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Import Export code (IEC) application under GST regime

Introduction: This article discusses in detail about application for Import Export code(IEC) application under GST regime.

Query: We applied for IEC in the month of July 2017 & paid the fee but we didn’t submitted documents. Before submitting document, a notification came saying that now PAN will be IEC. So do we still need to submit documents? If yes, how to submit documents?

Ans.   The Government of India has taken another step for ease of doing business.

Now, no IEC code shall be required for Import/Export, as decided by the government via notification.

This notification is below:

Government of India
Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Directorate General of Foreign Trade

Udyog Bhawan, New Delhi
Dated 12.06.2017

Trade Notice No.  09

1.  All IEC holders/applicants
2.  All EPCs / All Chambers of Trade and Industries
4.  All RA’s of DGFT
5.  All field formations of Customs


Sub: Changes in IEC with the introduction of GST-regd.

The Foreign Trade (Development & Regulation) Act, 1992 provides that no person shall make any import or export except under an Importer Exporter Code (IEC) number, granted by the Director General of Foreign Trade or the officer authorized by the Director General in this behalf. Further, Para 2.05 of the FTP, 2015-20 lays down that IEC, a 10 digit number, is mandatory for undertaking any import export activities, while Para 2.08 of the HBP (2015-20) lays down the procedure to be followed for obtaining an IEC, which is PAN based. As on date PAN has one to one correlation with IEC.

2.   With the implementation of the GST w.e.f. (the notified date), GSTIN would be used for purposes of (i) credit flow of IGST on import of goods, and (ii) refund or rebate of IGST related to export of goods. Registration No. under GST, called GSTIN, is a 15-digit alpha numeric code with PAN prefixed by State Code and suffixed by 3 digit details of business verticals of the PAN holder. As GSTIN will be used for the purposes mentioned above, it thereby assumes importance as identifier at the transaction level. In view of this, it has been decided that importer/exporter would need to declare only GSTIN (wherever registered with GSTN) at the time of import and export of goods. The PAN level aggregation of data would automatically happen in the system.

3.   Since obtaining GSTIN is not compulsory for all importers / exporters below a threshold limit of turnover, all exporters / importers may not register with GSTIN [barring compulsory registration in certain cases as provided in section 24 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (12 of 2017) or in cases where either credit is claimed of IGST], therefore, GSTIN cannot become universal, as IEC is for import/export business. Further, DGFT recognizes only the corporate entity (single identity) and not individual transactions.

4.   As a measure of ease of doing business, it has been decided to keep the identity of an entity uniform across the Ministries/Departments. Henceforth (with the implementation of GST), PAN of an entity will be used for the purpose of IEC, i.e., IEC will be issued by DGFT with the difference that it will be alpha numeric (instead of 10 digit numeric at present) and will be same as PAN of an entity. For new applicants, w.e.f. the notified date, application for IEC will be made to DGFT and applicant’s PAN will be authorized as IEC. For residuary categories under Para 2.07 of HBP 2015-20, the IEC will be either UIN issued by GSTN and authorized by DGFT or any common number to be notified by DGFT.

5.   Further, for the existing IEC holders, necessary changes in the system are being carried out by DGFT so that their PAN becomes their IEC. DGFT system will undertake this migration and the existing IEC holders are not required to undertake any additional exercise in this regard. IEC holders are required to quote their PAN (in place of existing IEC) in all their future documentation, w.e.f. the notified date. The legacy data which is based on IEC would be converted into PAN based in due course of time.


(S.P. Roy)
Joint Director General of Foreign Trade
Telefax: 23062240


As a result, the importer/exporters need NOT apply for separate IEC code for import/Export in India. As per the latest trade circular by the DGFT, the PAN shall be construed as new IEC code for the purpose of import and export and the DGFT department shall also issue the new IEC code as your PAN number only.


Let us read and understand the trade notice in detail:

1. IEC code means Import Export Code. As per the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) in India, every importer and exporter is required to get IEC code to start Import export from India. Without IEC code, no importer and exporter are authorised to do import export business.

2. As per the trade circular, there are two kinds of categories to be dealt with:

A. Person registered under GST

B. Person not registered under GST

IEC Code for Person Registered under GST

As per the Trade circular, if you are registered for GST, then GSTIN number may be used for the purpose of import and export in India. However, to maintain uniformity, the department has agreed that PAN should be used as a IEC number and not the GSTIN number. Also, for new applicants, the application shall be sent to DGFT department and the department shall issue the IEC number as your PAN number only.

Further, the existing IEC holder, the department is making required changes to the system so that the PAN number can be accepted as the IEC code.

IEC Code for Person not registered under GST

For persons who are not required to register under GST, the PAN number shall work as a IEC code. Further, for all new applicants who are not required to register under GST, the application shall be made to DGFT and applicant’s PAN will be authorised as IEC.

Status of Existing IEC holder

The DGFT is taking the responsibility to make necessary changes in the system so that the PAN of existing IEC holder will become their new IEC code.

So in reply to subject query, application for allotment IEC code has to be made to DGFT even if IEC will  be same as PAN only.

Application shall be made online & the relevant shall be uploaded after logging in to the website