Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) an Integrated Customs Clearance for Imports Implemented; extended to Exports Clearance too: CBEC
After successful implementation of SWIFT for imports clearance, CBEC has moved to implement it for exports clearance also w.e.f. 5 Jan. 2017. Now Importers/ Exporters can e-file their Customs clearance documents with customs as single point and the required permission, if any, from other regulators would be directly obtained online.
1. Kind reference is invited to Board’s Circulars No. 03/2016 dated 03.02.2016 and No. 09/2015 dated 31.03.2015 regarding the Indian Customs Single Window(SWIFT). This project envisages that the importers and exporters would electronically lodge their Customs clearance documents at a single point only with the Customs. The required permission, if any, from other regulatory agencies would be obtained online without the importer/exporter having to separately approach these agencies. The Single Window provides the importers/ exporters a single point interface for Customs clearance of import and export goods thereby reducing interface with Governmental agencies, dwell time and cost of doing business.
2. With the successful implementation of SWIFT for import, it is proposed to implement online-release from Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) for exports from 05/1/2017 onwards as a pilot at Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai Air cargo complexes for CITES/ wildlife items. Under the pilot, Shipping Bills filed online on ICEGATE or through the Service Centre will be referred to the concerned agency, namely WCCB, online for a “No Objection Certificate’ (NOC), if any required. The selection of items to be referred to any agency will be based on criteria specified by the agencies. As in the case of imports, the list of Customs Tariff Heads (CTHs) for which goods require NOC from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, shall be published on ICEGATE.
3 . For granting NoC for goods entered for export, the offices of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau are connected to the ICES. The Officers of Wild Life Crime Control Bureau may use the same role in ICES used for import, to process NOC in exports. Once a Shipping Bill is filed, the system will determine whether the consignment contains items requiring NOC from the agency. The system will then automatically re-route the Shipping Bill to the concerned WCCB office for granting NOC. Should the Shipping Bill require processing by Customs, it will happen in parallel.
4. Based on the list of Shipping Bills marked to the WCCB, the Agency’s officer will retrieve the Shipping Bill online, and record the decision online on ICES. Should any documents be required for verification, for the time being, the Customs Broker or Exporter would have to produce hard copies of check-lists, export licenses, permits and other certificates/documents as required by the agency, until customs infrastructure is upgraded to provide uploading of soft copies of such documents. At this stage, the Agency’s office may record any of the following:
(i) Release: No Objection Certificate
(ii) Out of Scope: Item does not require the Agency’s NOC
(iii) Reject: Item is not permitted for clearance for “Let Export”. Agency’s office may make a suitable recommendation in respect of the item such as no-export or destruction. (The Agency will record this remark online.) Customs shall take further necessary action on the Shipping Bill.
(iv) Withhold NOC: NOC has been temporarily withheld for want of further documentation and/or testing after entering suitable remarks in the system by the Agency. These SBs can be retrieved by Agency’s office for a further decision (Release/Provisional NOC/Out-of-Scope/Reject) after the information is received.
(v) Provisional NOC: Presently, WCCB does not grant NOC on a provisional basis. [Note, if this option can be easily disabled, it may be disabled.]
5. Once NOC [Release/ Out of Scope/ or Provisional NOC] is obtained from the concerned agency and assessment by Customs (in cases where assessment is required) is completed, the exporter may register goods or present them for stuffing into containers (in case of containerized cargo). In cases where a sample needs to be drawn, the concerned agency will arrange with the exporter to collect them prior to the issuance of NOC. The rest of the procedure for registration of goods, examination (where required) and ‘Let Export Order’ will remain as at present. Since, the agency’s officer records the NOC online, Customs shall not insist on the physical copy of the NOC.
6. Where the concerned officer of the Agency prefers to reject NOC by choosing option at 4(iii) above, the officer will also enter his remarks online on ICES, which will include a brief note on the basis for rejection so that the concerned Assistant/Deputy Commissioner of Customs can take further action, including adjudication under the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962. In cases where the samples fail to meet the qualifying criteria upon testing, the Agency’s officer will also record the same on the system while rejecting the NoC.
In line with the Budget announcement made by the Honourable Finance Minister, as part of the “Ease of Doing Business” initiatives, the Central Board of Excise and Customs, Government of India has launched Customs SWIFT (Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade) clearances.
The Customs SWIFT enables importers/exporters to file a common electronic ‘Integrated Declaration’ on the ICEGATE portal. The Integrated Declaration compiles the information requirements of Customs, FSSAI, Plant Quarantine, Animal Quarantine, Drug Controller, Wild Life Control Bureau and Textile Committee and it replaces nine separate forms required by these 6 different agencies and Customs. With the roll-out of the Single Window, CBEC has also introduced an Integrated Risk Management facility for Partner Govt. Agencies (PGAs), which will ensure that consignments are not selected by agencies routinely for examination and testing, but based on the principle of risk management.
With this development today, Indian Customs is amongst a few select countries that have functional Single Window clearances, inclusive of multiple PGAs and integrated risk based selection. Implementation of Single Window is by far one of the most complex systems integration efforts that have been taken-up by the Directorate General of Systems. To introduce the Single Window and the ‘Integrated Declaration’, IT Systems government departments and private sector agencies also had to be changed. The whole exercise has been co-ordinated well and all this was possible due to unstinting efforts put in by officers of Directorate General of Systems and Single Window team.
The Single Window system is a crucial implementation of trade facilitation measure for goods clearance at the country’s points of entry and exit. Efficiency in the import and export procedures would save large sums of money for the importers and exporters in reduced trade-related costs and delays. By requiring all participating government agencies to publish standard operating procedures and timelines, the Committee of Secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary has set benchmarks and goals for all related regulatory agencies. In order to work collaboratively with agencies and industry stakeholders, port and central level Customs Clearance Facilitation Committees (CCFCs) have been established to simplify and streamline their interagency procedures and documentary requirements for import and export of cargo.
According to the Chairman, CBEC Shri Najib Shah, the time and cost associated with import and export clearances has been a matter of concern for the Government. In order to reduce the transaction costs and decrease cargo release time, a number of steps have been initiated by the Central Board of Excise and Customs. A significant leap in this direction is the launch of the Customs Single Window. Shri Shah added that there was strong willingness and support from all stakeholders for the Single Window project. The Department’s outreach program and enthusiastic private sector participation helped the department to launch the project in a timely manner.