Circular No. ES/454/2020-21 26th March, 2021
To: Members of the Council
Sub: Urgent measures to sensitise members of Trade in light of proposed changes to Section 46 of the Customs Act, 1962
This is to inform that CBIC has issued Instruction No.05/2021-Customs dated 24th March, 2021 regarding urgent measures to sensitise members of trade in light of proposed changes to Section 46 (related to Bill of Entry) of the Customs Act, 1962. In this regard, JNCH has also issued Public Notice No. 25/2021 dated 25th March, 2021.
Kind reference is invited to the proposed amendments in Section 46 of the Customs Act, 1962 introduced through the Finance Bill, 2021 [clause 84 of the Bill].
Subject to passing of Finance Bill, 2021 by the Parliament of India, these changes in Section 46 would facilitate pre-arrival processing and assessment of Bills of Entry (BE) by mandating their advance filing thus leading to significant decrease in the Customs clearance time. The amended Section 46 would require an importer to file a BE before the end of the day (including holidays) preceding the day of arrival of the vessel/aircraft/vehicle carrying the imported goods at a Customs port/station at which such goods are to be cleared for home consumption or warehousing.
The proposed amendments in Section 46 also empower the Board to prescribe different time limits for filing of BE in certain cases, but not later than the end of the day of arrival of the vessel/aircraft/vehicle at the Customs port/station.
Members of Trade have represented for a relaxation so as to prescribe a different time line for filing of Bills of Entry in respect of imports at Land Customs Stations and airports, imports consigned from neighbouring countries, which arrive by short-haul vessels citing practical difficulties that may arise in filing of the BE before the end of the day (including holiday) preceding the day of arrival of the vessel/aircraft/vehicle carrying the imported goods at a Customs port/station. Board is considering the same. However, any relaxation that is found merited can be notified only after the proposed amendment to Section 46 comes into effect.
The aforementioned changes would be a distinct departure from the present legal provision that allows the filing of a BE even after the arrival of the vessel/aircraft/vehicle. Therefore, the trade/Customs Brokers etc. are being alerted to be ready for the change, which would come into force shortly with the enactment of the Finance Bill, 2021. Hence, Board has requested all the field formations to issue suitable Public Notices/Trade Notices urgently to sensitize the trade so as to avoid inconvenience and disruptions.
Please note that the Board would shortly issue a detailed clarificatory circular on the subject, once the Finance Bill, 2021 is enacted.
Members may kindly make a note of the above.