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What is PGA Clearance in India?


Introduction: Partner Government Agency Clearance

In India's import and export industry, Partner Government Agency (PGA) clearance plays a critical role in facilitating the smooth passage of goods and ensuring regulatory compliance. As an integral part of the country's customs clearance process, PGA clearance oversees various categories of import and export goods. Understanding PGA Clearance in India and its intricacies is essential due to the complex web of regulations and compliance requirements in India's vibrant trade ecosystem. From the integration of PGA Clearance into the Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) to its impact on reducing trade-related costs and delays, it affects every importer, and exporter positively.

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What are PGAs?

PGA refers to ‘Partner Government Agencies’ in the process of customs clearance in India. These are other government regulatory agencies responsible for overseeing specific categories of import/export goods, such as pharmaceutical drugs, livestock and livestock products, wildlife products, food products, and plants. These agencies work with the Customs authorities to ensure compliance with various allied Acts related to import and export activities.

In the implementation of the Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) in Indian Customs, the concept of an Integrated Risk Management facility for Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) has been introduced. This facility aims to enable a risk-based approach to the selection of consignments for examination and testing, ensuring more efficient and effective clearance procedures for import and export goods. Overall, integrating Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) within the Single Window system is a critical aspect of facilitating trade and ensuring smoother and faster clearance procedures for importers and exporters in India.

Role of PGA Clearance in India for Customs

PGA clearance refers to the clearance or approval required from Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) for certain categories of import and export goods. These PGAs are government regulatory agencies responsible for overseeing specific types of products or commodities, such as pharmaceutical drugs, agricultural products, livestock, wildlife, and various other controlled items.

When goods are imported or exported, they must comply with the regulations and standards set by these PGAs in addition to the requirements of the customs authorities. This may involve obtaining permits, licenses, or other forms of clearance from the relevant agencies, ensuring that the goods meet specific quality, health, safety, and environmental standards set by the government.

The process of obtaining PGA clearance in India is an essential part of the overall customs clearance process, ensuring that the goods meet all the necessary regulatory requirements before being allowed to enter or exit a country. The integration of PGA clearance within the customs clearance process is aimed at streamlining trade operations, enhancing transparency, and minimizing delays and additional costs for importers and exporters.

SWIFT for Customs and PGA Clearance in India

SWIFT (Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade) is a centralized platform in Indian customs that enables traders to submit all import and export-related information through a single electronic interface. It streamlines the process by consolidating submissions to various government agencies, reducing paperwork and saving time. SWIFT integrates risk management for PGA Clearance in India (Partner Government Agencies), ensuring efficient clearance by prioritizing consignments based on risk assessment. Its implementation has led to improved efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced transparency in India's customs operations. Some key features of the SWIFT process are as follows-

  • Automated Referral Process

Under the SWIFT system, the Integrated Declaration triggers an automatic referral of the bill of entry to the relevant agencies. This process is primarily based on risk assessment and is aimed at identifying import goods that necessitate PGA clearance in India by the Participating Government Agencies (PGAs).

  • Working Group Formation

Despite the automated process, there have been instances of incorrect or missed referrals to PGAs, prompting the establishment of a Working Group by the Board. This group consists of representatives from PGAs and major Custom Houses, to identify and rectify such cases.

  • Manual Referrals and Recording Challenges

Presently, cases manually referred to PGAs for obtaining No Objection Certificates (NOCs), otherwise called PGA Clearance are not recorded in the system. This lack of documentation poses a challenge in monitoring the clearance process, urging the Single Window project team and the Risk Management Division to seek comprehensive data for system optimization.

  • Online NOC Facility and Manual Referral Challenges

The Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has ceased the direct online application for NOCs via its Food Import Clearance System (FICS). This change has led to an increase in manual requests for NOCs, which FSSAI aims to minimize, except in exceptional cases. Customs officers manually refer consignments to FSSAI when the automated system fails to do so.

  • Importance of Information Sharing

Efficient data sharing regarding manually referred consignments to PGAs is crucial for refining the Single Window's routing mechanism. However, careful deliberation is necessary before resorting to manual referrals, leading to the decision to implement specific protocols for consignments referred manually to PGAs.

How Custom Clearance Issued to Importers?

Once the goods are received in India, they have to be cleared through customs. The customs clearance process for imported goods involves the following steps-

  • Arrival Confirmation: Upon the arrival of goods at the port of import, the Importer or Customs Broker (CB) obtains a delivery order from the relevant carrier or terminal.
  • Bill of Entry (BOE) Filing: The importer or CB files the BOE through the ICEGATE portal before the goods' arrival, facilitating pre-clearance procedures and duty payment.
  • Customs Processing: The Customs process begins once the BOE is filed. The status of clearance can be tracked using the BOE number and date.
  • Referral to Partner Government Agency (PGA): The Customs may refer the BOE to relevant PGAs such as the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for necessary No Objection Certificates (NOCs) if required.
  • Goods Registration: After the assessment, the importer or CB must register the goods through the ICEGATE portal.
  • Duty Payment: Duty can be paid by the importer or CB before the assessment is completed to expedite the clearance process.
  • Examination and Out of Charge (OOC): Customs may conduct an examination and grant an OOC if all requirements are met, signifying the completion of the Customs process.
  • Gate Pass Generation and Delivery: The custodian generates a gate pass for the goods, allowing the importer or CB to take possession.
  • Transportation: The imported goods are transported from the port to their destination.

The documents required for filing a bill of entry include a commercial invoice, packing list, air waybill, IEC code, bank AD code, GST registration number, and, for first-time importers, a KYC form. For imports for personal use, only the PAN number is necessary, with the IEC code and GST number not required.

Responsibilities of PGA

The responsibilities of Participating Government Agencies (PGAs) involve ensuring regulatory compliance and facilitating the smooth flow of goods across borders. Some of their key functions include-

  • Regulatory Oversight: PGAs are responsible for enforcing specific regulatory requirements about their respective domains, such as food safety, plant and animal quarantine, drug control, and various other standards.
  • Inspection and Clearance: They conduct inspections and clearances as per their regulatory mandates, ensuring that imported goods meet the necessary standards, certifications, and approvals.
  • NOC Issuance: They issue No Objection Certificates (NOCs) or PGA Clearance in India and any other required clearances based on the evaluation of goods, ensuring that the products comply with the relevant regulations and standards.
  • Collaboration with Customs: PGAs collaborate closely with customs authorities to ensure a streamlined process of customs clearance, sharing necessary information and data for the proper assessment of imported goods.
  • Data Sharing and Integration: They participate in data sharing initiatives, providing essential information to the customs system to facilitate automated processing and assessment of goods, thereby contributing to the efficiency of the overall customs clearance process.
  • Policy Formulation: PGAs play a crucial role in formulating and updating policies related to import regulations and standards, ensuring that these policies align with national and international trade requirements.
  • Risk Assessment and Management: They contribute to the identification and management of risks associated with the import of specific goods, employing risk-based strategies and interventions to ensure the safety and compliance of imported products.
  • Compliance Monitoring: They monitor compliance with relevant laws and regulations, ensuring that imported goods meet the necessary standards and certifications before being released into the local market or distribution networks.


We can conclude that PGA Clearance in India plays an important role in the overall customs clearance process in India. It not only simplifies compliance for imported products and other goods but also saves time by providing a single window clearance system. The integration of PGAs within the Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) has significantly streamlined the customs clearance process, prioritizing consignments based on risk assessment and reducing delays and additional costs for importers and exporters. As PGAs continue to play a crucial role in enforcing regulatory oversight, facilitating collaborations with customs authorities, and ensuring compliance with relevant standards and certifications, their active involvement remains indispensable in maintaining the efficiency and transparency of India's import and export trade operations.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not corpseed, and have not been evaluated by corpseed for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.


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Yash Chauhan is a law graduate from the University of Delhi and a skilled content writer at Corpseed. With a keen interest in the legal industry, he specializes in writing articles on contemporary legal developments, corporate compliances,...

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