India drafts advance manifest rule

India drafts advance manifest rule

NEW DELHI -- The Indian government has issued new rules requiring ocean carriers and airlines to file import cargo manifests in advance. The rules, similar to the 24-hour anti-terror measure created by the United States, are effective Feb. 18.

For shipping lines, where the voyage from the last port of call exceeds four days, the import manifest must be filed at least 48 hours before the vessel enters an Indian port. If the duration of the voyage from the last port is shorter, then the manifest must be filed at least 10 hours in advance.

For airlines, the import manifest must be filed two hours before the arrival of the aircraft where the flight time is at least three hours from the last airport. For short-haul flights, the manifest must be filed before the arrival of the aircraft.

The manifest should be filed electronically at customs stations where electronic data interchange (EDI) is in operation, and on paper at other stations.

While the new rules ostensibly are intended to plug security gaps, industry observers say they are retaliatory. They point out that Indian ports of entry are ill-equipped to handle electronic filing, and that the rules will only create delays in processing.

The customs notification amends regulations that required import manifests be filed within 24 hours of the arrival of the vessel.

According to the notification, shipping companies and airlines will have to register with Customs -- by paying a specified fee and bond -- the names of authorized persons who will file the advance cargo manifest. Registration of such authorized persons is beginning immediately. Apart from owners of the vessel or aircraft, intermediaries like freight forwarders and consolidators also can file the advance cargo manifest by registering with the customs.

Filing delays are subject to a 50,000 rupees (about $1100) fine.