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Documents are a necessary evil in business transactions.

Documents are a necessary evil in business transactions. Be it sale, purchase or shipping, a single missing or incorrectly prepared document can cause immeasurable trouble for all parties involved. In shipping, goods cannot enter or leave a country unless accompanied by the necessary documents. If the paperwork is incomplete, exporters and importers can neither hand over nor collect their cargo. They might even end up paying a penalty and, worse, suffering a setback to their credibility.

How the government cut down export-import paperwork

But first, a short history of import-export documentation requirements in India and the latest government regulations on this subject.

Till five years ago, exporters and importers had to submit seven to eight mandatory documents – along with any additional paperwork that might be required, depending on the nature of the cargo or rules and regulations specific to the importing/exporting country. This made the process tedious and expensive. It was also cited as one of the factors behind India’s poor performance on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. In 2014, India ranked a lowly 142 among 189 countries (it has since climbed to 63 among 190 countries).