The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is gearing up to activate its import management system for registration of laptops, computers, and tablets from November 1, as there may be no further postponement of the government’s decision to switch to an import authorisation system beyond October 31, sources have said.

However, the registration process will be “simple and non-restrictive” to begin with. Importers will be required to just register on the DGFT’s system, specifying the quantity they intend to import, following which they will be issued import authorisation for the same, an official tracking the matter told businessline.

“The industry seems to be aligned with the government’s decision to initiate the registration process. As of now, the DGFT is preparing to start the import management system for the import of laptops and computers from November 1. There is no communication from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) suggesting any postponement,” the official said.

Registration window

The window for registration of importers will be opened about ten days prior to the mandated switch to the new system, and the process will not take more than two to three days, the official added.

“Initially, authorisation will be issued for whatever quantity the industry wants to import. The norm is that once an authorisation is issued, it remains valid for a year. The DGFT and MeitY can together take a final call on the validity period,” the official said.

However, at some point later, if MeitY wants to place quota restrictions, there will be a need to scrutinise the total value of imports, and an authorisation system would need to be put in place, he added.

The DGFT issued a notification on August 3 this year imposing licencing conditions on imports of laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs, and ultra-small form-factor computers and servers applicable with immediate effect.

MeitY had said the process would address India’s security concerns as IT hardware items could be bugged. A large part of the $7-8 billion of laptops, tablets, and computers imported annually into the country comes from China, which, too, could be monitored.

Imposing licensing curbs could also promote local manufacturing of the items, many of which are covered under the Production-Linked Incentive Scheme.

The Centre, however, decided to postpone implementation by about three months, until October 31, following protests from the industry. The US and the EU, too, took up the concerns of their industry with the Commerce and Industry Ministry.

Following extensive discussions between MeitY and the IT hardware industry, it was decided to initially go in for only a simple registration process which would result in the issuance of import authorisation, and not call the system a licencing process which appears restrictive.