STE policy items


Basic information


Outline of the system

Import licensing regime in India is administered by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. The Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020, was notified in the Gazette of India vide Notification No.01/2015-2020 dated 1 April 2015 and subsequently revised and notified vide Notification No. 41/2015-2020 dated 5 December, 2017. The category of imports under the current Foreign Trade Policy consists of: (i) prohibited items, import of which are normally not allowed, (ii) restricted items, imports of which are allowed against an authorisation or in accordance with a public notice which indicates the conditions under which the items can be imported, (iii) those under state trading enterprises (STE) policy, the imports of which are permitted only through the designated STEs, and (iv) those which can be freely imported.


Product coverage

(iii) those under state trading enterprises (STE) policy, the imports of which are permitted only through the designated STEs

The policy and procedures governing imports of various items is given in the Foreign Trade Policy which is valid for a specified period. The Handbook of Procedures is also published to supplement the Foreign Trade Policy.

Importability of an individual item can be determined as per the policy indicated against such item in the ITC (HS) Classifications of Export and Import Items. This compilation adopts the internationally accepted Harmonized System (HS) of Commodity Classifications as adopted by the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC), Brussels. The code classification adopted is at the eight-digit level so as to provide a distinct existence to certain products. This publication is very helpful in ascertaining the import policy of various products as covered by the respective Exim Codes in different Chapters.

Nature of licensing



If Automatic, administrative purpose



If Non-Automatic, description of the notified Non-Automatic Licensing regime


Products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports

In respect of certain items, the conditions for import have been specified in a general way in public notices issued for this purpose.


Questions for products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports

See Answers 6.1-6.11


The system applies to products originating from which country?

All of India's trading partners receive equal treatment in the issue of import authorisations.


Expected duration of licensing procedure

Eligibility of applicants


Is there a system of registration of persons or firms permitted to engage in importation?


What persons or firms are eligible to apply for a licence?

All eligible persons, firms and institutions can apply for an authorisation provided they hold a valid importer/exporter code number (IEC)


Is there a registration fee?


Is there a published list of authorized importers?

Contact point for information on eligibility










E-mail address




Contact officer

Submission of an application


Administrative body(ies) for submission of an application

Documentation requirements


What information is required in applications?


What documents is the importer required to supply with the application?

Window of submission of an application


How far in advance of importation must application for a licence be made?

The authorisations are valid for goods already shipped/arrived at the customs' ports but not already cleared by customs.


Are there any limitations as to the period of the year during which application for licence can be made? If so, explain


Issuing the license


Can a licence be granted immediately on request?

Yes, if the applicant fulfils the legal requirements


Can licences be obtained within a shorter time-limit or for goods arriving at the port without a licence

The authorisations are valid for goods already shipped/arrived at the customs' ports but not already cleared by customs.


Which administrative body is responsible for approving application of licences?

The importer has to approach the DGFT for an import authorisation.


Must the applications be passed on to other organs for visa, note or approval?

The applicants need not approach other authorities for a visa note or approval. Only single administrative clearance is required.


Are there any other conditions attached to the issue of a licence?

Fees and other administrative charges


Is there any licensing fee or administrative charge?



What is the amount of the fee or charge?

Details of fee are given in Appendix 2-K of Foreign Trade Policy which is available at DGFT's website


Is there any deposit or advance payment required associated with the issue of licences?

There is no deposit or advance payment requirement associated with the issue of import authorisations.


Amount or rate?


Is it refundable?


What is the period of retention?


What is the purpose of this requirement?

Refusal of an application


Under what circumstances may an application for a licence be refused other than failure to meet the ordinary criteria?

The licensing authority may refuse to grant an import authorisation:
i. if the applicant has contravened any law relating to customs or foreign exchange;
ii. if it has been decided by the Central Government to import through State Trading Enterprises and distribution thereof through special or specialized agencies;
iii. if any action against the applicant is pending under the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992, or rules and orders made thereunder;
iv. if the applicant fails to pay any penalty imposed on him under the said Act; and
v. if the applicant is not eligible for an authorisation in accordance with any provisions of the Export and Import Policy.


Are the reasons for any refusal given to applicants?


Have applicants a right of appeal in the event of refusal to issue a licence?

Paragraph 2.14 of the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) (2015-2020) clearly mentions that no person may claim an authorisation as a right and the DGFT or its Regional Authorities have the power to refuse to grant or renew the same.


If so, to what bodies and under what procedures?

However, as per paragraph 2.59 of the FTP, the DGFT has a Citizen's Charter and also a Grievance Redressal Mechanism to address the grievances of exporters and importers. The details are available on the DGFT's website:



Are there any limitations as to the period of year during which importation may be made?



What documents are required upon actual importation?

The documents required upon actual importation are
- import authorisation,
- shipping documents,
- commercial invoices,
- Pre-shipment Inspection Certificate, if the import policy mandates so
- Phyto-sanitary Certificate, if the import policy mandates so
- Certificate of origin, if the import policy mandates so.


Are there any other administrative procedures, apart from import licensing and similar administrative procedures, required prior to importation?


Conditions of licensing


What is the period of validity of a licence? Can the validity be extended? How?

As per paragraph 2.16 of the Handbook of Procedures, 2015-2020, an import authorisation shall normally be endorsed with a period of validity of 18 months. The authorisation may be revalidated for a period of six months by the licensing authority on merit.


Is there any penalty for the non-utilization of a licence or a portion of a licence?



Are licences transferable between importers? If so, are any limitations or conditions attached to such transfer?


Foreign Exchange


Is foreign exchange automatically provided by the banking authorities for goods to be imported?

Yes. There is no restriction on foreign exchange for import. Foreign exchange is provided by the authorized dealers for the import of goods.


Is a licence required as a condition to obtaining foreign exchange?


Is foreign exchange always available to cover licences issued?

Normal banking procedures apply for obtaining foreign exchange.


What formalities must be fulfilled for obtaining the foreign exchange?

Normal banking procedures apply for obtaining foreign exchange.

The following questions are only for products under restriction as to the quantity or value of imports (whether applicable globally or to a limited number of countries or whether established bilaterally or unilaterally)


Where is information on allocation and formalities for licences published? Is the overall amount published? The amount allocated to goods from each country? The maximum amount allocated to each importer? How to request any exceptions or derogations from the licensing requirement?

A quota system is generally not adopted. However, wherever quotas are maintained, they are on MFN basis. The quantity and value of imports to be made from different countries are not published as all countries receive MFN status. The import of maize (feed grade) is subject to a TRQ allocated to eligible STEs as per para 2.61 HBP 2015-20. [DGFT Trade Notice No.25 of 9 July 2019; DGFT Trade Notice No.33/2019-2020 of 19 September 2019].


Is the size of the quota determined: on yearly, six-monthly or quarterly basis? Are there cases where the size of quota is determined on a yearly basis but licences are issued for imports on a six-monthly or quarterly basis? In the latter case, is it necessary for importers to apply for a fresh licence on a six-monthly or quarterly basis?


Are licences allocated for certain goods partly or only to domestic producers of like goods? What steps are taken to ensure that licences allocated are actually used for imports? Are unused allocations added to quotas for a succeeding period? Are names of importers to whom licences have been allocated made known to governments and export promotion bodies of exporting countries upon request? If not, for what reason? (Indicate products to which replies relate)

This question is partly relevant only in cases where a quota system is maintained as in paragraph 6.I.


From the time of announcing the opening of quotas, as indicated in I above, what is the period of time allowed for the submission of applications for licences?

Where the quotas are to be allotted, detailed procedure and timelines is laid out in the relevant Notification/Public Notices.


What are the minimum and maximum lengths of time for processing applications?

The application for specific authorisations mentioned in paragraph 2 above are processed after clearance by the Exim Facilitation Committee as per the prescribed time schedule mentioned in the relevant Notification/Public Notices issued.


How much time remains, at a minimum, between the granting of licences and the date of opening of the period of importation?

Import authorisations, wherever required are issued with a specified period of validity, generally 18 months for shipment of goods. It is up to the importer to import goods at any time during the validity period of the import authorisation.


Is consideration of licence applications effected by a single administrative organ? Or must the application be passed on to other organs for visa, note or approval? If so, which? Does the importer have to approach more than one administrative organ?

There is a single administrative organ for considering these applications. Import authorisation applications may be submitted online through the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Website. The applications are now considered by an Exim Facilitation Committee, wherever necessary, constituted for this purpose.


If the demand for licences cannot be fully satisfied, on what basis is the allocation to applicants made? First come, first served? Past performance? Is there a maximum amount to be allocated per applicant and if so, on what basis is it determined? What provision is made for new importers? Are applications examined simultaneously or on receipt?

The import of restricted list items is allowed on technical criteria fixed by the Exim Facilitation Committee. There is no maximum limit to be allocated per applicant.


In the case of bilateral quotas or export restraint arrangements where export permits are issued by exporting countries, are import licences also required? If so, are licences issued automatically?

Applications for import of items under Preferential or MFN Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) scheme shall be submitted online through e-Tariff Rate Quota process under the Import Management System, on the DGFT website. The online procedure for applications of TRQ imports has been notified vide DGFT Trade Notice No.40/2020-2021 dated 4 February 2021. The request for TRQs is invited vide specific Trade Notices published on the DGFT Website from time to time. The allocation made is published on the DGFT website.


In cases where imports are allocated on the basis of export permits only, how is the importing country informed of the effect given by the exporting countries to the understanding between the two countries?

Import of specified capital goods, raw materials and components from United States of America (USA) is subject to US Export Control Regulation, and US suppliers of such items are required to obtain an export authorization based on import certificate issued in India.


Are there products for which licences are issued on condition that goods should be exported and not sold in the domestic market?

The authorisations mentioned in paragraph 6.II above are issued with Actual User Conditions, where applicable. Where authorisation is subject to Actual User Conditions, the goods imported cannot be sold in the domestic market except, as per the provisions of FTP, 2015-2020.