CUSTOMS HOUSE AGENTS LICENCING

Who is a Custom House Agent (CHA)?
Who issues temporary Customs House Agents Licenses ? What is the procedure to be followed?
What is the procedure to grant a regular Custom House Agent License ?
Can the Custom House Agent employ any persons to assist him in his work as Custom House Agent ?
What are the obligations of a Customs House Agent ?
What is the validity period of a regular license ?
If the Commissioner rejects the application for issue of a temporary license or a regular license, is there any remedy available to the applicant?
Is the holder of a license issued at one Custom Station eligible to work in all Customs Stations?

 

Q.1 Who is a Custom House Agent (CHA)?

A. Any person who holds a valid license issued by the Commissioner of Customs under section 146 of the Customs Act, 1962 read with Customs House Agents Licensing Regulations, 1984

 

Q.2 Who issues temporary Customs House Agents Licenses? What is the procedure to be followed?

A. Temporary Customs House Agents licenses are issued by the Commissioner having jurisdiction over the Customs Station concerned. The procedure followed to issue temporary CHA licenses are as follows:

The Commissioner may invite applications for the grant of temporary licenses to act as Customs House agents in the month of January every year by means of a notice specifying the last date for receiving the applications. The application must be made within the specified period in the prescribed form by the persons desirous of obtaining a CHA license (temporary license). The applicant must satisfy the following conditions:

He must be an employee of a valid Custom House Agent. He must have a permanent identity card and has the experience of work relating to clearance of goods through the Customs for a period of not less than one year in the capacity of holder of a permanent Pass.

The applicant has financial viability supported by a certificate issued by a Scheduled bank or such other proof acceptable to the Commissioner evidencing possession of assets of the value of not less than rupees one lakh. if the application is for the grant of license in respect of any of the Customs stations at Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Cochin, Kandla, Goa, Mangalore, Tuticorin or Visakhapatnam. If the application is for the grant of license at any other port the financial viability is for not less than rupees fifty thousand.

 

On receipt of the application the Commissioner may make enquiries for verification of the particulars furnished in the application and he may grant a temporary license on execution of a bond with a surety, if necessary, for due observance of the regulations. The applicant is also required to furnish a bank guarantee or postal security or National Savings Certificate in the name of the Commissioner of Customs for an amount of Rs.25,000/- for carrying out business at Customs stations specified above. In case of other Customs station it is for Rs.10,000/-.

The temporary license is initially granted for a period of one year. This period may be extended by another six months or such further period not exceeding one year if the applicant accounts for a minimum volume of work prescribed. This extension is granted to enable the applicant to avail of the third chance for qualifying in the prescribed examination.

 

 

Q.3 What is the procedure to grant a regular Custom House Agent License?

 

A. Holder of a temporary license is eligible to get a regular license subject to the condition among other things that the holder of a temporary license is qualified in the examination conducted both written and oral. The applicant must qualify in the examination within a period of two years from the date of issue of temporary license by availing of a maximum of three chances. Such examination is conducted twice every year. The examination fee is Rs.500/- for each examination.

Once the holder of a temporary license is qualified in the examination he may apply to the Commissioner in the prescribed form . The applicant is also required to pay the prescribed fee of Rs.5000/-. The applicant is also required to execute a bond in the prescribed form and, if necessary, a surety bond for due observance of the Customs House Agents Regulations. He shall also require to furnish a bank guarantee or postal security or National Savings Certificate, in the name of Commissioner of Customs for an amount of Rs.25,000/- for carrying out business of Custom House Agent at the customs stations at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Kandla, Goa, Mangalore, Tuticorn or Visakhapatnam, and in the case of other ports for an amount of Rs.10,000/-.

The Commissioner may grant regular license if the performance of the applicant as holder of temporary license is found to be satisfactory with reference to among other things to the following;

  1. Quantity or value of cargo cleared as a holder of temporary license conforming to the norms prescribed by the Commissioner.
  2. Absence of instances of delay in the clearance of goods or in the payment of duty for any reason attributable to such temporary license holder and any complaints of misconduct including non compliance of any of the obligations of a Customs House Agent.

 

 

 

 

 

Q.4 What is the validity period of a regular license ?

 

A regular license granted is valid for a period of five years. The license may be renewed on application made to the Commissioner by the licensee before the expiry of the validity period. A fee of Rs.3,000/- is payable for renewal of the license. The license may be renewed if the performance of the licensee is found to be satisfactory with reference to the following-

a) Quantity or value of Cargo cleared by such licensee conforming to norms as may be prescribed by the Commissioner.

b) Absence of instances of delay either in the clearance of goods or in the payment of duty for any reason attributable to such licensee and any complaints of misconduct including non-compliance of any of the obligations of the Customs House Agent.

 

The license is valid for carrying on business as Customs House Agents at the Customs Station falling under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner who granted such license.

 

 

 

Q.5 Is the holder of a license issued at one Custom Station eligible to work in all Customs ` Stations?

 

A. Yes. Holder of a regular license is eligible to work in all Customs stations subject to fulfillment of the following requirements;

  1. The licensee has to make an application to the Commissioner of the concerned station where he intends to transact business for the purpose of registering himself and his authorized staff.
  2. The applicant fulfills the conditions relating to financial soundness as discussed in the above questions and possesses the ability to provide sufficient warehousing and transport facilities at the place of clearance of goods and also production of evidence relating to availability of sufficient clientele at his disposal.
  3. The applicant shall also be required to execute a bond in the prescribed from for due observance of the customs House Agents Regulations and furnish a separate bank guarantee/postal security/National savings Certificate in the name of the Commissioner for each Customs Station for an amount of Rs.25,000/- in the case of Customs stations specified in the previous questions and Rs.10,000/- in the case of the other Customs stations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q.6 If the Commissioner rejects the application for issue of a temporary license or a regular license, is there any remedy available to the applicant?

 

A. If the applicant is aggrieved with the order passed by the Commissioner he may represent to the Central Board of Excise and Customs, New Delhi within 30 days of the communication of such order.

 

 

 

Q.7 What are the obligations of a Customs House Agent ?

 

A. The obligations of Customs House Agents are as follows:

 

  1. Obtain an authorization from each of the companies, firms or individuals by whom he is for the time being employed as Custom House Agent and produce such authorization whenever required by an Assistant Commissioner of Customs.
  2. Transact business in the Customs station either personally or through an employee duly appointed by the Assistant Commissioner of Customs, designated by the Commissioner.
  3. Not represent a client before an officer of Customs in any matter to which he, as officer of the Department of customs gave personal consideration, or as to the facts of which he gained knowledge, while in government service;
  4. Advise his client to comply with the provisions of the Act and in case of non-compliance, shall bring the matter to the notice of the Assistant Commissioner of Customs;
  5. Exercise due diligence, to ascertain the correctness of any information which he imparts to a client with reference to any work related to clearance of cargo or baggage,
  6. Not withhold information relating to clearance of cargo or baggage issued by the Commissioner of Customs from a client who is entitled to such information;
  7. Promptly pay over to the Government, when due, sums received for payment of any duty, tax or other debt or obligations owing to the government and promptly account to his client for funds received fro him from the Government or received from him in excess of Government or other charges payable in respect of the clearance of cargo or baggage on behalf of the client;
  8. Not procure or attempt to procure directly or indirectly, information from the Government records or other Government sources of any kind to which access is not granted by proper officer.
  9. Not attempt to influence the conduct of any official of the Customs Station in any matter pending before such official or his subordinates by the use of threat, false accusation, duress or the offer of any special inducement or promise of advantage or by the bestowing of any gift or favour or other of value,
  10. Not refuse access to, conceal, remove or destroy the whole or any part of any book, paper or other record, relating to his transactions as a Customs House Agent, that is sought or may be sought by the Commissioner.
  11. Maintain records and accounts in such form and manner as may be directed from time to time by an Assistant Commissioner of Customs and submit them for inspection to the said Assistant Commissioner of Customs or an officer authorized by him whenever required;
  12. Ensure that all documents prepared or presented by him or on his behalf are strictly in accordance with orders relating thereto;
  13. Ensure that all documents such as bills of entry and shipping bills delivered in the Customs station by him show the name of the importer or exporter, as the case maybe, and the name of the Customs House Agent, prominently at the top of such documents;
  14. In the event of the license granted to him being lost, immediately report the fact to the Commissioner;
  15. Ensure that he discharges his duties as Customs House Agent with utmost speed and efficiency and without avoidable delay; and
  16. Not charge for his services as Custom House Agent in excess of the rates approved by the Commissioner from time to time under Regulation 25.

    In addition to the above a licensee is required to maintain accounts under the Customs House Agents Regulations and such accounts shall be maintained.

    1. In an orderly and itemized manner and kept up to date
    2. Reflect all financial transactions as Custom House Agent,
    3. He shall keep and maintain on file a copy of each of the documents such as bills of entry, shipping bills, transshipment applications etc. and copies of all his correspondence and other papers relating to his business as Custom House Agent.
    4. All records and accounts required to be maintained under Custom House Agents regulations shall be preserved for at least five years and shall be made available at any time for inspection by the officers authorized to inspect such records and accounts.

 

 

 

 

 

Q.8 Can the Custom House Agent employ any persons to assist him in his work as Custom House Agent?

 

A. On the application made by the Custom House Agent the Assistant Commissioner of Customs may approve one or more persons depending upon the volume of business transacted by the Customs House agent to assist him in his work as Custom House Agent.

The Assistant Commissioner may issue a temporary identity card to such employee to assist the Customs House Agent. A person issued with a temporary identity card may be issued with a regular identity card subject to the conditions that such person passes the examination conducted by the Assistant Commissioner within 6 months from the date of issuing temporary identity card. Such identity cards are issued after taking into consideration the antecedents and any other information pertaining to the character of such person.