Government Sets Up an Online Authorisation System for Laptop Imports

The government initiated an online authorisation system for the import of IT hardware products, such as laptops and computers. It rolled out the ‘import management system’ for IT hardware, modifying its initial stance of imposing physical restrictions. 

The primary focus of the new import management system is ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and streamlining the licensing process. The Director General of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Santosh Kumar Saranagi, stated that the new system would be contactless and faceless, and importers would not have hassles to fill in their details.

An importer can apply on the system to get authorisation for imports, and there would not be any restriction on value, quantity or country. The Department of Revenue is also involved in preparing the new system. The application process will take around ten minutes, and the simple license will be issued to importers in an automated manner.

Santosh Kumar Saranagi stated that the new authorisation or licensing regime aims to monitor imports of IT hardware products to ensure that they come from trusted sources. This announcement is significant since, in August, the government announced that an importer requires a license to import these goods from 1 November 2023. 

The new license regime applies to personal computers (including tablet computers), laptops, microcomputers, mainframe or large computers, and certain data processing machines. However, companies in the denied entity list will not get the authorisations. 

Though an online system has been implemented, these IT hardware products will still be under the restricted category, and there will be no change. Importers are allowed to apply for multiple authorisations. The import authorisation issued will be valid till 30 September 2024.

The DGFT provides several exemptions to different entities under this new license regime. The IT hardware products manufactured in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) can be imported into domestic tariff areas without import authorisation on payment of applicable duties.

Similarly, private companies importing these IT hardware goods for supply to the Central and state government agencies, undertakings or defence purposes are exempted from seeking import permission.

SEZ units, Electronics Hardware Technology Park (EHTP), biotechnology park, export-oriented units, and software technology park are not required to obtain the restricted import authorisation for the import of IT hardware.

India imported these goods worth USD 8.7 billion in 2022-23 compared to USD 10.3 billion in 2021-22 and USD 7.1 billion in 2020-21. It has imported personal computers, including laptops, worth USD 5.33 billion in 2022-23 against USD 7.37 billion in 2021-22.

The main countries from where these goods were imported in the last fiscal include China (USD 5.11 billion), Singapore (USD 1.4 billion), Hong Kong (USD 807 million), Malaysia (USD 324.8 million), US (USD 344.7 million), Taiwan (USD 272.5 million), Netherland (USD 132.8 million), and Vietnam (USD 126 million).

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