Temporary Custody of Customs in India

Goods can be kept in the safe custody of Customs against a Detention Receipt.

Examples of some situations when goods may be kept in the custody of Customs :

  1. Passenger does not have sufficient money to pay duty and/or other dues on the goods at that moment.
  2. Passenger does not have sufficient foreign currency to pay duty on items on which duty is payable in convertible foreign exchange.
  3. Passenger does not want to take the item along with him into India but intends to return with the goods when leaving India.
  4. Passenger disputes the valuation/duty determined by Customs and intends to appeal against the decision to higher authorities.
  5. The goods are prohibited goods and the passenger has declared the items to Customs authorities. However, not all prohibited items can be kept in safe custody in this manner. Items like Narcotic Drugs, explosives, etc. are liable to seizure/confiscation.

If for any reason, the passenger is not able to collect the article at the time of leaving India, the article may be returned to him/her through any other passenger authorized by him/her and leaving India or as cargo consigned in his/her name. Similarly, dutiable goods which passengers desire to clear subsequently may also be detained temporarily for clearance on payment of duty and/or fine and other dues. Unclaimed packages found in the Baggage Hall and handed over by airlines will similarly be received by the officer in charge of detained baggage for safe custody.


Before detention of the Baggage concerned, the same is examined and inventoried. The officer concerned shall issue Detention Receipts (DR) for all goods detained by the Customs, in which the particulars of the goods as well as the name and address of the owner/importer is recorded. The DR is handed over to the owner which has to be produced by him/her when releasing the goods. In case the DR is lost, the goods can be released against an indemnity bond. The detained package is sealed with Customs seal in the presence of the passenger and his signature is obtained as evidence. The record of such detained packages are maintained in a separate register and the detained packages are kept in the custody of the Customs department.

Subsequently, when the passenger claims the packages, either for re-export or clearance on payment of duty and/or other dues, he/she has to produce the detention receipt and his/her passport and the goods are shown to the passenger to verify whether the seals are intact and his/her signature is obtained in confirmation of the same. Thereafter, the goods are released to the passenger, either for re-export or release, and the necessary entries are made in the register regarding the release of the package. If delivery is sought through an agent, a proper authorization letter containing attested signatures of the authorized agent is needed. Advance notice of 24 hrs. (excluding Sundays) is required for clearance/delivery of valuables like gold jewelry, precious stones, etc. No request for subsequent re-assessment of the value of the detained baggage is usually entertained.

If the goods are not taken delivery within the period mentioned on the DR, the Customs authorities may initiate action to dispose of the goods as per norms.

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