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If you are running a business in India, you would be familiar with the different business licences required to operate seamlessly and stay compliant. You would however be requiring a special licence if you want to import goods or export internationally to expand your reach. What you need is an IEC Code or importer-exporter code. IEC code number is essential for anyone looking at global business opportunities and serves as your business’s identity internationally.

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We’ll take a closer look at the IEC code meaning, how to apply for IEC code number, who issues IEC code, validity, benefits and how the import export code allows you to legally conduct international trade.

What is IEC code?

So, what is the meaning of IEC Code?

IEC code or Importer-Exporter Code is a unique 10-digit number issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. You will require specific business documents to apply for the code. It’s issued on the basis of your PAN, in an electronic format (e-IEC).

To conduct international trade as an Indian business owner, you will require the IEC number to ensure compliance in export-import business.

If your business is GST registered, then the GSTIN can be used as your IEC identifier.

Also read: How to start an export import business in India?

Why is IEC code important?

As explained, if you want to conduct export import business from India, you will need an IEC number. There are however specific exemption cases, apart from which, all businesses keen to conduct international business will need the import export code licence.

Listed below are some of the benefits of Importer Exporter code:

  • It’s the only way you can expand your business across international markets and conduct export-import trade
  • Unlike GST returns filing, you do not have to file for IEC
  • With an IEC registration you can reap the benefits of several government schemes such as, RoSCTL scheme, MEIS, etc.

How to apply for IEC code in India?

An important thing to keep in mind is that any business or individual can apply for and get the IEC code for doing overseas trade. A PAN card, bank account, and physical address is required for IEC application.

If you are a service exporter and want to avail benefits under the Foreign Trade Policy, an IEC code will be required.

On that note, let’s take a look at the import export code online registration and application process.

Step-by-step guide to Importer Exporter code registration:

  • Visit the DGFT website and click on ‘IEC Profile Management’ under ‘Services’ in the menu
  • Click on ‘Apply for IEC’ to begin the process: dgft.gov.in/CP/?opt=iec-profile-management
  • Select ‘Register’ as you have to register your business
  • Update the details in the IEC application form (note all fields are mandatory and marked as *) – Register user as, first name, last name, email, mobile number, pincode, district, state, city
  • Enter the captcha and check the box for terms and conditions
  • Click on ‘Send OTP’ for getting OTP for verification on email/mobile
  • Verify the same and wait for the password (temporary)
  • Login using the credentials, set new password, and select ‘Apply IEC’

Once the registration process is complete, you can proceed to applying for IEC number.

Step-by-step guide for Importer Exporter code application:

  • Click on ‘Start fresh application’
  • Fill in the various fields – Nature of firm, firm name, PAN, Name as per PAN database, Date of birth/incorporation, category of exporters, whether firm is located in SEZ, GSTIN number, business email id, etc.
  • Upload documents as requested and DSC – E.g, proof of registration/incorporation (up to 5MB file size, PDF only)
  • Pay the requested IEC code fees
  • Check email for IEC code certificate

How to download and print the IEC certificate?

You can take a printout or download the IEC certificate in two ways:

  • Check your email for the certificate. The IEC certificate will be sent to your registered email address. You can download or print the certificate.
  • Download the certificate from the website by clicking ‘Print IEC’ under Profile Management tab.

IEC registration fee – Is IEC registration free?

IEC registration is a paid service. An applicant will have to pay a fee of ₹500 during IEC application.

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It is not a free service and application to IEC costs ₹500 to be paid during application. Once the fees are paid, you will get an acknowledgement message on payment success.

You can track the status of the same. Once the application is processed, the IEC certificate will be sent to the registered email address.

What are the documents required for IEC registration?

The list of IEC registration documents are as follows:

  • PAN card – Individual’s or firm’s that’s applying
  • Proof of establishment or incorporation document
  • Applicant’s identify card – Passport, Aadhaar, Voter’s card
  • Proof of address for business/individual
  • Bank account details (e.g., cancelled cheque)

How long is IEC registration valid?

An IEC code comes with lifetime validity. However, all are expected to update it annually to keep it relevant and active.

Tentatively, all IEC details should be updated every year to avoid it from being de-activated. It can be re-activated upon details being updated.

Ideally, between April and June of every year, all IEC certificate holders must update their details.

Is a DSC required for IEC application?

If you have a Digital Signature Certificate, you can use it for IEC code application.

Alternatively, you can use Aadhaar authentication for IEC application.

As a MSME business owner, if you are looking to accelerate business growth, make sure you register with Tata nexarca B2B platform for MSMEs. We have partnered with leading services providers and offer affordable solutions for you. You can buy steel at competitive prices, ship PTL packages with our logistics services, and more. Explore now.

*This article is for informational purposes only. Readers are required to check the official DGFT website or seek expert advice for further guidance.

Sohini Banerjee

Sohini is a seasoned content writer with 12 years’ experience in developing marketing and business content across multiple formats. At Tata nexarc, she leverages her skills in crafting curated content on the Indian MSME sector, steel procurement, and logistics. In her personal time, she enjoys reading fiction and being up-to-date on trends in digital marketing and the Indian business ecosystem.