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

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GST, an acronym for goods and services tax, has played a pivotal role in how things fall into place when it comes to taxes, specifically on the goods and services imported.

Place of supply has its utmost importance, and it can be difficult to identify at the same time regarding service imports. The place of supply can determine the tax rate and compliance requirements quite well.

Let’s get to know in detail the other significant features of the place of supply when it comes to service imports. 

Location of service recipients for service imports

The GST regime has separate and significant rules to be followed to determine the place of supply for service imports. The service recipient’s location plays a prominent role in identifying the place of supply.

The place of supply has to be the location of the registered recipient if the person who is importing is a resident of India and is levied to pay taxes. It also dictates that the service provider be liable to pay IGST on the overall service value.

The rules and laws are slightly different for situations where the person is unregistered in India. For such cases, the place of supply can be:

  1. Location of the service provider: If, by any means, the address or the recipient’s location can’t be traced or reached, the location of the place of supply will be the service provider’s location. Here, the situation is reversed back to such an order where the recipient is supposed to pay IGST on the entire value of the services that are imported. 
  2. Location of the service recipient: When the case is similar in such a way that the address is available, the location will be the place of supply.

There are some principles about the location of service recipients for the import of services. These are:

  1. The recipient’s location will be considered the place of supply only under one condition: when the person is registered under GST. It also declares that an Indian recipient should pay tax (GST) on the imported services as per the law set by the reverse charge mechanism. 
  2. For the unregistered person, the place of supply can be two: the recipient’s location and the supplier’s location. 
  3. There are certain services for which the place of supply can be examined. These are transport services, passenger services, and goods. When the service is taken for transport, the place of supply must be where the goods are being transferred. Passenger service is where the passenger is supposed to reach and where service is taken, which will be considered the place of supply of the goods. 

Reverse charge mechanism for service imports

When any good or service is imported and the services are taken in India because of the recipient’s location, that’s when the rule of the reverse charge mechanism takes place. According to this mechanism, the taxability shifts from the service provider to the recipient. It says:

  1. The person who’s residing in India is in charge of paying the tax, and he is going to calculate it by himself. He is also responsible for filing a return on the tax (payable) and other payments. 
  2. There is no need for that resident of India to file and pay another extra tax for the reverse charge mechanism. The previous one will suffice. 
  3. The recipient is given this leverage to ask for the ITC on the taxes he has paid, which comes under the reverse charge mechanism. 
  4. When a resident of India wants to teach a reverse charge mechanism, it’s essential to know which documents to keep so that, at the time of need, he has all the important documents. 
  5. The recipient should have this information so that he can be asked to pay the penalties if he has applied for a reverse charge mechanism for non-compliance.

Also Read: Reverse Charge Mechanism

Tax implications of service imports

When the location is Indian territory, the service is imported there, and the recipient is also from India, taxation under these conditions acts as follows:

  1. Reverse charge mechanism: It’s an obvious point when the recipient is registered with GST, and the place of supply has to be within India; it makes all the conditions right for the reverse charge mechanism. The recipient from India will be held accountable for paying other taxes for utilizing imported services. 
  2. Availability of ITC: ITC, which is short for the input tax credit, is considered a blessing in disguise when discussing the complexities of taxation. With the help of ITC, the recipient has the leverage of using the GST, which he has paid by terming it as credit. Inculcating ITC can be a complex idea to deal with as it comes with specific rules that are implemented by the GST laws. 
  3. Exemptions: There are certain exemptions on service imports, as they are not levied to pay GST as per the Indian regime. The exemptions are healthcare medications and financial aid. The best way to understand these exemptions and concessions is so that they can help optimize tax liabilities. 
  4. Customs: There are many other services that, when imported, are subject to paying customs duties. However, it depends a lot on the type of service and its categories.

Also Read: Place of Supply for Goods and Input Tax Credit (ITC): Implications and Restrictions

Compliance obligations for service importers

There can be some leading factors that lead to compliance obligations. These are:

  1. GST return filing: It’s for all those recipients who have claimed a reverse charge. They must file a GST return, which will later help declare imported services and the taxation as per GST. 
  2. Record keeping: It’s best to keep a record of every document that has invoices, receipts, and other documents that are needed for further processing. 
  3. GST payment: The payment of GST, the calculation of the payments, and the timely payments are some of the apparent obligations. The best way is to go for an online payment method, as it seems less hectic, saves time and effort, and the payment remains secure as well. 
  4. Required documents: An importer or exporter must deal with documents every time. They are needed at different steps, and keeping them intact is good. That one document, which states the invoice of the service stating how it’s used, where it got used, the value of the service, and the tax on that particular service, should be with the importer so that things can be compiled smoothly and efficiently. 
  5. Staying updated: If you are an importer, it should be essential to stay up-to-date about all the rules and laws of the GST. The importer should keep a close check on the notifications rendered by the central board related to tax implications.

Also Read: Understanding Place Of Supply: Import, Export, And Compliance

Registration requirements for service importers

These are the following requirements that are needed for registration from the service importers:

  1. Registered recipients: These already-registered recipients are not bound to fulfill any other or extra requirements. All they can do is obtain their GST number and use it for further processing. There is no hard-and-fast rule for recipients who are already registered. 
  2. Unregistered recipients: If the recipient hasn’t been registered under GST, they are responsible for obtaining a temporary registration so that they don’t face any issues with the transactions. 
  3. Exemptions: There are certain exemptions that, if you read or go through them, can help a lot in saving time and effort. Any personal service is exempted from GST. 
  4. Ineligibility: All businesses under the scheme composition are restricted from getting their services imported. They are simply ineligible and, therefore, can’t prevent themselves from having their services imported. 
  5. Foreign entities: The GST registration cannot be availed of by any foreign entity not physically present in India. If they are still willing to get service compliance for their imports, the best way is to get a tax representative appointed. 
  6. Guidance: It’s a great tool to seek aid from professionals. This way, you can identify if your process is on the right track. A tax advisor or an expert in a similar field can help you track where things go wrong. At such a point where things are getting out of reach and you think they can’t be made any better, you should consult with an expert’s help. 

Temporary registration process

  1. Application form: This can be found on the GST portal.
  2. Information: Many factors can be asked in the information column, such as the address, name, PAN, nature, type, and value of the service being imported. 
  3. Documents: Necessary documents are also required during the temporary registration process. 
  4. Processing and approval: If documents are accepted, the request is approved. If not, the request is denied. 
  5. Validity: The validity remains for a period of 90 days. You may ask for extra extensions, but that must require appropriate and relevant reasoning.


Tax implications, duties, and GST complexities are a puzzle and require time to resolve. The registration requirements needed for import services in India have their difficulties, leading to inefficient workflow for many businesses and companies.

The key points shared determine the points and factors that should be considered while importing services in India or when the recipient resides in India. The key points shared are a great and helpful tool for making wise decisions and seamless compliance while staying within the taxation landscape.

Every process has its difficulties, pros, and cons; however, import and export can be fruitful if tracked, and their compliance is strongly cited. Moreover, any country can gain massive profits from it if it follows the rules and laws set by the GST.

If you are an importer or an exporter, don’t think it will be an easy-going process. It has its complexities, so the best way to deal with them is by getting help from an expert or a tax advisor who can better analyze where things are going wrong and how to deal with them.


Q1. How can importing be made possible when registration is not done?

Importing can be made possible by getting the GST registration temporarily. You can do it just for the sake of importing purposes. 

Q2. Would any other registration be needed if you have signed up with GST?

No, there will be no need to register yourself if you have already registered for GST. 

Q3. How can messed-up paperwork affect you?

Messed-up paperwork can lead to several penalties, duties, and taxes. Therefore, keeping all the documents up-to-date and properly arranged is important. 

Q4. If the transportation services are imported, where is the supply?

The place of supply can be determined by the goods being transported. Wherever the goods are transported, that place can be tagged as the place of supply. 

Q5. When would you have to pay the GST if you are availing of a passenger transportation service?

You can pay the GST wherever the passenger is embarking on the journey. Wherever the passenger stops, you may pay the tax there. 

Q6. Are all the services that are being imported taxable?

No. It isn’t this way. Healthcare, medication, and financial aid are not levied to pay taxes. 

Q7. How long does temporary registration remain valid?

The temporary registration remains valid for up to 90 days. You may get an extension on it after submitting relevant reasoning. 

Q8. What should be the best way to deal with the taxation complexities?

The best way to deal with such complexities is by taking aid from an expert or an advisor who excels in taxation. A compliance expert can also be a helpful resource for you to deal with all types of complexities. 

Q9. What do recent updates say about GST laws?

The few recent changes and updates on GST laws are mentioned below:

  1. If the supplier isn’t paid by the recipient, including the tax, within 180 days of their invoice, the recipient is forced to pay the value equivalent to the ITC along with some interest.
  2. As per the government amendment to the place of supply of goods transportation rule, the recipient’s location must be regarded as a place of supply rather than the supplier’s location.
  3. Zero-rated supply provisions have had some changes recently where the exporters must first pay IGST and claim a refund rather than exporting without paying any tax.

Q10. What’s a trade surplus?

When the exports are greater than the imports, the country faces a trade surplus. 

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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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