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Bill of Entry Filing and Tracking Simplified: A Guide for Indian Importers

Bill of Entry Filing and Tracking Simplified. A bill of entry is a document that contains details about imported goods. It is filed by importers to the customs department when importing goods into India. The bill of entry serves three main purposes – declaring that goods have landed, indicating the import details, and enabling customs to assess duties. Having a proper understanding of the bill of entry process is crucial for importers in India.

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What is Bill of Entry?

The movement of goods across borders is an essential part of international trade. When goods are imported into a country, the customs authorities need information about those goods for regulating imports and levying duties. This is where the bill of entry comes in.

A bill of entry is a key document that importers are required to file when importing goods into a country. It provides all the details about the imported items to the customs department. Submission of an accurate bill of entry is crucial for getting imported consignments cleared through customs.

In India, the bill of entry is mandated under the Customs Act, 1962. It is filed by the importer or a customs broker on their behalf. The bill of entry contains information such as the particulars of the goods, quantity and value, duty rate and amount, importer and exporter details, and so on. It is like an itemized list of the imported shipment.

The bill of entry serves as the declaration made by the importer to the customs authorities regarding the goods being imported. It is essential for the customs clearance process and payment of applicable customs duties. Both commercial importers and casual importers need to file the bill of entry before imported goods can be released from the custody of customs.

Having a proper understanding of the bill of entry, its purpose and process is vital for anyone involved in imports to India. This document forms the basis for customs department to inspect, assess, and collect duties on the imported items.

A Bill of Entry Is a Document that Provides Details About Goods Imported Into India. It Contains Information Such As:

  • Details of importer and exporter
  • Goods description, quantity, and value
  • Tariff classification
  • Customs duties applicable
  • Vessel/flight details
  • Port of loading and discharge

This document is filed by importers or customs brokers on behalf of importers. It serves as a declaration by the importer about the imported goods.

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Why is Bill of Entry Required?

Here are the main reasons why a bill of entry is required when importing goods into India:

  • To declare that imported goods have arrived – The bill of entry formally informs customs that the imported shipment has reached the Indian port or airport. This declaration is mandatory under the Customs Act.
  • To provide import details to customs – All relevant information about the imported items like description, quantity, value, etc. must be furnished to customs through the bill of entry. This assists customs in appraising the goods.
  • For customs to assess import duties – The bill of entry enables customs authorities to verify the imported goods, determine the applicable duty rates and ensure proper duty payment.
  • To obtain customs clearance – After paying the assessed customs duties, the bill of entry facilitates release of imported goods from customs control. Customs clearance is only granted on submission of this document.
  • To generate import statistics – The bill of entry data helps the government maintain statistics on import volumes and values for different commodities.
  • For compliance with regulations – It is mandated by law that a bill of entry must be filed for imported goods. Not doing so is a punishable offence involving penalties.

Therefore, the bill of entry is compulsory for both customs and the importer to ensure all legal requirements related to an import consignment are fulfilled.

When Should Bill of Entry be Filed?

A bill of entry needs to be filed under Section 46 of Customs Act, 1962. The time limits for filing are:

  • For goods arriving by sea or air: Before the end of the next day following unloading.
  • For goods arriving by land: Within 12 hours of arrival.

For appraising the bill of entry, customs officials will examine the documents and may inspect the imported goods. Once satisfied, they can assign a customs officer to assess the duties.

Here Are the Time Limits for Filing a Bill of Entry for Imported Goods Arriving in India:

  • For Goods Arriving by Sea or Air: The bill of entry must be filed before the end of the next day after the goods have been unloaded from the vessel or aircraft. For example, if goods arrive on Monday, the bill of entry deadline is by close of business on Tuesday.
  • For Goods Arriving by Land Border: The bill of entry needs to be filed within 12 hours of arrival of the imported goods at the land customs station.
  • For Goods from Nepal/Myanmar by Land: The bill of entry timeline is within 24 hours of arrival at the border customs post.
  • For Postal Imports/Courier Parcels: The stipulated time is within 24 hours of arrival at the foreign post office or courier terminal.
  • For Baggage Imports by Air/Sea: Passengers need to file the bill of entry before checking out from the customs arrival hall.
  • For Goods Cleared Directly from Customs Bonded Area: The bill of entry must be submitted at least 12 hours before removal of goods from the warehouse.

Any delay in submitting the bill of entry after stipulated time will attract penalties as per customs regulations. It is essential for importers to file it promptly within the prescribed time limits.

How to Track Status of Bill of Entry?

Importers can track their bill of entry status online to know the processing stage. The main status values are:

  • Saved: Bill of entry filed but not submitted
  • Pending: Bill of entry submitted, awaiting customs clearance
  • Validated: Customs verified details, awaiting duty assessment
  • Assessed: Customs assessed duty, pending payment
  • Paid: Duty payment successful
  • OOC: Out of Charge, goods released from customs

Using the ICEGATE portal, importers can track bill of entry status by entering the IGM/Bill of Entry number, date, and port code.

Here Are the Step-By-Step Instructions to Track the Status of A Bill of Entry Filed in India:

  1. Go to the ICEGATE website: https://enquiry.icegate.gov.in/enquiryatices/beTrackIces
  2. Click on the ‘Tracking At ICES’ tab from the Side Tab.
  3. Select the Location of port code where the bill of entry was submitted, e.g. INNSA1 for Nhava Sheva port.
  4. Enter the IGM (Import General Manifest) number or the Bill of Entry number in the specified field.
  5. Select the date on which the bill of entry was filed from the calendar icon.
  6. Enter the captcha code shown on screen and click ‘Track Status’.
  7. The current status of the bill of entry will be displayed on the page. For example – saved, validated, assessed, paid, OOC (Out of Charge), etc.
  8. You can also enter the BE number and date to view detailed messages related to each status update.
  9. If the bill of entry is submitted at a non-EDI port which is not digitized, you may have to physically visit the customs office to get its status update.
  10. For any other assistance, you can contact the ICEGATE helpdesk or jurisdictional customs department.

This online tracking facility provides real-time status of a bill of entry filed anywhere in India. It is very useful for importers and customs brokers to remotely monitor progress of customs clearance.

Bill of Entry Amendment and Cancellation

Importers can request amendments in a submitted bill of entry due to any changes in import details. They can also request cancellation of a bill of entry which is pending clearance. For both activities, importers need to submit the appropriate form to customs along with supporting documents.

Here Are Some Key Points on Amendment and Cancellation of A Bill of Entry in India:

Amendment of Bill of Entry:

  • Importers can submit a request for amendment in a bill of entry which has been filed but customs clearance is pending.
  • The amendment application should be made to the Assistant/Deputy Commissioner of Customs along with supporting import documents.
  • Amendments can be requested for change in importer name, address, tariff classification, declared value or quantity. Additional duty payment may be required post amendment.
  • There is a time limit to apply for amendment – within 60 days of bill of entry filing or before return filing, whichever is earlier.

Cancellation of Bill of Entry:

  • Importers can apply for cancellation of a bill of entry on which customs clearance has not been granted.
  • The cancellation request application must be made to the Assistant/Deputy Commissioner along with justification and supporting documents.
  • Reasons for cancellation can be goods not imported, errors in documents, double filing of bill of entry, etc.
  • If duty was paid, cancellation can be done within 1 year of payment and refund application has to be submitted.
  • For premature cancellation, permission of Assistant/Deputy Commissioner is required.
  • Penalty may be imposed for repeated cancellation requests.

Amendment and cancellation, if done timely, provides an option to importers to rectify any errors or issues and avoid unnecessary delays.

FAQs on Bill of Entry

Q: Can a Bill of Entry Be Filed After Goods Arrive?

A: It is mandatory to file the bill of entry before unloading imported goods. Filing it afterwards will attract penalties.

Q: What Are the Charges for Late Filing of Bill of Entry?

A: If filed after goods arrival, penalties can range from Rs 5000 – Rs 1 lakh based on delays. Storage charges may also apply.

Q: How To Get an Advance Bill of Entry Assessed?

A: File form ABE along with invoice and other import details for assessment of an advance bill of entry.

Q: When Does Customs Duty Need to Be Paid for Imported Goods?

A: Customs duty payment is required before goods can be cleared from the port. It has to be paid after assessment and before out of charge status.

Q: Can a Bill of Entry Be Submitted without Importing Goods?

A: No, filing a bill of entry without actual import of goods is not allowed and can attract legal action.


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Hello, I am C.K. Gupta owner of Taxgst.in, a seasoned finance professional with a Master of Commerce degree and over 20 years of experience in accounting and finance. My extensive career has been dedicated to mastering the intricacies of financial management, tax consultancy, and strategic planning. Throughout my professional journey, I have honed my skills in financial analysis, tax planning, and compliance, ensuring that all practices adhere to the latest financial regulations. My expertise also extends to auditing, where I focus on maintaining accuracy and integrity in financial reporting. I am passionate about using my knowledge to provide insightful and reliable financial advice, helping businesses optimize their financial strategies and achieve their economic goals. At Taxgst.in, I aim to share valuable insights that assist our readers in navigating the complex world of taxes and finance with ease.

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