Determining the Place of Supply for Different Categories of Imports: Goods vs Services

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The modern economy is greatly influenced by how international trade has been set up all over the global market. The best way to bridge the gap between domestic and domestic demand is to outsource raw materials. For the assessment of technologies, importing goods and services is the best solution to cater to such issues.

Indeed, importing goods and services is not a piece of cake. The complexities can lead to severe, multiple, and tangled import regulations and taxation issues.

Tax liability and compliance are two basic factors greatly influenced by the place of supply, specifically for imported goods and services. Let’s shed some light on the different perspectives of GST, taxation and compliance, place of supply, and customs clearance:

Place of supply rules for goods and service imports

There are different sets of rules for the place of supply of goods and services imported. The place of supply is one important aspect that has to be at the top of the list when importing goods and services.

It’s mainly because it’s the placement of supply that helps with the determination of the tax rate and jurisdiction of imported goods and services. Let’s discuss the place of supply in detail, considering the different categories.

  1. Place of supply for imported goods
  2. Place of supply for imported services

The general rule for the place of supply for imported goods claims that India will be considered the place of supply because that’s where the goods first arrive. No matter what state the recipient resides in, since it’s an interstate transaction, the IGST will be levied.

This generalized rule is not applicable when the goods are moved to another state before they get delivered to the recipient; then, the place of supply will be shifted to the destination state.

The generalized rule for place of supply for imported services determines that the place of supply dictates the recipient’s location. This advocates that if there is any service that a foreign supplier has taken from an Indian recipient, without any objection, the place of supply will be India.

For certain types of import services, there are exceptions. These are:

  1. Online data access
  2. Intellectual property rights 
  3. Transportation services: Whenever international transportation services occur, the dependency will be on the origin of the transported goods or the destined points. 
  4. In such a matter, the reverse charge mechanism acts as if the importer and tax collector will be considered the Indian recipients for both acts. The IGST liability will be the responsibility of the Indian recipient. 
  5. If the place of supply for imported goods is thoroughly understood, it can help understand the tax and also declare the methods of dealing with compliance issues.

Also Read: Place of supply for service imports: location of service recipient in India

Taxable event for import transactions 

Import transactions are another crucial pathway to dealing with import services. The foremost objective is to identify the taxable event in the import transaction because that can help determine when to pay the tax liability. It occurs:

  1. Importation: The taxable event for import transactions occurs when any good crosses the Indian border. 
  2. Supply of imported goods: The supply of imported goods occurs due to the transfer of ownership to the recipient in India. 
  3. Payment of imported goods: This occurs when the payment is made by an Indian recipient to a foreign supplier.

The taxation event varies according to the different conditions set by various scenarios. This event usually takes place when an Indian recipient handles any service.

What matters most is the event’s timing, because that clarifies tax compliance and proves helpful in getting rid of unwanted penalties.

Also Read: Understanding the place of supply for import transactions: legal and regulatory framework

Considerations for services import

Following are the considerations for service import. These are:

  1. Reverse charge mechanism: As per the Indian charge mechanism, the Indian recipient is held accountable for collecting any taxes. The calculation of the IGST also applies to the Indian recipient. 
  2. Compliance burden: It helps share the compliance burden as it determines the timing of the taxable event. 
  3. Documentation: One has to maintain proper filing of the documents so that the person becomes eligible to claim input tax credit. 

IGST applicability for imports 

The Indian GST regime considers IGST (integrated goods and services tax) an essential factor in the transactions of imported goods. The IGST applies to products solely depending on two factors. These are:

  1. Place of supply 
  2. The type of import 

IGST on goods that are imported

The tax rate on goods that are imported into India is the same. However, it depends a lot on the type of good as well. The IGST covers both the other two categories of taxes as well. These are the CGST and SGST. 

IGST on services that are imported

Only if a reverse charge mechanism is applied will the recipient in India have to pay IGST. It will then be the responsibility of the Indian recipient to collect the tax from the government. IGST is exempted in some cases where healthcare, medicines, and education are exceptions. 

Benefits of IGST on imports

  1. Simplified tax structure: It helps with a simplified version of the tax structure, which is easy to understand and implement. 
  2. ITC: This way, it helps build efficient tax utilization. 
  3. Interstate trade: It helps with the movement of goods without any difficulties. 
  4. Tax compliance: helps a lot with tax compliance issues and also helps with reducing tax evasion. 

Valuation methods for imports 

There are six valuation methods for imports. These are:

  1. Transaction value method: This method is considered to be the primary method. This method is something upon which suggestions and results can be based. 
  2. The transaction value of identical goods: It is applicable when goods are sold to get them exported to India. 
  3. Transaction value of similar goods: This becomes applicable when the second method seems no longer functional. 
  4. Deductive value method: It depends on the price at which the goods have been sold. 
  5. Computed value method: It contains costs such as material value, profit, customs duties and other taxes, transport, and insurance. 
  6. Fallback method: This method comes into being when any of the above methods make no sense of becoming functional. For this method, you should remember documents, customs authorities, and dispute resolution: this helps create a fair decision. 

Customs clearance procedures for imports.

If a person is new to the grind of international trade, imports, and exports, customs clearance can be a tough spectrum to cater to. If you wish to streamline and complete the overall process quickly, you must follow proper documentation, and some steps are worth following. These are:

  • Pre-shipment planning: You should categorize the restricted items before getting them transported. It’s better to classify the products beforehand. You should also carry a license and permit letter for specific products. 
  • Shipment and documentation: You should carry a bill of lading, commercial invoice, and packing list. These documents are very important to carry out while going through this process. 
  • Custom declaration and filing: For filing the documents and getting the goods or services declared, the best way is to get a broker fixed. 
  • Payment of duties and taxes: All the charges for taxes and responsibilities should be correctly calculated and then levied to be paid along with IGST. 
  • Customs examination and release: It includes a risk assessment where the goods that are being imported go through a thorough examination. Once things are thoroughly examined, the customs allow them to go ahead. 
  • Post-clearance activities: You should keep a proper record of post-clearance activities. For any refund or import duty credit, the best way is to deal with the scenario with the help of an expert for better guidance.

Also Read: Place of supply for goods imports: port of entry and customs clearance


All the businesses in international trading know how tough it is to go through importing goods and services. It’s mainly because identifying the place of supply for goods and services (imports) is a complex process that can’t be handled easily in one go.

The best way is to reach out to the process while creating a margin between the goods and services to ensure compliance and taxation. It also helps in the optimization of the operations of the port.

The blog contains a diverse category of information, giving a clear understanding of both goods and services for imports. The primary determinants must be customs clearance, place of supply, and recipient service location. Overall, it’s a technical exercise to understand the ups and downs of the process, which can be catered to by going through this document.


Q1. What are the consequences of determining the incorrect place of supply?

It is important to identify the correct tax to be levied on the applicable invoice. If the place of supply is incorrect, it is like paying tax to the government that is not meant to receive the tax or is considered to have paid incorrect tax. It can lead to a huge waste of money in the name of penalties. The wrong calculation of GST liability can lead to interest charges as well. If the refunds are applicable, they can be claimed to be paid to the right government in cash.

Q2. What are the considerations for importing gift samples?

These small gifts and samples are exempt from paying any taxes. However, it stays under a limit as long as the value of the goods is up to Rs 5,000 and it is a bonafide gift sample. The best way is to keep a check on the said regulations so that the value and purpose of the imported goods can be declared. Also, some gift samples are prohibited from being imported, such as narcotic drugs, animals, and ammunition. Any other gift sample besides this that is not importable freely must request a special permit from the customs authorities. Either way, to import such samples, a grant of Customs Clearance Permit application must be sent to the Director General of Foreign Trade along with the supporting documents requested by them.

Q3. What are the emerging trends in import processing and taxation?

Import procedures are inclined toward the idea of paperless documentation. Digital customs clearance is the chosen method that is gaining attention. For the betterment of international trading, the focus is on the harmonization of customs and trade facilitation as well. 

Q4. What are the different valuation methods for calculating customs duty?

Transaction value, FOB, and CIF are three of the standard valuation methods. The cost of goods and freight is included in the FOB, whereas the insurance of the goods, freight, cost of goods, and port cost are all under the CIF.

The transaction value determines the payable price for the goods. Choosing the valuation method wisely is essential, as this can have a massive impact on the taxable value and tax liability. 

Q5. What is the main tax on imports?

The central tax on imports is the IGST (integrated goods and services tax), which applies to both central and state governments. 

Q6. Can you claim the tax paid on imports?

Yes, you can claim it. The input tax credit can be claimed on the return of GST for the imports upon which the IGST is paid. 

Q7. Why should you keep documents in the process of importing services?

Keeping documents at every step of importing services or goods helps avoid duties, taxes, and penalties, and you can easily claim tax credits as well. 

Q8. If you are importing machinery for the factory, what will taxes and place of supply be?

The tax will be decided based on the type and value of the machinery you are willing to import. Most likely, the taxes will be IGST and customs duty. There might be chances for the availability of ITC, and the location of the customs clearance will be considered as the place of supply. 

Q9. If the goods are bought online, are there special tax rules?

If the value of the goods bought online exceeds a certain limit, customs duty and IGST are levied, per Indian government laws. 

Q10. What are the customs clearance procedures for e-commerce imports?

The process of customs clearance can vary when it comes to importing goods. Various prepaid duty mechanisms help with clearance. For a better outcome, look for different platform procedures or seek a broker’s help to make things easy and smooth. The broker or compliance expert can be of great help in this regard.

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Amitha Shet Content Writer
Amitha is a creative enthusiast, which gets her into educating the world about things she comprehends. Finance, business, and digital transformation are the topics that she is profoundly interested in so that she can make things simpler for the audience. She is currently a content strategist for a fintech company. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering, although finance is a niche that piques her interest to not just educate but to invest and gain experience.

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