In November 1952 a convention to facilitate the Importation of Commercial Samples and Advertising Materials was concluded in Geneva. India was party to it and has accepted its recommendation and implemented its provisions through Notifications.
WHAT ARE SAMPLES
The Commercial samples are basically the specimens of the goods which are imported by the traders in India to know its characteristics and usage and assess its marketability in India. These samples are also brought by the representatives of Manufacturers abroad to show if to prospective customers in India, to persuade & convince them of the need, efficacy and suitability of these goods for the Indian market.
WHO CAN SEND/IMPORT
Samples can be imported by the trade, industry, individuals, Companies, Associations, Research Institutes or Laboratories. These can also be brought by the representatives of manufacturers abroad either as a part of their personal baggage or through post or courier. They can also be sent by manufacturers/ traders abroad to above parties in India.
WHAT CAN BE SENT
Samples of all types of goods namely consumer goods, consumer durables or prototypes of engineering goods or goods used in connection with securing export orders can be imported. Similarly, high equipment, machinery, including agricultural machinery and their accessories can also be imported.
LIMIT OF VALUE OF SAMPLES
For duty free clearance, the value of individual sample should not exceed Rs. 5,000/- and aggregate value should not exceed Rs. 60,000/- per year or 15 units in a year. The prototypes of engineering goods can also be imported even if the value is more than Rs. 5,000/-. Such goods upto Rs. 10,000/- can be imported without payment of duty if the said goods are rendered useless as merchandise by a suitable process. Where the value exceeds Rs. 10,000/-, the said goods are to be re-exported within a period of 9 months or such extended period as Asstt. Commissioner of Customs may allow. High value goods are to be imported by depositing duty with the Customs and giving an undertaking for their re-export within 9 months. The deposited duty is refunded when the machinery is exported back. The following clarification may be necessary on the above guidelines
The value of any item imported during a year should not exceed 15 units of the said item or Rs. 60,000/-. However, if more than one product is being imported into the India the value limit is increased proportionately. Similarly, in case samples are consigned to many consignees by one foreign company, but they are being sent at the same time through some Port/ Airport, it shall not be changed to duty if the limit of Rs. 5,000/- per unit each adhered to. The consignments meant for distribution to different parties in India can also be imported together for convenience of transport, if the packets are clearly marked and addressed to different persons in India. The value of Rs. 5,000/- is the export value of the goods excluding locally refundable taxes like VAT in the country of despatch. In case of free samples of Rs. 5000/-, it does not include freight or courier charges. If it is above Rs. 5000/- freight and insurance charges would be added to calculate the duty payable in India.
BONAFIDE SAMPLE / BONAFIDE COMMERCIAL TRAVELLER
The purpose of these beneficial notifications is to allow duty free import of genuine Commercial samples into the country. It is not to be used as a means to avoid paying Customs Duty through repeated imports in smaller lost. The bonafide commercial travellers of India or abroad are advised to travel with authorisation from their companies and carry normal trade literature as evidence of the genuineness of their baggage. The said goods, should also be clearly marked as samples. Normally, their passport shows the nature of their repeated travel. The invoices of samples sent from abroad should indicate that these goods are samples. The goods may bear inscription, markings or tags showing them as samples.
GOODS THAT CAN BE IMPORTED AS SAMPLES
All types of goods including Industrial and Agricultural machinery, consumer goods and Consumer durables, white goods are eligible to be imported as samples. However, goods which are prohibited under Foreign Trade (Development and Regulations) Act, 1992 are not allowed to be imported even as samples. Such as, wild animals, wild birds and parts of wild animals and birds, ivory, arms like revolvers and pistols and hand guns and ammunitions and narcotic drugs.
With reference to which place the value of the goods will be calculated i.e. whether the value is its value in India or abroad?
The value is reckoned to be the value at the place of despatch even in case of third Country goods, the value would be that of the country of despatch. For example, if the goods are manufactured in Tiwan and is being sent from UK as a sample to India, the value in UK is to be taken. However, the cost of freight, postal charges, courier charges are not to be added.
How the machineries which are costing more than Rs. 5,000/- but below Rs. 10,000/- are defaced to enable them to be brought without payment of duty?
Machinery, which are prototypes of engineering goods, imported either for further manufacturing of the said goods or to be used as capital goods for export production or in connection of securing further export orders can also be imported duty free if the value does not exceed Rs. 10,000/-. The said goods are normally defaced or made unsalable by punching, cracking, marking with indelible