28 October 2021 • 17 min read
LMPC Certificate: Why Do Importers Need It?
The Legal Metrology Registration Certificate, also called LMPC certificate, is mandatory for Indian importers of pre-packaged goods. Failure to register can lead to the goods being seized by customs.
Do you import pre-packaged goods for sale and distribution? If you do, then you need to know that you cannot import these goods into India without a Legal Metrology Registration Certificate, commonly called a Legal Metrology Packaged Commodity (LMPC) certificate. An LMPC certificate is an import requirement under the Legal Metrology Act, 2009, and Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules, 2011. The Act governs trade in goods that are sold or distributed by weight, measure or number. By defining strict rules and regulations, including for pre-packaged goods, the Act seeks to promote fair trade practices and protect consumer rights.
In this piece, we will explore the LMPC certificate for import in its entirety, touching on:
- What is a pre-packaged commodity?
- What is an LMPC certificate for importers?
- Why do importers need it?
- How and where can they apply for it?
- How much does it cost?
- What are the repercussions of not having an LMPC certificate?
First, a brief overview of pre-packaged goods and legal metrology.
What are pre-packaged goods?
The Act defines a pre-packaged commodityas “a commodity which, without the purchaser being present, is placed in a package of whatever nature, whether sealed or not, so that the product contained therein has a pre-determined quantity”. Some examples of pre-packaged goods include baby food, fuel, food products, paint, cement in bags, cables, wires, chemicals, wool and so on.
The importance of legal metrology
Metrology is the study of measurements. And legal metrology deals with the units and methods of weight and measurement in relation to mandatory legal and technical requirements. That is the official definition of legal metrology. But what exactly is its relevance in application to pre-packaged goods?
Here’s a simple explanation. When we go to the market, we buy goods that are either sold loose or pre-packed. The loose goods (fruits, vegetables, rice, flour) are weighed in our presence. We can personally determine their quality. We also know the identity of the seller. But when we buy pre-packaged goods, we cannot be sure of the product’s weight, freshness, or safety. Nor do we know the manufacturer. The Legal Metrology Act arms the customer with the information required (weight, quantity, price, expiry date, etc) to make a clear buying decision.
You might also like to read ‘Import challenges in India, and ways to fix them’ here
What is an LMPC certificate for importers?
Traders who import pre-packaged goods for sale or distribution must make an application to the Director of Legal Metrology in the Central government or the Controller of Legal Metrology in the state to have their name and address registered. If the application is accepted, the registering authority (Director/Controller of Legal Metrology) will register the importer’s name and address and grant them an LMPC certificate. Here’s what an LMPC certificate looks like. An LMPC registration is valid for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years.
If you intend to sell your pre-packaged goods in a single state, you must apply to the controller in that state. If you plan to sell in multiple states, you’ll need to register with the director at the Centre, through your local controller.
Note: Apart from importers, manufacturers and packers of pre-packaged goods also require LMPC certificates.
Where to apply for LMPC certificate
Some states facilitate online LMPC registration. In Andhra Pradesh, for example, you can submit your application with the necessary documents (discussed below) on the AP Industries Department’s single desk portal. If you are in Delhi, here’s where you register online.
If this online facility is not available in your state, visit the local Legal Metrology Department and submit your application in person. Or, you can hire a lawyer or consultant to do the legwork for you – for a fee, of course. You can find such a third-party agent with a simple Google search.
How to apply and what it costs
When filling up your application form, you will need to include the following details:
- Your (applicant) name
- Complete address of premises where the commodity is imported to
- Common or generic name of the commodity
The rules state that the application must be made within 90 days of the date of commencement of import. You will need to pay a fee of INR500.
On receiving a complete application form, the registering authority will inspect the importer’s premises and, if everything is found to be in order, register the applicant and grant them an LMPC certificate. This usually takes up to 20 days.
If the application is incomplete, it will be returned to the applicant within seven days of its receipt.
The importer may make alterations to the certificate by paying a fee of INR100 to the registering authority.
To receive an LMPC certificate, importers must ensure their pre-packaged goods carry a declaration with the following information:
- Name and address of the importer
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Common or generic name of commodity contained in the package
- Country of origin of the commodity
- Net quantity in terms of standard unit of weight, measurement, or number
- Month and year of import
- Month and year of manufacture
- Maximum retail price (MRP)
- Dimensions of the commodity, if relevant
- Name, address, and telephones number (and email address, if available) of person/office to be contacted in case of customer complaints
The declaration differs from product to product. It must be printed in Hindi or English. And, there are rules specifying how the declaration must be displayed on the packaging or affixed to it, as well as detailed instructions regarding each information point. To be compliant, read the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules here.
Why importers need LMPC certificate
Not having an LMPC certificate or failing to comply with the declaration rules can lead to your imported goods being detained by customs. Given the delays, expenses and other repercussions of a customs seizure, make sure your importer registration is done before your goods arrive in India.
To read about import duties in India, click here
Rule violations and penalties
Any violation of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules will invite a fine:
- If any of the provisions of rules 27 to 31 are violated, the fine is INR4,000
- For violation of other provisions of these rules for which no punishment has been provided in the Act or Rules, the fine is INR2,000
- If you apply for an LMPC certificate after 90 days of the commencement of import, you will be charged a late fee (INR5,000 in Delhi)
The fines might be accompanied by some form of action, especially if it is not a first offence. Usually, it is the manufacturer who is liable. However, if the name and address of the entity mentioned on the label is not preceded by the qualifying words ‘manufactured by’ or ‘packed by’, it is presumed that the name and address belong to the manufacturer and liability will be determined accordingly. Importers must take note of this as they could end up being liable for any violations.
An LMPC certificate is mandatory for the import of all pre-packaged commodities except the following:
- Commodities with a net weight or measure of 10 grams or 10 mililitres or less
- Agricultural produce in packages of more than 50 kg
- Packages containing fast food items packed by a restaurant or hotel
- Packages containing formulations covered by the Drugs (Price Control) Order, 1995
Furthermore, Chapter 2 of the Legal Metrology Act, containing provisions for packages intended for retail sale, will not apply to:
- Packages with commodities weighing more than 25 kg or 25 litres, excluding cement and fertilisers sold in bags of up to 50 kg
- Packaged commodities meant for industrial consumers (those who buy the goods directly from the manufacturer for use in that industry) or institutional consumers (service institutions such as airways, railways, hotels and hospitals).
What is legal metrology?
The Department of Consumer Affairs defines legal metrology as “that part of metrology which treats units of weightment and measurement, methods of weightment and measurement and weighing and measuring instruments, in relation to the mandatory technical and legal requirements which have the objects of ensuring public guarantee from the point of view of security and accuracy of the weightments and measurements”.
Is an LMPC certificate mandatory for pre-packaged imports?
Yes, an LMPC certificate is mandatory for those who import pre-packaged commodities for sale and distribution. However, there are a few exemptions.
Who is authorised to grant an LMPC certificate?
The Controller of Legal Metrology in the State and the Director of Legal Metrology at the Centre are both authorised to grant LMPC certificates.
How much does an LMPC certificate cost?
The applicant must pay a fee of INR500.
How long does it take to get an LMPC certificate?
By most accounts, it takes anywhere up to 20 days from the date of receipt of the application.
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