Simplified Trade Finance
Permanent Account Number, or PAN, is a 10-digit alpha-numeric unique identifier issued by the Income Tax Department to any person in the form of a laminated physical card. This is mandatory for filing of Income Tax Return and during all correspondence with any Income Tax authority.
Prior to PAN, a manual database system named General Index Register Number was used to keep a repository of taxpayers in the country. However, the GIR number was unique only at the ward/circle level. PAN, when introduced, too was not unique at the country level and there were issues related to duplication. However, within four years of its introduction, in 1976, PAN was made mandatory for all taxpayers. PAN in its present form can be said to have emerged in 1995. The system was made mandatory in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai in 1996 and for the rest of the country two years later.
Individuals as well as registered business entities are required to have a PAN Card. Being a business entity, your export business must also have a PAN.
NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited (formerly National Securities Depository Limited) and UTI Infrastructure Technology Services Limited (UTIITSL) handle the entire process of PAN allotment. You can apply for a PAN canby visiting their websites and applying online. Alternatively, you can also visit local PAN agents, obtain the form from them, and fill and submit it along with the necessary documents and a nominal fee.
To apply for a PAN card, you need to log on to one of two links:
UTIITSL - https://www.pan.utiitsl.com/PAN/index.jsp OR
While in UTIITSL, the landing page has separate options for Indian citizens/NRIs and foreign citizens, NSDL has incorporated it in the form of a drop-down at the beginning of the application itself.
In the application, you need to select the Type of Application and the Category of the Applicant. For example, if your export firm is an Indian Limited Liability Partnership, the drop down menu will have the option to select the same.
You will have to select the Area Code, Assessing Officer Type, Range Code and Assessing Officer Number, depending on your address and area of Income Tax Jurisdiction.
Other basic information to be added includes Name of the Applicant, Date of Incorporation, Gender, Parent’s Name, Email ID, Phone Number, Residential Address, Office Address, Aadhaar Number, Registration Number (in case of a company, partnership, LLP) etc.
You will have to mention the documents that you wish to provide as the Proof of Address, Date of Incorporation, and Identity Proof. The details you mention in the form should match the details appearing in the documents that you have provided as proof. The list of documents accepted for this purpose is mentioned here.
The Application Form will also ask about your Source of Income.
You will have to disclose the name of your representative assessee if the income tax return is to be filed by someone other than the assessee. Once the Form (49A) is filled, you have to submit the form.
The submitted form should look like the above picture. It will reflect all the information entered by you along with a declaration at the bottom of the page and spaces for your signature and photograph.
You can also get the PAN application form from UTIITSL PAN Agents or download a copy from the websites and fill it manually.
There is a nominal fee charged for PAN applications which can be paid through credit card, debit card, demand draft, or net-banking. At the time of publication, the charges of a PAN card (hard copy and e-copy) are a nominal Rs. 107, while that for an e-PAN card are even lower at Rs. 72.
Once you make the payment through the gateway via your preferred mode of payment, a 15-digit acknowledgement number is generated. You must note this down for future reference.
Once your online application is accepted and the payment is made, you will have to take a printout of the filled and paid application form. This form will display the acknowledgement number.
Along with this, you will have to attach the supporting documents that you had mentioned as Proof of Address, Identification, and Incorporation. You will also have to paste your photographs and sign in the space provided. This procedure is necessary even if you fill an application offline. You will also have to include a demand draft for the fee amount if you opted for it as the mode of payment.
The complete list of documents required for PAN application is mentioned here.
You have to send the set of documents to the NSDL/UTIITSL office within 15 days of online submission of the form.
Also Read: How to open a bank account for exports?
After you send your documents to the agency offices, you can expect to receive the PAN at the address specified by you within 15 working days. Verification of the application is done at the offices of the PAN issuing agencies and finally, the unique 10-digit PAN is received from the Income Tax department’s server. When you do receive your PAN card, it should look like the image below:
Fill the form in CAPITAL LETTERS only.
It is important to provide the correct address and phone number in your application as this information will be stored against your PAN for future correspondence.
If you have a partnership firm or LLP, get it registered with the relevant government authorities to be eligible for PAN.
The fourth character in the PAN signifies the type of the PAN holder. For example, F stands for Firm, P for Individual, C for Company etc.
The form can be filled in English only. If you're uncomfortable with the language, have a friend, family member, or trusted colleague fill the form out for you using the above guide.
Don’t apply for a PAN if your old card is stolen, lost or defaced. Note that there is a penalty of Rs. 10,000 on the possession of more than one PAN.
Sign across the photograph partially in the case of the left-top-corner photo. For the right-top-corner photo, sign in the box and not on the photo.
Avoid any overwriting or correction on the face of the application.
That's it! Once you have your PAN, your business is ready to start transacting. But wait! You still need two more things before you can start exporting -- a bank account, and an Import Export Code (IEC). Read the guides to find out how.