Import approval is based on compliance with procedures whereby specific items may be imported by certain types of importers under certain types of licences. Importers are divided into three categories for the purpose of import licensing:
- actual users; An actual user applies for and receives a licence to import any item or an allotment of an imported item as required for his own use, not for business or trade in that item.
- registered exporters; defined as those who have a valid registration certificate issued by an export promotion council, commodity board or other registered authority designated by the Government for purposes of export-promotion.
The two types of actual user licence are:
- general currency area licences which are valid for imports from all countries, except those countries from which imports are prohibited;
- specific licences which are valid for imports from a specific country or countries. Aside from the types of licences listed, the Open General Licence is perhaps the most liberalized type of licence available for certain items and certain types of importers.
Licences are valid for 24 months for capital goods and 18 months for raw materials components, consumable and spares, with the licence term renewable. Import licences may be obtained from the director general of foreign trade ( Office of Chief Controller of Imports and Exports, Ministry of Commerce, Udyog Bhawan, New Delhi 110011, Tel: 301-7777 ). Traders are advised to consult the Handbook of Procedures which is published by the Ministry of Commerce and is part of the Import and Export Policy for further details.