It is not uncommon these days to see people taking advantage of the low prices and high quality of electronics in the United States by importing them for use in India. This includes all Electronics including Mobiles, laptops, tablets and other digital devices. While the import of electronics has to be regulated considerably more stringently than other products, their non-commercial import is generally encouraged by the government of India. Accordingly, there have been various changes in shipping and customs rules for Electronics. The procedure, however easy it may have become in the years, continues it be a pain. There are multiple forms to fill, procedures to comply with and custom duty to pay.
Thus, due to the strict customs regulations in this regard, there must be adequate perusal and compliance with the rules. These basically vary for different products. For the ease of the consignee, the following this a summary of all the important shipping and customs rules for electronics to comply with:
Stay in the Duty-Free Limit
A resident of India coming from any other country than Bhutan, Nepal, China or Myanmar above the age of 10 years has a free duty-free allowance up to Rs. 45,000/- for a stay of more than 3 days and Rs. 17,500/- otherwise. A notification issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Department of Commerce in 2016 has radically changed the dimension of import in the country. Consumer electronic items to the tune of Rs. 50,000 are excluded from the application of Rules.
All kind of electronic items must be declared to the customs under a form titled “Declaration,” and they shall be charged with a customs duty as is applicable under law. A declaration regarding the estimated market price, the description and features of the electronic good must be made. If wrongful disclosure is made regarding any fact, the customs officer confiscates the goods.
State of the goods
The goods must be packed tightly and it must also be ensured that there is no danger of damage to the electrical good or other goods. For this, Styrofoam and bubble packaging are generally suggested. The officers generally reject the items if not packed sufficiently.
It must be made sure that the goods are not damaged or hazardous in nature since additional liability shall be ensured in case there is any loss or damage due to the product.
Avoid prohibited and Restricted Items
India has a list of restricted and prohibited items. It is best to make sure beforehand that none of the electronic goods you seek to import, fall in this category. While there are no common electrical appliances that are prohibited, the Import Policy for electronic and IT goods has restricted Desktop computers, Air Conditioners, Diesel generating sets, and all refurbished spares of re-furbished parts of Personal Computers and Laptops which are importable against prior authorization. Such authorization must be obtained at the stage of disclosure of items sought to be imported. Also, Batteries or power banks especially Lithium-ion or lithium metal batteries are not allowed in any form.
Carry the needed Documents
Proper invoice from the seller and payment proof must be kept since it can be asked for at any time from the customs officials. Furthermore, a No-Objection Certificate or Authorization in any other manner provided by law must be obtained for Restricted items such as those mentioned above. Also, in case the Transfer of residence benefits are being availed, the passenger must carry the requisite documents including the proof of stay in the USA and an Indian Passport. Address proof may also be asked for by the officers if they find the objects sought to be shipped or imported suspicious.
Hearing aids and other life saving electronic appliances can be imported free of cost provided the need of the same is guaranteed by a registered medical practitioner or otherwise authorized by the customs officer. Thus, proper documentation for availing the benefit must be kept.
Stay in the Import Limit
A Single consignee per day must import no more than 2 electronic products. Furthermore, the maximum value of a single consignment must be less than $1500. This is the latest limit as set by the government in 2016. But as the trend shows, this limit is generally increased by the government through the official notification from time to time.
Calculate the right Customs fee
It is important to calculate in advance the customs duty to be prepared with the sum as well as to avoid getting cheated. The customs document lists the packaged items you are sending and their total value. This information is then used by the customs authority to apply the correct tax and duty. This fee is not applied by the courier, but by the customs authority receiving your shipment. The amount you have to pay is based on a combination of factors; including the reason for export, the type of product and the value of the items. This is a bill normally paid by the receiver of the parcel.
Availing Transfer of Residence benefits
There is a Transfer of Residence benefits available to Indian citizens who are coming back to the country. Depending on the length of stay abroad, ranging from a minimum of 3 months. This allocation of benefits is present with the logic of giving subsidy to Indian Passengers as they have stayed a long period abroad and consequently have a high opportunity cost of moving to India. TOR Rules allow for a duty-free import of Personal and Household articles like Video Cassette Player, Music System, Air Conditioner, Word Processing Machine, Microwave oven, Fax Machine, Electrical Cooking Range, Laptop and Personal Computers, Portable Photocopy machines and Domestic refrigerators of capacity up to 300 litres (also referred to as Annexure III articles). If the Duration of stay is between 3-6 months, the limit is Rs. 60,000/- only. For a duration of the stay between 6-12 months, benefits given includes duty-free import of items up to an aggregate value of Rs. 1,00,000/-. If the Duration of the stay is more than one year (in the preceding two years), the exemption is up to the tune of Rs. 2,00,000/- only and if the duration of the stay is more than 2 years the value is extended up to Rs. 5,00,000/-
These are some of the rules that must be kept in mind while shipping electronics from the USA to India. As we can infer, these are primarily to be observed regarding the quality, quantity, and condition of the goods to be imported. Also, the documentation and prior authorization when needed must be prepared for in advance. Furthermore, charges for shipping electronics from the USA to India vary as per the dimension and weight of the goods. For an estimation of the same, “International Shipping Cost Estimators,” can be used which are available online for free. Thus, keeping these things in mind one can easily ship the goods and avail the benefit of having good quality electronics imported from the USA at cheaper rates. By not following these rules, one may have to incur higher costs in terms of fines or increased custom duty.