Carry Cargo are experts in shipping to India and here we have outlined some of the pitfalls and problems that may surface when exporting to that country.

Shipments destined for India require expert knowledge of documentation & customs procedure to avoid time consuming and costly mistakes.

The India market can, if you are not extremely diligent, be a minefield of hidden requirements which, if not met in full can delay an urgent shipment or indeed, result in confiscation of goods.

Our Export team at Carry Cargo International has a wealth of in depth experience, practical knowledge and cultural insight which combine to allow you to have confidence that deadlines will be met and customers satisfied.

From the initial drawing up of Letters of Credit through to request of necessary proofs of delivery, Carry Cargo can advise, highlight elements of risk and help exporters avoid traps.

Transport Infrastructure

Air India is the official international airline and a number of other airlines provide domestic (and some international) flights. They are serviced by 352 airports (of which 253 have paved runways) and 45 heliports.

India’s railway system is the fourth largest in the world and the biggest in Asia. It operates 64,015km of track, 18,927km of which are electrified.

The country also has 4.6 million km of roads, the second largest network in the world, of which roughly half are paved. Freight traffic is high, with the private sector preferring road to rail transport.

India has the 29th largest maritime fleet in the world. Some of its main ports are Chennai (Madras), Cochin, Jawaharal Nehru, Kandla, Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay) and Vishakhapatnam. There are 14,500km of waterways.

Trade Relationship with the UK

6.4% of exports go to the UK and 5.4% of imports come from the UK.

Bills of Lading

No special regulations. May be made out “to order”, showing name and address of party to be notified.

As long as there are no payment or title (ownership) issues then check if the goods can move with an express bill or on express release to avoid potential delays that may occur when shipping with the full marine bill of lading (ie cargo cannot be released until the original has been handed to the carrier in your buyer’s country).

Cargo Notification Regulations Due to an increased awareness of the requirement for security procedures, India is one of the many countries that have introduced a mandatory Cargo Notification system known as the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. Generally completed by the masters of vessels, the airline, the carrier or the freight company, it must be received at least 24 hours prior to the departure of a vessel and in advance of arrival of an aircraft to the customs office of entry. Goods arriving without pre-notification may be denied entry or experience severe

Authorised Economic Operator Scheme

India has introduced a scheme for approving reliable and compliant traders with the benefit of awarding faster customs clearance. The status similar to the EU Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) scheme is granted to companies who over a period of time have proven to be compliant partners of the Customs Authorities. Accredited parties are allowed to self-assess their customs entries and are granted expedited processing of their shipments with minimal checks.

Certificates of Origin

Certificates of Origin (CofO) are no longer mandatory for EU shipments.

Special Certificates

  • Sanitary Certificates are required for livestock, plants, cut flowers, unmanufactured tobacco and sugar cane. They are available from The Forestry Commission, Plant Health Section, 231 Costorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 7AT. Tel: 0131 334 0303, fax: 0131 334 3047, website:

  • Plants and some, but not all, plant products require a phytosanitary certificate. Phytosanitary controls are required for the import of certain plants, seeds, potatoes, seed potatoes, fruit and berries, plant propagation material products and peat that could present a phytosanitary risk. Further information on the International Plant Protection Convention can be found at

  • Animals and animal products must be accompanied by a Veterinary Health Certificate acceptable to the authorities (also check prohibitions and restrictions).
  • Exports of milk and milk products to non-EU countries must be accompanied by a Declaration Origin (Dioxin) issued by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in the UK.
  • Whisky and other alcoholic spirits may require a Certificate of Verification of age, origin and GI confirmation if Scotch Whisky.
  • Health Certificates raised by an official authority in the exporter’s country are required for food and foodstuffs, including vegetables and fruit. The certificate is required even if only samples of food are being shipped.
  • Exporters of consumer products may be required to provide a Certificate of Free Sale (CFS) certifying that their goods may lawfully be sold in the UK. This CFS can be provided free of charge by the Import Licensing Branch (ILB) of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Contact Trade Facilitation & Import Policy Directorate, Billingham. Tel: 01642 364331 or email

  • Regulations are in place concerning the Registry and Labelling Requirement for Medical Products, which may also require a Health Certificate. A Health Certificate is also required for sample medical supplies.
  • Second-hand clothes should be accompanied by a Fumigation Certificate and an import licence issued by the director general of foreign trade.
  • Certain chemicals will require a Certificate of Analysis.
  • Second-hand/used machinery: import licenses are needed for these goods, and inspections are mandatory. Contact Intertek Testing Services (tel: 01277 223400) for full details.

  • Secondary steel: imports of seconds/defective steel items appearing in chapter 72 of the ITC (HS) classification are subject to a mandatory pre-shipment inspection certificate. This includes products such as HR coils and sheets, CR coils and sheets, tin plate, electrical sheets, plates, alloy steel bars and red (hot) rolled in coils. This type of shipment is allowed through Customs only at the Indian ports of Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta. For further information contact Intertek Testing Services, Academy Place, 1–9 Brook Street, Brentwood, Essex CM14 5NQ. Tel:01277 223400, fax: 01277 220127 or SGS United Kingdom Ltd (exporter helpline tel: 01276 697899, fax: 01276 697832). A list of goods exempt from pre-shipment inspection is available on the agency’s website:

  • Metal scrap: a pre-shipment inspection certificate must be presented for all scrap imports. The pre-shipment inspection certificate at the original port of loading will apply on all scrap in unshredded, compressed and loose form regardless of origin. Shredded scrap, however, is freely importable from any port without a pre-shipment inspection certificate but must pass the test of 10% inspection. Contact Alex Stewart Ltd, Caddick Road, Knowsley Business Park, Prescot, L34 9HP. Tel: 0151 525 1499, email: — website: for more information.

  • Shipments of wildlife and wildlife products subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) require an import permit.

  • Shipment of paper waste to India is controlled to ensure that it is free of hazardous waste, municipal waste or bio-medical waste and that non-paper content does not exceed 8% under policy circular 88 dated May 2009. Contact SGS for full pre-shipment inspection guidelines, (exporter helpline tel: 01276 697899, fax: 01276 697832).

  • Under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) the importation of rough diamonds, a Kimberley Process Certificate is required.

Commercial Invoices

Invoices to be issued in triplicate, originally signed. Invoices must include a full and accurate description of goods; first six digits of the commodity code (HS Code); transport details, weights and dimensions (including, when relevant, number and type of packages and packing details for loose cargo or container number for full containers); value and currency of the supply including separate indication of additional costs such as freight and insurance; the shipping term (the Incoterms® 2010 rule, eg FCA, CIP, DAP); country of origin and the full addresses of all parties concerned; the import licence number (when applicable); and, if insured in India, information about the insurance policy covering the shipment. If possible, exporters are recommended to obtain the India importer’s BIN (Business Identification Number) to quote on the invoice. If goods are not sold CIF, a separate freight note should be prepared showing amount of freight and insurance payable. It is advisable to display the following declaration on the Commercial Invoice: “We declare that the invoice shows the actual price of the goods described and that all particulars are true and correct”.

UK Export Regulations

All goods must be declared to Customs on leaving the EU (generally arranged by the freight forwarder/carrier). Because of increased cargo security measures, all shipments leaving the EU require a pre-departure message to be sent to the country of destination — it is known as the ECS (Export Control System). For goods travelling across the EU Member States to a non-EU country, the Export Accompanying Document (EAD) must be used to comply with Customs cargo security procedures. This is also the exporter’s official evidence of export. Created by Customs at the Office of Export (ie in the UK), it must be officially closed at the Office of Exit from the EU. The shipment can be tracked by the Movement Reference Number (MRN), which appears on the EAD on the Europa website ( The information required differs depending on the security status of the exporter and freight companies involved, ie whether all or some are approved under the EU’s AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) status. The export customs declaration for shipments leaving the EU is also required giving details of the shipment including the exporter’s EORI (Economic Operator Registration Identification number — similar to the VAT No.) commodity code, value, customs procedure code, export licence requirements, transport and packing information. Details submitted to Customs on this form must be notified to the freight company by the shipper and the shipper must check that the declaration has been completed accurately to avoid customs penalties. A copy of this official customs declaration and/or a certified transport document is required for VAT purposes.

Export Controls: Certain classes of goods are controlled under National and EU regulations. Examples are military goods, dual-use and military technology (including intangible transfer of such technology, eg by email or fax). These are all listed on the GOV.UK website under Consolidated list of strategic military and dual-use items that require export authorisation. Other goods not listed in the statutory instruments may be controlled if their end-use involves chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or the means of delivering them. Subscribers are recommended to seek advice from the BIS Export Control Organisation (ECO) website.

Source: Croners