The clearance of goods on Import or Export, including unaccompanied baggage, involves quite a
lot of procedural formalities under Section 46, 47, 50, 51 etc., These formalities have to be
observed by Importer / Exporter / Passenger, as the case may be. But in most cases the Customs station would be far away and it may not be possible for the Importer / Exporter / Passenger to attend to such work promptly. Unlike the work related to Central Excise or Income Tax, the Customs formalities cannot be attended to leisurely, as clearance is allowed only after the completion of formalities and payment of duty, where due. To meet this situation, a provision for licensing Custom House Agents, to represent the Importer / Exporter for the clearance
work, has been made in the Customs Act 1962. Even prior to 1962, such as Muccadams, Dalals,
Baggage Agents, Clearance Agents etc.
In terms of Section 146, the Board (Central Board of Excise and Customs) has issued certain
Regulations known as Custom House Agents Licensing Regulation 1984 laying down the conditions and procedures to be followed. The extent of liability of the agents is indicated in Section 147.
A person, who desires to become a Custom House Agent, has to make an application, in the
prescribed form. When such applications are invited by the Commissioner of Customs under Rule 5.
Initially only a temporary licence, valid for two years is issued (Rule 8). To be eligible
to make this application, the person should have experience in the line for at least one year
and should have assets to the extent of Rs.1 lakh (Rule 6). He has also to execute a bond with
security for Rs.25,000/-. The temporary licence can be made a regular licence on his passing a
qualifying examination (Rule 9) within a period of two years. The regular licence (Under Rule
10) is issued for five years, and can be renewed thereafter on payment of a fee of Rs.3,000/-
for further period of three years.
The most important part of the Customs House Agents Regulations is Rule 14, which lays down
the obligations of Customs House Agents, as under.
obtain an authorisation from each of the companies, firms or individuals by whom he is, for
the time being, employed as Customs House Agent and produce such authorisation whenever
required by an Assistant Commissioner of Customs;
transact business in the Customs Station either personally or through an employee duly
approved by the Assistant Commissioner of Customs, designated by the Commissioner;
does not represent a client before an officer of Customs in any matter to which he, as an
officer of the Department of Customs gave personal consideration, or as to the facts of which
he gained knowledge, while in Government service;
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;
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;
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;
promptly pay over to the Government, when due, sums received for payment of any duty, tax or
other debt or obligations owed to the Government and promptly account to his client for funds
received for 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;
does 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
not attempt to influence the conduct of any official of the Customs Station in any matter
pending before such an 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 thing of value;
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 which is sought or may be
sought by the Commissioner;
maintain records and accounts in such a form and manner as may be directedfrom time to time by an Asst. Commissioner of Customs and submit them for inspection to the
said Asst. Commissioner of Customs or an officer authorisedby him whenever required; ensure that all documents prepared or presented by him or on his behalf are strictly in
accordance with orders relating thereto;
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 may be, and the name of
the Customs House Agent, prominently, at the top of such documents;
in the event of the licence granted to him being lost, immediately report the fact to the
ensure that he discharges his duties as Customs Hose Agent with utmostspeed and efficiency and without avoidable delay;
and not charge for his services as Customs House Agent in excess of the ratesapproved by the Commissioner from time to time under Regulation 25.
It should be noticed that the above 'obligations' cover not only certain procedural aspects,
but also a Customs House Agents' conduct and character. Any lapse on the part of Custom House Agent or violation of any rule can invite action which might result in suspension or revocation of licence under Rule 21.
A Custom House Agent has to be not only well informed of the Customs laws and procedures and documentation, but has to be alert all the time, closely following the instructions or change
in the public notices, issued from time to time. His is a very peculiar position in that,
though he is employed by the Importers/Exporters, he is licensed by the department and hence
he can satisfy them only to the extent the law permits and within the procedures laid down by
the Customs House. He has, accordingly, to function under two masters, the tax payer and tax
collector, both simultaneously satisfactorily.
A Customs House Agent can attend to the Custom work himself or employ persons to assist him,
but after obtaining necessary permission from the Asst. Commissioner of Customs. Such
assistants appointed by Custom House Agents will have to pass an examination conducted by the Asst. Commissioner of Customs within six months from the date of such appointment.
The charges levied by Custom House Agents from the Client should be at such rates as notified
by the Commissioner from time to time which is done under Rule 25(b). The same rule, sub
section (2) requires that Customs House Agents should enrol as members of the registered
Custom House Agents Association of the Port.
How to become a Customs House Agent (CHA)?
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