New Indian customs rules might cause confusion on bills of lading

North of England Club has warned members that the introduction of a new customs regulation in India might cause confusion if interpreted as requiring a carrier to show the cargo’s invoice value on the bill of lading, effectively making it an ad valorem bill of lading.

The Indian Ministry of Finance recently issued the Sea Cargo Manifest and Transhipment Regulations 2018 (SCMT) relating to cargo manifests. These were meant to come into force on August 1st, but apparently India has now postponed it until September 15th, with an additional grace period until November 1st, for use of new forms.

A key part of the SCMT is to create new standards for the submission of electronic manifests to Indian customs officials. For imports, an electronic import manifest is required to be submitted to Indian Customs prior to the departure of the vessel from the last port of call. For exports, the export manifest is required to be submitted to India Customs prior to sailing of the vessel from any port of loading in India.

Under the SCMT, several fields of information must be provided when submitting an electronic manifest. One field ( refers to the invoice value of the consignment.

North sad that there was scope to read this to mean that carriers must now issue bills of lading which state the invoice value of the cargo. This would constitute an ad valorem bill of lading, with the potential legal effect that the carrier has waived rights of package / weight limitation.

North said that legal experts had confirmed the requirement of to provide invoice value currently was considered optional by the customs authority. Furthermore, the Indian Carriage of Goods By Sea Act does not mandatorily require the issuance of an ad valorem bill of lading.

North’s Members were advised to resist issuing an ad valorem bill of lading, even if requested on SCMT grounds.