How to Start an Import Export Business in India

india flag button image by Andrey Zyk from

Any country will have the need to export or import goods. If you have planned to start an import/export business, you will need to identify the goods and their respective destinations efficiently in order to succeed in this business. You will need to have a good knowledge about the international markets and economy, the necessary terms and conditions existing in various countries and the necessary documents to submit in India.

Decide the type of goods that needs to be exported from India and those that needs to be imported into India. India excels in agricultural products, textile products, apparels, chemicals, jewelries and home furnishing goods. You can import automated systems, new technologies in automobiles, computers or mobile phones into India. Determine these items by identifying the need in your area, your potential clients and performing a catalogue analysis from the Indian embassy web site on line or contacting the Indian Consulate.

Determine the type of import/export business that you need to start in India. It may be an export management company, export trading company or an import/export merchant. Choose the type based on your budget and your requirements.

Obtain an Importer Exporter Code (IEC) from the Directorate of General Foreign Trade (DGFT), New Delhi. The IEC form can be downloaded on line from their web site or obtained in person from Zonal DGFT office and submitted on line. The application may cost around Rs.1000 (around $22 as of late August, 2010).

Contact the taxation department to obtain a Registration Number.

Choose a list of manufacturers for the determined products based on their prices, quality and contract terms. Contact them and market your services. Be aware of all the terms so you can negotiate better ones if necessary.

In case of high-risk products, obtain the respective licenses. There are no licensing requirements for normal products. But products such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, arms, liquor, certain food items and apparels need special permits specific to the product that are obtained from the Indian government.

Make a note of the embargoes that exist against other countries by India. Contact the Embassy of India or the Consulate to clarify the current trade barriers.

Obtain credit insurance to manage your trade receivables. This creates risk prevention, debt recovery and payment of claims. Contact the Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India Limited (ECGC) for more details. You can obtain letters of credit to avoid high risks.

Start your import/export business and market your services.


About the Author

Alexander Cequea has been writing since 2008. He is an activist, speaker and film producer whose work has been featured in "Enlightennext Magazine" and the Environmental News Network. Cequea is currently producing a documentary about sustainability and consciousness. He has a Master of Business Administration in sustainable business from Maharashi University.

Photo Credits

  • india flag button image by Andrey Zyk from