India Will Not Levy Late Fee on Bills of Entry of Imported Cargo Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

The government exempts late fee charge on those bills of entry filed between March 21 and April 3, 2020


Amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the office of the Principal Commissioner of Customs (ACC-Import), has issued a pubic notice to clear imported cargo. According to the notice, late fee charge will not be levied on those bills of entry on the import general manifests (IGMs) that are filed between March 21 to 31, 2020, or filed late on or before April 3, 2020.

The letter signed by Nagendra Yadav, the additional commissioner of customs (technical) ACC (import), said, “Now, keeping in view of the situation arising due to the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country, there is a likelihood of late filing of Bills of Entry because of the difficulty in getting the related documents or difficulty in reaching the facilities from where the filing can be done on Indian Customs Electronic Commerce/Electronic Data interchange Gateway (ICEGATE) or through the service center.”

ICEGATE is the interface of the Indian Customs EDI System (ICES) with the rest of the world for sharing messages related to customs clearance.

As per the Bill of Entry Amendment Regulations 2018, late fee charges are imposed if the bills of entry are filed late.

This comes as a temporary relief to the solar sector in India, which depends on imported components. In the calendar year 2019, India imported solar cells and modules worth $2.17 billion. China was the largest exporter of solar modules and cells to India in CY 2019, with a market share of nearly 78%, followed by Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

The government has also announced relief measures for taxpayers and businesses as the country is fighting to curb the pandemic. The relief measures were announced, especially on statutory and regulatory compliance matters related to several sectors.

Given the spread of Coronavirus, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced that the customs clearance would be extended until June 30, 2020. The government said that 24X7 custom clearance would be provided until June 30, 2020. The due date for matters related to the compliance under the Customs Act and other associated laws has also been extended to June 30, 2020.

Also, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) issued an official memorandum, which states that the time extension in scheduled commissioning of renewable projects due to the disruption of supply chains in the wake of the pandemic will be treated as a ‘force majeure’ event.

In February 2020, the Ministry of Finance issued a clarification that Coronavirus will be covered in the force majeure clause and should be considered as a case of natural calamity.