Delayed Receipt of Documents from China Leads to Delays in Customs Clearance and Congestion in Ports, Customs Waiving Late Fee for Late Filing of Documents

Since the related documents are stuck in offices at source, importers are unable to file Bills of Entry on time

The Union Finance Ministry taking cognizance of thousands containers which arrived from China post the Coronavirus outbreak, stranded at various ports, has urged Customs Commissioners to take prompt action to redress the issue and, if required, waive late fee for delayed filing of Bill of Entry.

FinMin advise

The Ministry in a communication to the Chief Commissioners said that the trade and industry have represented that clearance of goods at Customs Stations are getting delayed in the wake of the virus outbreak. This is mainly on account of delayed receipt of requisite documents from abroad.

It has also been reported in the media that goods are getting piled up for clearances leading to undue hardship for this purpose.

A media on Thursday reported that thousands of containers are stranded at ports as documents concerned are stuck inside locked offices of shippers at Chinese cities. As a result, BoE could not be filed with the Customs Department to clear the containers.

“You are requested to monitor the situation closely and ensure prompt redressal of issues. Each Customs location is required to set up a dedicated help desk for this purpose,” the Ministry said. The Ministry has also instructed all Customs Commissioners to monitor the situation closely and ensure prompt redressal.

The Ministry also drew attention to Bill of Entry (Electronics Integrated Declaration and Paperless Processing) Regulations, 2018, which provides for waiver of late fee where proper officer is satisfied with the reason for delay. This provision may be utilised appropriately to mitigate the situation, the circular said.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Customs today waived late fee charges for BoE filed late for clearance of import consignment from China. Other Customs Houses, including Chennai, are also likely to give such an exemption.

A circular by the Mumbai Customs said that post outbreak of Coronavirus there is likelihood of import containers arriving from China being stranded in the port/container freight stations on account of non-receipt of basic import documents by the Indian consignees, resulting in late filing of Bills of Entry.

This issue was raised by many stakeholders, including importers, exporters and Customs Brokers.

The circular said late filing of BoE attracts late fee (₹5,000 for first day after arrival of the box and ₹10,000 daily thereafter).

Public interest

However, keeping in view the exigency because of the pandemic and to facilitate clearance of the consignments, it is decided in the public interest that the BoE filed late for clearance of import consignments from China will not attract any late fee charges based on a letter submitted by the importer/Custom Broker that the delay in filing the Bill of Entry was on account of non-receipt of documents from China, it added.

[JNCH Public Notice No. 24/2020 dated 20.02.2020]

Sub: Facilitation of clearance of import containers due to delay in receiving of documents from China.

Attention of the importers, exporters, Customs Brokers and all other stakeholders is invited to the above mentioned subject.

2. In this regard, it is mentioned that post outbreak of Corona Virus there is likelihood of import containers arriving from China being stranded in the Port/CFSs on account of non-receipt of basic import documents by the Indian consignees, resulting in late filing of Bills of Entry.

3. As late filing of Bills of Entry attracts late fee in terms of Bill of Entry (Forms) Amendment Regulations, 2017 vide Notification No. 27/2017-Cus.(NT) dated 31.03.2017, therefore, keeping in view the exigency because of outbreak of Corona Virus in China and in order to facilitate clearance of the consignments, it is decided in the public interest that the Bills of Entry filed late for clearance of import consignments from China will not attract any late fee charges based on a letter submitted by the importer/Custom Broker that the delay in filing the Bill of Entry was on account of non-receipt of documents from China.

4. Action to be taken in terms of decisions taken in this Public Notice should be considered as standing order for the purpose of officers and staff.

5. In case of any difficulty, the specific issue may be brought to the notice of ADC/JC, Appraising Main (IMPORT), NS-I or DC/AC in charge of Appraising Main (Import), NS-I.

F. No. S/22-Gen-402/2017-18/AM(I)Part-II