Export/Import Updates!
April 11, 2021

AD Code: What Is It And Why Do You Need It For Your Export Business?

If you are an exporter in India, you might be aware of the two most important permits you need to send your goods out of the country. The first is an Import Export Code (IEC), a business identification number issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). The second is an Authorised Dealer Code (AD Code), without which you cannot complete customs clearance of your goods.

In this quick and complete guide to the AD Code, we will be touching upon its importance in the export business in India. Read on to find out:

  • What is an AD Code?
  • Why does an exporter need an AD Code?
  • How do you apply for an AD Code?
  • How do you register your AD Code with customs?
  • Can you modify an AD Code?

What is an AD Code?

An AD Code is a 14-digit numerical code you can get from the bank with which you have a current account to run your import-export business. The code comes printed on a document with the bank’s letterhead, in a format prescribed by the DGFT. A bank must deal in or be an authorised dealer of foreign currency in order to be able to grant an AD Code. This is in line with the purpose behind an AD Code, which is to ensure that foreign currency transactions in an exporter’s current account are from legal trade.    

Exporters must register their AD Code with the port or airport from where they intend to ship their goods abroad. If the shipment is to be dispatched from an inland container depot (ICD), AD Code registration is required for that facility as well as the port attached to it. For example, if you ship from ICD Khodiyar in Ahmedabad, you will need to register there as well as at Mundra port in Gujarat and/or Nhava Sheva in Maharashtra as the cargo will be routed through either of these ports.

An AD Code registration has a lifetime validity. However, if an exporter ships from more than one port, whether in the same state or in different states, they must register the AD Code for each of these ports. In such a scenario, the AD Code for each of these ports will be different.

What is an AD Code

Why does an exporter need an AD Code?

An AD Code is absolutely essential to the export process for the following reasons:

  • A Shipping Bill is one of three mandatory documents required for export customs clearance. And without an AD Code registration, you cannot generate a Shipping Bill on Icegate, Indian Customs’ electronic data interchange platform.
  • An AD Code registration with customs ensures that any government benefits you avail of – duty rebates and exemptions, GST (Goods and Services Tax) refunds, etc – are credited directly to your current account.    

How do you apply for an AD Code?

You can approach your bank with which you have a current account and request an AD Code. Your application should be in this format:

To,

The Manager,

(Bank name),

(Branch name),

(Address and contact number)

Subject: Request for AD Code

Dear Sir/Madam,

I, holder of current account (number) at the (branch name) of (bank name), wish to apply for an Authorised Dealer (AD) Code as I am in the process of exporting a consignment abroad (mention time frame). In order to ship the goods, I need to register the AD Code with customs at (port name).

Kindly issue the AD Code letter addressed to the commissioner of customs at (port name). I would also request you to issue the letter in the format prescribed by customs, which I am enclosing here (include format below).

My Import Export Code is (mention IEC number).

I would be grateful if you could treat this request urgently.

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,

(Your name/signatory)

After processing your request, the bank will issue an AD Code. The bank’s authorisation letter bearing the AD Code must be in Annexure-A in the following format:

Bank Authorisation Letter for AD Code
(Photo credit: jawaharcustoms.gov.in)

How do you register your AD Code with customs?

Once you’ve received the AD Code on the bank’s authorisation letter, the next step is to register it with customs. The process is entirely digital and contactless and must be completed on Icegate, the Indian Customs website. Here’s how the registration process works:

  1. Log into Icegate
  2. On the left panel, click on Bank Account Management
  3. On the Export Promotion Bank Account Management page that opens up, pick the Authorised Dealer Code Registration option
  4. On the left panel, click on e-Sanchit. This leads to a page that allows you to e-file documents. Upload the necessary documents, which must be digitally signed and in the prescribed form, as listed on the page. You will need to upload the following documents: 
  • Bank’s AD Code authorisation letter in Annexure-A (original)
  • Exporter’s letter on letterhead requesting/authorising registration of AD Code  
  • Customs broker’s letter on letterhead requesting AD Code registration
  • GST registration (copy)
  • Import-Export Code (copy)
  • Permanent account number or PAN (copy)
  • Income tax returns for past three years (copy)
  • Bank statement/balance sheet for past year (copy)
  • Export House Certificate (if any, copy)
  • Manufacturing Licence (if any, copy)
  • PAN, Aadhaar, voter ID/passport and IT returns of export partner
  • PAN, Aadhaar and Voter ID/Passport of signatory
  1. When the documents are successfully uploaded, an image reference number (IRN) and document reference number (DRN) are generated
  2. If you face any recurring error in uploading the documents, you can send an email to saksham.seva@icegate.gov.in
  3. Now, go back to the Export Promotion Bank Account Management page and under the Authorised Dealer Code Registration dashboard, click Add New Account
  4. Enter the required bank details, IRN and port location code (Nhava Sheva’s code is INNSA , for example), then click submit
  5. If the inputs are valid, a six-digit OTP (one-time password) is sent to your email ID and mobile number and you are directed to the OTP page
  6. Verify the OTP. That completes your registration request. The request now goes to customs, who will approve/reject it after going through the documents
  7. Exporters can track their request status on the Authorised Dealer Code Registration dashboard by clicking on the status icon
  8. If your request has been approved, you can view your registered AD Code and bank details on the same dashboard. You can continue to add new AD Codes, accounts and locations by following the same process                    

Note: Before the process went online, exporters had to approach the customs house agent in person and submit physical copies of the documents. Unlike the current system that tells you if your request went through, exporters previously found out if their registration had been completed successfully only if they could generate a Shipping Bill on Icegate.

Process to obtain an AD Code

Can you modify an existing AD Code?

Yes, you can. In addition to adding new AD Codes, the Icegate facility allows you to modify an existing one. (You  might need to modify your AD Code when you change your bank account, for example). A modification request must be accompanied by:

  • An exporter’s letter mentioning why you need to change the AD Code or cancel a previously registered one
  • The relevant bank branch’s email ID for verification
  • All other documents required at the time of registering an AD Code   

The process to modify an AD Code on Icegate:

  1. On the Authorised Dealer Code Registration dashboard, select the relevant  location and click Modify Account
  2. On the Modify Account page that opens up, select bank name from the dropdown menu, enter the valid AD Code, IRN and Icegate ID, and click on Save Changes
  3. If the inputs are correct, a six-digit OTP is sent to your email ID/mobile number. Once the OTP is verified, the modification request has been made. You can view the status of your request on the dashboard              

And that’s all there is to registering an AD Code. We hope you found this guide helpful. Try Cogoport for a whole range of freight and logistics services.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Customer success manager

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