• Starting Your Export Business - Step 4: Apply For Import Export Code (IEC)

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    The Import Export Code (IEC) is a registration code issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) (Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India). The IEC is a prerequisite for any person or business concern either exporting from or importing to India, as it makes it easy to track and manage shipments. This trade usually pertains to goods and services. There are, however, exceptions when the IEC is not required.

    In August 2018, the IEC Code was integrated with PAN in response to various internet browser-related problems faced by applicants. As a result, the new IE Code is an electronic-IE Code (e-IEC) and is identical to the PAN number of the applicant. Do note that after the August 2018 DGFT notice, various changes have been made to the policy and procedure for the IEC application.

    Why is it required?

    Not only is the IEC a compulsory requirement for export and import business entities, it also streamlines the management and tracking of shipments. You are required to quote your IE Code while sending shipments. Your bank, too, will utilize the IEC while transferring money. There are additional important features as well:

    • Anyone can apply for an IEC before the start of their export operations, even a proprietor.

    • An IEC, once provided by the authorities, does not have to be renewed during the lifetime of the code holder.

    • Having an IEC doesn’t require you to file any return and you need not inform the DGFT of transactions made using the IE Code.

    • Having an IEC makes you eligible for various benefits from Customs, the Export Promotion Council (EPC), and the DGFT from time to time.

    • The IEC becomes your ticket to expand your business as it is a globally recognized identification marking you as a registered exporter, which enables you to spread your business across the world and venture into new territories.

    • There is no annual maintenance cost or fee involved in retaining the IEC.

    • By using an IEC, all your export dealings remain documented and you can easily prove your businesses’ compliance when it is sought by authorities. Thus, using an IE Code increases your credibility.

    • The process of getting an IEC is very simple. It can be done online or, as mentioned earlier, as a PAN-based registration process. The documentation required for the IEC registration is explained in the next section.

    What are the documents required?

    As mentioned above, the documentation needed for a fresh e-IEC application is quite straight-forward.

    • Bank Certificate - ANF-2A (See Figure 1) or a Pre-printed Cancelled Cheque

    • Address Proof of the firm

    The Address Proof can take any of the following forms:

    • Sale deed/Rent agreement/Lease deed/Electricity bill/Telephone landline bill/Mobile postpaid bill/MOU/Partnership deed – any one of these documents (depending on the type of business entity you have chosen)

    • Aadhaar Card/Passport/Voter ID – any one of these documents can be used if the applicant owns a Proprietorship concern

    • A No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the owner of the firm’s premises/location in favor of the firm, along with the Address Proof, should be submitted as a single PDF document – in case the Address Proof is not in the name of the applicant firm

    As of 9th August 2018, only the documents mentioned above need to be uploaded electronically. The document should be uploaded in digital format – PDF or JPEG, and the size of the file shouldn’t exceed 5MB. The documents need not have a digital signature.

    Also Read: How To Leverage Export Promotion Councils


    Where and how can I apply for an IEC?

    To apply for a new e-IEC, you have to first visit the DGFT website (Figure 2).


    Click on the “Online IEC application” option, which will open a new window (Figure 3), as seen below.

    eIEC confirmation

    For your convenience, this page gives you the list of documents required while applying for an IEC. On this page, you will have to enter the first piece of information required for the IEC application -- your PAN. Once you submit your PAN, another page will open asking for more information.

    eIEC PAN submission

    After entering the name and date of birth/incorporation declared against the submitted PAN, click on the submit button.

    After your PAN is verified, it will appear in an un-editable box as seen below. You just have to click on the “Next” button.

    eIEC PAN submitted

    In the next screen you will be asked for your phone number and email ID. After filling the information and the captcha code, click on the “Generate OTP” button to get a one-time password. In the next screen, enter the OTP sent on your mobile and email ID.

    After these steps, a 20-digit ECOM (e-commerce) reference number is generated, which serves as a unique identifier for your application. Thereafter, you will have to fill the application form on the page which will ask for information related to you and your export business entity. Once you fill the form you can proceed to the ‘Pay Online’ option and pay the application fee. Payment can be made using your credit/debit cards or through internet banking.

    The form will ask for supporting documents, which can be uploaded to the website by clicking the ‘attachment’ option and selecting the document category, document type and choosing the file before uploading it. The previous information you had filled will automatically appear in ANF-2A form on your screen. You have to check and submit the information by clicking on the ‘Proceed’ button. Your IEC application process is now complete.

    In due time, you will receive your e-IEC certificate (Figure no.) which looks like this:

    eIEC certificate

    That’s it! You are now registered as an exporter/importer with the DGFT.

    To commence shipping, there are, of course, a few more steps to complete. We will cover these steps in coming articles in this guide.


    • In case you cannot complete the application in one sitting, you can save and later continue a partially-completed application form. You can also reapply against a rejected form in this process.

    • Keep the Customer and ECOM reference numbers handy, at least till the IEC is issued.

    • While attaching supporting documents you can view and delete uploaded files, if required.

    • Check the list of businesses that don’t need require an IEC Code before you go through the application process -- you might be able to get an exemption.


    • Do not apply more than one IEC for the same PAN and business.

    • Do provide accurate information – applicants could face penal and legal action for furnishing wrongful or incomplete information.

    • Once the e-IEC is issued, you must update your profile via the DGFT website/portal if there are any changes to the information stored. Try to do so at least once a year, in any case.

    Spandan Sharma
    Spandan Sharma
    Heading content marketing and corporate communication efforts at Drip Capital.
    6 min read