You need to apply for an Importer Exporter Code (IEC) if you want to import or export anything to and from India to other countries. Technically speaking, IEC is a 10-digit number granted by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to any Indian entity seeking to do international trade.
This code is better known in India simply as an export license, and is easy to apply for and get from the zonal or regional office of DGFT which has jurisdiction over your location of business. You can now also submit an online IEC application at dgft.gov.in with the required documents and fee of Rs. 250.
Before you run off to apply, please read this article once. I’m going to explain how to apply for IEC, along with a complete checklist of required application forms and documents, and the step by step application process.
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How to Setup a Business in India With Import-Export License
- Choose your products. The IEC will be granted only for the product category you apply for. You can seek IEC for additional categories, but you will have to pay an additional fee for each category.
- Decide your company name, if you have not registered a firm as yet. New firms that are planning to do export-import business should consider names ending with Exports (eg: Ramsay Exports).
- Register your firm, if it’s not already registered.
- Apply online for IEC – Importer Exporter Code with DGFT, and pay fee of Rs. 250 through electronic money transfer.
- EDC Registration – Register your export company with nearest port ( Airport and/or Seaport)
List of Documents Required for IEC Application
The exact documents required vary slightly based on whether your business is a proprietorship, partnership, LLP or company. Here’s the list of documents required for each one.
Proprietorship – Photograph (3×3); PAN card copy; ID proof (passport / voter id / driving license / aadhar card); Address proof (sale deed for self-owned; or rental / lease agreement + electricity bill or telephone bill); Bank certificate (see below) or cancelled cheque with printed name of applicant and bank a/c number.
Partnership – Photograph (3×3) of managing partner; PAN card copy of partnership firm; ID proof (passport / voter id / driving license / aadhar card / PAN of managing partner whose signature is on application); Address proof (sale deed for self-owned; or rental / lease agreement + electricity bill or telephone bill); Bank certificate (see below) or cancelled cheque with printed name of applicant firm and bank a/c number.
LLP and Company (both public and pvt ltd) – Photograph (3×3) of partner or director who is signing the IEC application form; PAN card copy of applicant LLP or company; ID proof (passport / voter id / driving license / aadhar card / PAN of partner or director whose signature is on application); Certificate of incorporation; Address proof (sale deed for self-owned; or rental / lease agreement + electricity bill or telephone bill); Bank certificate (see below) or cancelled cheque with printed name of applicant firm and bank a/c number.
Bank Certificate for IEC Application Form
One very important requirement for IEC application is a bank certificate. This certificate is required only if you cannot provide a cancelled cheque bearing the name of the applicant entity and bank a/c number. In case you do need it, you can ask your bank to give you this certificate. Download and print out this sample format of the bank certificate, and take it to your bank to get it signed and stamped from them.
How to Submit Online IEC Application Form
This section will tell you everything you need to know to access, complete and submit an online IEC application form with all the required documents.
First, keep digital copies of all the documents mentioned above. Then click on this link to fill up and submit your online IEC application form on the DGFT portal.
You will first need to enter a valid PAN number to access the form. Once you do this, you will be prompted to either create a new IEC application, or open an existing one. You can also close an application or check the status of a pending application.
Once you reach the IEC Master document, you will have to fill in a lot of details such as location, bank a/c and PAN details, firm establishment date, etc. At this point, you will be prompted to pay the fee of Rs. 250 through electronic funds transfer from designated bank such as SBI, ICICI, HDFC, etc.
Next you will get a screen for ‘upload documents’ where you can select the ones that are applicable to upload a digital copy of each document that your online IEC application for requires.
Once your application is complete in all respects, you will get the option to print the complete IEC application form and submit it to the specific DGFT office that covers your business location. Once you hit submit, you will get a final screen which tells you the Ecom Ref. No, along with your company name, the DGFT office to which the application has been submitted for processing.
This is all you need to do to complete your online IEC application form and get the 10-digit code from DGFT. Note that processing of IEC applications is supposed to be completed in two working days, which means you can get it in 3 days or a week at most.
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