For importing / exporting goods from India, a person needs to obtain an importer exporter code no. ('IEC') allotted by Director General of Foreign Trade ('DGFT').
However, whether IEC is required when a person is doing only one time import/ export?
Answer to this question is 'YES'. IEC is required for all exports and imports in India by a person. However, certain categories of persons have been exempted from requirement of IEC (including individuals) and have been allotted default permanent IEC by DGFT:
Sr. No. Permanent IEC Categories of Importer / Exporter
Persons / Institutions / Hospitals importing or exporting goods for personnel use, not connected with trade or manufacture or agriculture.
Indians returning from / going abroad and claiming benefit under Baggage Rules i.e. people returning from abroad and bringing goods with them
All Ministries / Departments of Central Government and agencies wholly or partially owned by them.
All Ministries / Departments of any State Government and agencies wholly or partially owned by them.
Diplomatic personnel, Counselor officers in India and officials of UNO and its specialised agencies.
Persons importing / exporting goods from / to Nepal.
Persons importing / exporting goods from / to Myanmar through Indo-Myanmar border areas.
Importers importing goods for display or use in fairs / exhibitions or similar events under provisions of ATA carnet. This IEC number can also be used by importers importing for exhibitions/fairs as per Para 2.29 of HBP vol1 of Foreign Trade Policy of India.
Individuals / Charitable Institution / Registered NGOs importing goods, which have been exempted from Customs duty under Notification issued by Ministry of Finance for bonafide use by victims affected by natural calamity.
Thus individuals importing goods for personal use need not obtain IEC from DGFT and can use default IEC as mentioned above.
Further, in case of imports through courier, courier agencies use their own IEC for filing of declarations to Customs and IEC of importer is not required in such a case.