It is important for every importer to ask for a sample before making a confirmed order from the overseas supplier. Samples of goods are the same as shown or demonstrated for customer appreciation and familiarization for soliciting orders for goods to be supplied. A sample helps the importers to analyze the quality of products and they can also match the samples with their specifications. In any case, if supplier does not give the final products same as samples the importers can cancel the whole order.
A commercial samples shows that the final products which will be delivered to the importer are the same as samples. The bona fide trade samples can be imported provided the proposed products have been supplied free of charge. Samples include all types of goods i.e. consumer goods, consumer durables, prototypes of engineering goods or goods used in connection with securing export orders. In the same way, high equipment, machineries together with agricultural machinery and their accessories can also be imported. Samples of Prohibited items cannot be imported.
Trade, industry, individuals, Companies, Associations, Research Institutes or Laboratories can be importing the samples. These can also be brought by the representatives of manufacturers abroad either as a part of their personal baggage or through post or courier. Samples can also be sent by manufacturers/ traders abroad to above parties in India.
In November, 1952 a convention to facilitate the Importation of Commercial Samples and Advertising Materials was concluded in Geneva. India was participated in it and has accepted its recommendation and implemented its provisions through Notifications. According to this import of genuine commercial samples of goods is free from import duties.
Items which are prohibited under Foreign Trade (Development and Regulations) Act, 1992 are not permitted to be import as samples. For example, wild animals, wild birds and parts of wild animals and birds, ivory, weapons (revolvers, pistols and hand guns) and ammunitions and Narcotic drugs.
For the duty free clearance of the bonafide trade samples, the total import value of samples does not exceed Rs. 60,000 or 15 units in number, within the period of the last twelve months and value of individual sample should not exceed Rs. 5000/-. Though, the prototypes of engineering goods can be imported up to a value of Rs. 10,000/- without payment of duty as long as the goods are rendered useless as merchandise by a suitable process. An importer also undertakes that he would not sell these goods and if he sells he will pay the duty chargeable on those goods.
Though, high value machinery products, which are the prototypes of engineering goods can be imported up to a value of Rs. 10,000/- without payment of duty as long as the goods are rendered useless as merchandise by a suitable process. If the value exceeds Rs.10, 000/-, the same have to be re-exported within a period of nine months. However, the Assistant Commissioner of Customs may under special circumstances extend the period of 9 months for a further reasonable period. But the high valued samples are cleared only after depositing duty with Customs. Importers have to give an undertaking for their re-export within nine months.
The amount of duty to be deposited would a maximum of 110% of the whole of duties of Customs chargeable on the said goods if it is imported by any importer. However, the importer has the option of giving a Bank Guarantee from a reputed bank. The deposited duty is refunded when the machinery is exported back.
In case the high value machinery import only for the demonstration purpose then, on the request of importer necessary precautions are taken by the custom authority. The Customs authority may seal the machinery during its journey from the port of importation of the place of demonstration and it is unsealed only at the place of operation or place of demonstration.