With the development of a number of ICDs/CFSs in the hinterland, importers and exporters have got the option to either get their import/export consignments cleared at the gateway ports or any nearby ICD/CFS. The export goods cleared by Customs at an ICD/CFS are sent to gateway port in sealed containers. At the gateway port, such containers are normally allowed to be exported without any further physical examination of the goods. Similarly, imported cargo meant for any ICD/CFS is allowed to be transhipped in sealed containers from the gateway ports to such ICDs/CFSs and all Customs formalities in relation to clearance of cargo are completed by the importers at ICD/CFS.

2. The export containers once sealed at the ICD/CFS were not allowed to be re-opened for consolidation at the gateway port. In such a situation, if shipping line did not have full container load of LCL cargoes for a particular destination, he had to either wait for more cargoes for that destination to come or send the container half empty. Carrying half empty container increases freight charges for exporter and waiting for more cargoes at the ICD delays the export resulting in other problems. To minimize the freight charges on export, the shipping lines used to stuff the containers with LCL cargoes irrespective of their destinations and carry such containers to international hub ports e.g. Dubai, Singapore and Colombo. At the hub ports, they used to re-open the containers of LCL cargoes and consolidate the cargo in containers destination wise. Similarly, import containers stuffed with LCL cargoes irrespective of destinations used to be brought to hub ports, where shipping lines used to consolidate the cargo and stuff in containers destination wise.

3. There was a consistent demand from the Exporters, Importers, Shipping Lines, Agents and Consolidators of the country to allow the re-working of containers at the Gateway Ports of the country to avoid the extra expenditure incurred by them for undertaking the same job at the foreign hub ports e.g. Dubai, Singapore and Colombo. It was reported that the ports like Colombo are mainly handling Indian transhipment cargo. Considering the difficulties of the trade, the Board has issued a Circular No.55/2000-cus., dated the 30th June, 2000 as amended by circular No.22/2001-Cus., dated 17.4.2001 laying down a procedure for re-working of containers at Gateway Ports.

4. This facility allows shipping lines to take the containers stuffed with LCL export cargo, irrespective of destination, from ICD/CFS to a gateway port, where these can be opened and reworked with cargoes received from different ICDs/CFSs. After such re-working, cargoes can be stuffed in containers destination wise. Similarly, LCL import cargo brought from different destinations at any gateway port can be re-worked and consolidated to stuff containers ICD wise. With this facility of re-working of containers at Gateway Ports, the exporters get benefited by way of saving in freight charges, reduction in transit time, better handling and safer delivery of cargo as the activity takes place under the supervision of Indian agencies. The facility reduces freight charges for imported LCL cargo also as it helps in optimum utilization of container capacity, It also helps in attracting business for Indian ports and developing these Ports as transhipment hubs.

Procedure for consolidation of export and import cargo

5. Broadly, the procedure for consolidation of export and import cargo at the gateway ports is as follows:

B. Exports:

(a) LCL cargo brought to an ICD/CFS is subject to routine documentation, assessment and examination by Customs. After examination and clearance of LCL cargo at the ICD/CFS, the packages opened for Customs examination are sealed by the Customs. The shipping line is required to use identification mark on each package, clearly indicating serial number of package, description of goods, total number of packages covered under that particular shipping bill, exporters identity and their own codified identity;

(b) After completion of Customs formalities, the packages are handed over to the custodians along with two transference copies of shipping bill, certified copies of invoice, packing list, bill of lading and other documents;

(c) The custodians consolidate the cargo irrespective of shipping line and destination and stuff these in containers. After sealing of such containers in presence of Customs, containers are carried to the gateway port or a CFS near gateway port by the custodian;

(d) At the gateway port, the documents are handed over to Customs and the containers are opened in presence of Customs. The cargo is handed over to shipping lines/their agents/MTOs/consolidators, etc., who re-work the cargoes received from different ICDs as well as cargo cleared for export at the gateway port or CFSs near the gateway port and re-stuff the cargo in containers destination-wise in presence of Customs;

(e) The custodians of the gateway port or CFS near gateway port have to maintain a tally sheet container-wise indicating details of the export consignments, the previous container number, shipping bill number, AR-4 number and the details of new containers in which goods have been re-stuffed;

(f) The container number in which such cargoes are stuffed is to be indicated by the Customs Officer on both the transference copies of shipping bill and AR-4. One copy of shipping bill is retained by the Customs at the gateway port and other copy of shipping bill is returned to the originating ICD/CFS;

(g) The LCL cargo cleared by Customs at the ICD/CFS under this scheme is normally not to be examined again by the Customs at the gateway port or at the CFS where LCL cargoes are being consolidated;

(h) The drawback is be paid at the inland ICDs/CFSs immediately after the clearance of LCL cargo by Customs without waiting for actual shipment of cargo from the gateway port.

C. Imports :

(a) On arrival of the LCL cargo meant for ICDs/CFSs, at the Gateway Port the concerned shipping line files the I.G.M. with the Customs, as per the procedure;

(b) The de-stuffing and consolidation of the LCL cargo ICD/CFS wise is to be done at the earmarked space under supervision of the Customs and surveyors of the custodians;

(c) After consolidation of LCL cargo (ICD/CFS wise), the custodian at the Gateway Port is to prepare a tally list showing details of the import consignments, the previous container number, IGM No. and the details of the new container. The shipping line has to file sub-IGMs for all LCL (Import) cargo IGM wise;

(d) After acceptance of sub-IGM by the Customs, the LCL cargo ICD/CFS wise is allowed to be re-stuffed in empty containers. The containers so re-stuffed are sealed by the custodian as per the procedure. The details of the new bottle seal should be indicated in the sub-IGM;

(e) For transhipment of re-stuffed LCL cargo in new containers to different ICDs/CFSs, the concerned shipping line is to follow the procedure laid down in the Goods Imported (Conditions of Transhipment) Regulations, 1995;

(f) After completion of Customs formalities and clearance of LCL cargo at the respective ICDs/CFSs, a copy of the sub-IGM is to be sent back to the Customs authorities at the Gateway Port for confirmation/closure of IGM.

(Reference Circulars No.55/2000-Cus., dated 30.6.2000, 67/2000-Cus., dated 17.8.2000 and 22/2001-Cus., dated 17.4.2001)