The Importer Exporter Code, or IEC in short, is normally required by manufacturers and companies for international trade but with this new RBI ruling, the hundreds and thousands of freelancers, programmers, web designers and small companies who depend on PayPal for foreign payment will also have to apply for an IE code.

How to Get an Importer Exporter Code Number?

IEC is a simple 10 digit code that is issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. I talked to a cousin who exports builders’ hardware to US and Europe and here’s what he told me on how one can apply for an Import Export Code Number.

The IEC application form is available for download on dgft.gov.in – just search for “Application Form for Issue Importer Exporter Code Number (IEC)” or use this direct link. You may also procure the the form from any of the regional offices of Director General of Foreign Trade.

Filling the form should be easy and you can skip Section C since its only for people who already have an IEC number. You’ll need a bank certificate, your PAN card copies, date of birth certificate and a Demand Draft of Rs 250 (please cross-check since the fee structure may have changed) drawn in favor of DGFT.

Once you’ve all the required documents, you can submit the application in person to your regional DGFT office or it can be sent through snail mail (like registered Speed Post). Just like the Passport application, you’ll be given a File Number and you may use it to check the current status of your application on dgft.gov.in.

How Long Does It Take to Get an IEC Number?

My cousin says that it took him about a week to get the IEC number and that the certificate was delivered to his address via registered post. The IEC number is valid for life and so its just a one-time effort.

Unlike Passports, there’s no tatkal scheme for getting IEC numbers quickly. That said, there are Import Export agents in every city (just search for “Import Export Code Consultants <your city name>”) that can help you in getting the IEC code for a fee but am not sure if you really need their service.

If you are curious to know more, check this handbook [PDF] from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India that talks in details about the various procedures, restrictions and Foreign trade policies.