Customs dept asks importers to pay handling fees directly at sea ports to end excess charges

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBITC) has instructed customs authorities all over India to allow special category importers to pay terminal handling charges directly to the terminals for clearance of their containers at sea ports. This will put an end to the current practice of routing the container clearance charges through the shipping lines. The CBITC action was based on stakeholder complaints that shipping lines are Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 extra on each container as shipping clearance fees that what needs to be paid to the terminals.

In an instruction to the field offices on 13th January, CBITC chairman John Joseph noted that the action will facilitate ‘ease of doing business’ immediately as importers will save a huge amount that is currently being paid as excessive charges. India has a traffic of almost one crore containers a year.

The importers who will be allowed the direct payment facility are those who have availed the direct port delivery (DPD) facility offered by the terminals and the importers who are classified as the authorised economic operators (AEO) by the customs department.

The DPD customers are those importers who are allowed to take delivery of their containers directly from ports without first routing it through container freight stations which involves several days of procedural delays. AEO is also a certified trade partner who is entitled for lower rate of physical inspections and preferential treatment by customs authorities.

By permitting such importers to pay the container clearance fee directly to the terminals, CBITC has virtually helped trade and industries reduce an unnecessary transaction cost that was levied upon them.