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No Custom Duties on Consumer Electronics Incl Mobile Phones valued upto Rs 50,000 – Update

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Importing products from other countries to India was never an easy job to do. Even though the products retail for a much lower cost outside the country, but the procedure to get it imported successfully and the customs duty that is imposed on them makes it that much more complicated. So, why is this so complicated? Is it ever going to change or stay the same? These are the questions which we don’t have answers to at the moment, or maybe it is safe to say that we might never have.

Earlier, there was customs on anything and everything imported in India that costs more than 2,000 INR. In such cases, the importer requires providing evidence of value to customs authorities like an invoice or even other sales documents. And if and only if these evidence were accepted, the receiver shall receive the post parcel, of course with duty assessed and payment of the same to the postal authorities.

Things became even worse after the MakeInIndia campaign came into effect. MakeInIndia is a campaign to promote the idea of manufacturing the goods within the country in order to produce better resources and other related opportunities that would directly affect the lives of people. After that had come into effect, they increased more customs to ensure people import less and purchase from local manufacturers. Well, this makes complete sense because until there is some valid reason for people to follow up on, no one is going to understand the point of doing it. So soon after that, things changed drastically. The biggest change happened on May 4th in India when Accessories were not going to be charged under Customs.

It was expected that the initiative would drop the prices of smartphones sold in India by around 20 percent. The brands were supposed to get the benefits of the current tax exemption, which would eventually help them grow the market share in the country.

Recommended: GST Effect on Smartphones in India – Prices to go up by 7-8 % in the coming weeks

But now let’s talk about the current scenario, shall we? According to a new provision passed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in India, the C.I.F value of import of consumer electronic items for personal use is enhanced to 50,000 INR. Finally, a breath of fresh air, isn’t it? The Amended provision applies on the c.i.f. value of the goods imported that is a sum of Cost, insurance and freight which in general sense should not be more than 2-3 percent of the total cost of the product.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 6.28.39 PM

In the past few years we have been Importing Smartphones & Gadgets either for review or personal usage and have found that the duties levied on these were sometimes 0% and at times went up to 42%. When insisted for the detailed duties, the private couriers would at least show us the tax information, while the Indian Postal services would just randomly charge an amount asking to pay the same or forget the product. With No duties for products up to 50,000 INR; this is a welcoming decision from the current government in India that not only helps us for personal purchases, but also ensures we do not have to go through the random charges that the department was levying.

Most of the Smartphones in the International Market are generally costing at a maximum of around $700-$750 which is still below the 50,000 INR limit & this means that we should be able to Import them directly without any additional duties. The effect of this would hit directly on all the brands who were selling Smartphones & Consumer Electronics at a premium price while the same were available at around 25% lower price in the International markets like Dubai, Hong Kong & Malaysia.

If you have been planning to purchase the Galaxy S7 smartphone, you should be noticing that even after a few months of launch the price is still at 48000 INR or $715 while in the US recently we had found a few deals where the same device was available for as little as $415. If there are no customs duties on importing and the shipping cost should be around 1,000 INR would you still purchase it locally? There would be many other examples but do make a note that this new amendment is only limited to personal imports and not for businesses. With that being said, let’s observe the changing results of this provision in future.

Now that there are no Custom Duties, will you buying the Next Apple iPhone 7 that’s launching next month? It would be launching & available in the first few weeks itself in hong kong. Let us know in the comments section below.

Update: According to a comment by our reader “ebuzznet” this new circular is all about Import Export Code that was earlier required for any personal shipments imported. There was no need to give your IEC Code earlier if the C.I.F. value is less than Rs 2,000 but now that limit has been enhanced and you can import any consumer electronics valued upto Rs 50,000. We are still awaiting for more clarity on this new update & will be updating this article once we have the information. At this moment, you need to make a note that the Import duties would still be levied. There are no duties charged if the value of the product is less than Rs 10,000 and if its imported as a gift though you may have to prove that it was a gift if required by the customs officer.

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