import, the receiver has a liability for penalty for such import, even if the goods have been sent unsolicited.

10. Customs duty is chargeable on gifts assessed over Rs. 5, 000/- by the Customs. In case of post parcel, the customs department assesses the duty payable and the postal department collects the assessed duty from the receiver of the gift and subsequently deposits it with the customs. In case of imports of gifts by the Courier mode, the courier company deposits the amount with customs and collects the same from the receiver at the time of giving delivery. If the amount is high, the courier company intimates the receiver to contact Customs or make payment of duty for the said goods before release of the goods to the receiver.

Import of Samples:

11. Bona fide commercial samples and prototypes imported by post are also exempted from customs duty, subject to the value limit of Rs. 5, 000/-, provided that the samples are supplied free of cost by the supplier. Subject to conditions prescribed under Notification No. 154/94-Cus. dtd. 13.7.1994 (as amended from time to time), samples and prototypes of higher value are also permitted to be imported with a view to help exports.

Parcels containing medicines and life saving drugs:

12. Life saving drugs and items specified under Sl. No. 371 in the Notification No. 17/2001-Cus. dtd. 1.3.2001 (as amended), subject to the conditions prescribed therein, may be imported by post free from customs duty for personal use.

13. In addition to the above, various general exemptions from customs duties on merits would be available on imports made through postal channel.

Procedure in case of Postal Imports:

14. The Rules prescribed for landing and clearing at notified Ports/Airports/Land Customs Stations of parcels and packets forwarded by the foreign mails or passenger vessels or air liners are as follows: -

(a) The boxes or bags containing the parcels labeled as "Postal Parcel", "Parcel Post", "Parcel Mail", "Letter Mail" will be allowed to pass at the Foreign Parcel Department of the Foreign Post Offices and Sub Foreign Post Offices.

(b) On receipt of the parcel mail, the Postmaster hands over to the Customs the following documents:

(i) a memo showing the total number of parcels received from each country of origin;

(ii) parcel bills in sheet form (in triplicate) and the senders’ declarations (if available) and any other relevant documents that may be required for the examination, assessment etc. by the Customs Department;

(iii) the relative Customs Declarations and dispatch notes (if any); and

(iv) any other information required in connection with the preparation of the parcel bills which the Post Office is able to furnish.

(c) On receipt of the documents, the Customs Appraiser shall scrutinize the particulars given in the parcel bill and shall identify the parcels required to be detained for examination either for want of necessary particulars or defective description or suspected misdeclaration or under-valuation of contents. The remaining parcels are to be assessed by showing the rates of duty on the declarations or parcel bill, as the case may be. For this purpose, the Appraisers are generally guided by the particulars given in the parcel bill or Customs declarations and dispatch notes (if any). When any invoice, document or information is required whereby the real value, quantity or description of the contents of a parcel can be ascertained, the addressee may be called upon by way of a notice to produce or furnish such invoice, document and information.

(d) Whenever necessary, the values from the declarations are entered into the parcel bill and after conversion into Indian Currency at the ruling rates of exchange, the amount of duty is calculated and entered. The relevant copies of parcel bills with the declarations so completed are then returned to the Postmaster immediately. In case of postal imports, duty is calculated at the rate and valuation in force on the date that the postal authorities present a list of such goods to the Customs. In case the list is presented before the arrival of the vessel carrying the goods, the list is deemed to have been presented on the date of the arrival of the vessel.

(e) All parcels marked for detention in the manner indicated above are to be detained by the Postmaster. Rest of the parcels will go forward for delivery to the addressee on payment of the duty marked on each parcel.
(f) As soon as the detained parcels are ready for examination, they are submitted together with the parcel bill to the Customs. After examining them and filling in details of contents of value in the parcel bills, Customs note the rate and amount of duty against each item. The remarks "Examined" is then to be entered against the entry in the parcel bill relating to each parcel examined by the Customs Appraiser and the Postmaster’s copies will be returned by the Customs.

(g) In the case of receipt of letter mail bags, the Postmaster gets the bags opened and scrutinized under the supervision of the Customs with a view to identify all packets containing dutiable articles. Such packets are to be detained and are presented in due course to the Customs Appraiser with letter mail bill and assessment memos for assessment.
As soon as packets so detained are ready for examination and assessment, they shall be submitted together with the relative letter mail bill and assessment memos to the Customs. After examining them and filling the details of contents of value in the bill, the Customs Appraiser will note the rate and amount of duty against each item. He will likewise fill in these details on the assessment memos to be forwarded alongwith each packet.

(h) All parcels or packets required to be opened for Customs examination are opened, and after examination, re-closed by the Post Office officials and are then sealed by them with a distinctive seal. The parcels or packets remain throughout in the custody of the Post Office officials.

(i) If on examination the contents of any parcel or packet are found to be misdeclared or the value understated or to consist of prohibited goods, such parcels or packets must be detained and reported to the Customs and the Postmaster does not allow such parcels or packets to go forward without the Customs’ orders.

(j) The duties as assessed by the Customs Appraiser and noted in the parcel bill or letter mail bill shall be recovered by the Post Office from the addressees at the time of delivery to them. The credit for the total amount of duty certified by the Customs Appraiser at the end of each bill are given by the Post Office to the Customs Department in accordance with the procedure settled between the two Departments.

(k) The parcel bills or letter mail bills and other documents on which assessment is made remain in the custody of the Post Office, but the duplicates, where these are prepared, are kept in the Customs Department for dealing with claims for refunds, etc.

Procedure in case of Postal Exports:

(a) The rate of duty and tariff value, if any, applicable to any goods exported by post shall be the rate and valuation in force on the date on which the exporter delivers such goods to the Postal Authorities. Goods for exportation may be delivered at Foreign Post Offices (including Export Extension Counters) and Sub-Foreign Post Offices which have been notified by the Customs under section 7 of the Customs Act, 1962.

(b) The articles exported by post are required to be covered by a declaration in the prescribed form.

(c) All exports by post, where the value exceeds Rs. 50/- and payment has to be received, must be declared on the exchange control form viz. P.P. form. When the postal article is covered by a certificate issued by the RBI (with or without limit) or by an authorised dealer in foreign exchange that the export does not involve any transaction in foreign exchange upto Rs. 500/-, the declaration in a P.P. form is not necessary.

(d) Export by post of Indian and Foreign currency, bank drafts, cheques, National Saving Certificates and such other negotiable instruments is not allowed unless accompanied by a valid permit issued by the R.B.I., except incases where such negotiable instruments are issued by an authorised dealer in foreign exchange in India.

(e) Export of all goods is allowed under OGL to all destinations except those that are covered by the Negative List of exports. Goods upto the values of Rs. 15, 000/- are allowed for exports as gifts in a licensing year. Items covered under Negative List are not allowed as gifts without a license except in the case of edible items.

(f) Prohibition/restrictions under the Exim Policy and the Customs Act, 1962 exist on the export of various articles by Post. Some of these articles are viz. arms and ammunitions, explosives, inflammable material, intoxicants, obscene literature, certain crude and dangerous drugs, antiquities, etc.

(g) Export of purchases made by the foreign tourists is allowed subject to proof that the payment has been made in foreign exchange.

(h) If the addressee take delivery of parcels on payment of duty and then wish to have them returned to the senders they can do so only under claim for drawback under the observance of the prescribed procedure. Permitting an addressee to open a parcel and take the delivery of part contents on payment of duty and repack the balance of the contents for re-export without payment of duty thereon is not authorised and is irregular.

Copyright 2009, Customs India Online. All rights reserved.