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TFI - Trade Fairs International - The International Trade Fair Magazine

TFI Know-how

How do you transport trade fair exhibits to India?

Photo: Ulrich Kasimir


Ulrich Kasimir

Head of Fair & Exhibition / Speciality Transport
Schenker Deutschland AG

National laws and regulations need to be complied with when importing exhibit materials to India – regardless of whether the goods are imported on a permanent or temporary basis.    
Temporary importation
If two requirements are met, importing exhibits to India is simple: Firstly, deadlines need to be met and secondly the information provided in all the necessary import documents must comply with the shipment. For example, one of the most important documents is the ITPO Approval. This is the confirmation of the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), which the exhibitor will receive from the trade fair organiser. With this confirmation he can apply for an ATA carnet from the relevant chamber of commerce in Germany, a customs document that will accelerate customs clearance for the temporary importation of exhibits. A further - albeit more time-consuming - option is to obtain a bank guarantee for temporary importation. A copy of the confirmation of participation (from the organiser) is obligatory for importing exhibits on a temporary basis.  

Permanent importation
As a rule, goods intended for permanent importation should be packed separately from goods that are declared as temporary imports. This includes brochures or free give-aways, for example. The important thing is to comply with import bans. Exhibitors should not try to import products of a high quality or foodstuffs for consumption to India.   The sale of goods imported on a temporary basis after the show is possible if you obtain the customs authorities' consent. Until the end of sales negotiations the entire shipment is stored in the customs warehouse.  

Necessary time buffers
Since India has a weaker infrastructure than Germany, time buffers should be included in your transport plans. In the past ships sometimes experienced tailbacks in the sea ports. And a sufficient amount of time should be scheduled for connecting transport from the port by rail to inland container terminals. Additionally, possible strikes – e.g. of dockers – may lead to delays. Co-ordinated with customs one should create an exact schedule for shipping well in advance. Depending on the available time frame and budget the exhibitor can decide whether to transport the goods by air or sea. Depending on the mode of transport there are certain deadlines to be met. The exact transport volume of an air cargo shipment should be notified at least four weeks before stand delivery. Documents are created and agreed with the receiving forwarding agent. Three weeks before stand delivery the consignment is collected in Germany. At the latest ten working days before the envisaged arrival date at the fair it is delivered to the customs terminal for the destination in India.

Photo: India Tourism
To save time, exhibition forwarding agents use faster means of transport in India.

Required documents
Exhibitors will be told in advance by the exhibition logistics provider what specific features require attention in the shipping documents in the form of detailed guidelines that are easy to understand. Depending on the required document the service provider will support exhibitors by offering sample documents. Forms for trade invoices or sample stickers for goods can be provided to customers on request. Only when all documents have been submitted completely and correctly, can the exhibition logistics provider ensure a smooth handling and fast customs clearance. Delays may give rise to storage costs ("demurrage charges") at the airport or sea port.  

Practical advice
For temporary customs clearance serial numbers must, in all events, be stamped onto the products in the case of machinery or electronic devices. These serial numbers must also be specified in the documents. When shipping goods in closed containers it should be ensured that duplicate keys are attached to the shipping documents in order to allow customs free access for inspection. It is not advisable to transport exhibits or product catalogues to India in your hand luggage unless you want to risk delays in entering the country or a confiscation by customs officers.  
One-stop provider
It is advantageous to use a service provider with a world-wide network and own (trade fair) branches in India. By doing so the exhibitor can avoid too many external interfaces – the data, documents and shipment remain in one hand throughout the entire transport chain.

This article was published in TFI issue 2/2012