In August 2023, DGFT issued a notification1 categorizing the import of laptops, tablets, All-in-one Personal Computers, ultra small form factor Computers, and Servers under HSN code 8471 as “Restricted” goods.
Consequently, the import of the aforementioned items was to be permitted only with a valid License for Restricted Imports, effective from 3rd August 2023.
However, the effective implementation date was later deferred until 1st November 2023.
There were reports circulating that the government was considering postponing the requirement for a license to import these items until September 2024. However, no official notification to this effect had been issued.
On 19th October, DGFT issued a Notification and a Circular clarifying its stance on the licensing requirements, confirming that the requirement for a license to import these items will indeed be effective from 1st November 2023.
DGFT, through Notification No. 38/2023, has exempted the license requirement for the following import transactions:
IT hardware manufactured in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) may be imported into Domestic Tariff Area (DTA) without an Import Authorization, subject to payment of applicable duties (if any). However, it is worthwhile to note that activities such as re-packing, labelling, refurbishing, testing, and calibration alone within the SEZ would not be considered as “manufacturing” for the purpose of availing this exemption from Import Authorization.
Private entities importing the IT hardware for supply to below-mentioned government authorities are exempt from requiring an import authorization:
Central Government or agencies, undertakings owned and controlled by the Central Government, for Defense or Security purposes.
State Government for Security purposes
However, the private entities at the time of import, need to provide to the Customs Authorities, a valid End User Certificate issued by the relevant government authority.
Furthermore, an exemption from import authorization is granted for the import of IT hardware for repair, return, or replacement of items previously sold, as well as the re-import of such items that were repaired abroad. This can be done on a self-certification basis. Previously, there was a cap limiting the import in this regard to 20 items.
DGFT vide Policy circular No. 06/2023-24 has provided the following clarification in respect of import of the aforementioned IT hardware:
SEZ units and EOUs/EHTP/STPI/BTP are not required to obtain a ‘import authorization’ for import of IT hardware. This exemption is allowed only when the import is for the purpose of captive consumption by the concerned importing unit(s).
There are no import restrictions on spares, parts, assemblies, sub-assemblies, components, and other inputs necessary for the IT hardware devices as specified under Notification 23/2023.
IT hardware items that are deemed essential for capital goods are exempt from import licensing requirements. For instance, laptops and tablets accompanying machinery like MRI machines, CNC machines, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), etc., fall under these exemptions. However, if servers or laptops themselves constitute the primary capital goods, this exemption does not apply.
The importers are allowed to apply for multiple authorizations. The authorizations issued would be valid up to 30th September 2024.
It is also clarified that, subsequent to the issuance of an import authorization, the quantity as mentioned may also be amended at any point, subject to the overall value of the import authorization remaining unchanged. The application for amendment may be filed online on the DGFT Website.