Indian Electric Vehicle Import, Customs Duty - Imports of Electric Cars. E-scooters from China - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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by Narasimhan Santhanam

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The rules and norms for importing a vehicle are combined regulations by the customs, transportation and road safety departments of Indian government. They are generally renewed or altered during annual budget declaration.

The government has the following requirements for importing a new vehicle:

  • New vehicles has to be completely manufactured and assembled outside of India.
  • New vehicle must be imported from the country in which it was manufactured.
  • New vehicle must have to be unregistered, free of a loan, unsold before importing.
  • It must have right-hand steering, controls and headlights suitable for driving on the left side of the road. (This term applies to all vehicles).
  • New vehicle must have a speedometer that displays the speed in kmph.
  • It can be imported only via the Indian customs ports at Mumbai (Nhava Sheva), Kolkata or Chennai.
  • It must conform to the provisions of the Central Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, (which will discuss below in detail)

Recent Updates on EV Import

  • The Finance ministry, in January 2020, proposed to increase basic customs duty on completely built units (CBUs) of electric vehicles to 40% from the existing 25%, while the same on the import of SKD form of electric passenger vehicles has been doubled to 30%.
  • Import of electric two-wheelers, buses and trucks in the same form will attract 25% customs duty as opposed to 15% applicable currently. Customs duty on import of electric vehicles, in a completely knocked down form has also been increased by five percentage points to 15%.
  • The CKD import of commercial vehicles will attract 15% customs duty compared to the existing rate of 10%. Auto components such as catalytic converters will also see a hike in import duty.
Import Duty (2020 Budget)
Components Before 2020 Budget After 2020 Budget
Li-ion cells to manufacture Batteries 5% 10%**
Battery packs used in Ev manufacturing 5% 15%**
Other EV Parts( electric motors, brake systems, electric converter & compressor) 0% 15%**
Completely built units of E buses and E trucks 25% 50%***
SKD for 3Ws/ passenger 4 Ws 15% 30%***
SKD for 2W, Buses, Trucks 15% 25%***
***From April 2020 Onwards
** From April 2021 Onwards


Importing a Used Vehicle in India

The government has the following requirements for importing a used vehicle:

  • Used vehicles must not be older than five years of manufactured date.
  • Importers must have evidence of pre registered, pre leased or sold history before importing.
  • Roadworthiness certificate of used vehicle for at least 5 years after importing must be taken by Central Motor Vehicle authority as per rules.
  • It must have right-hand steering, controls and headlights suitable for driving on the left side of the road.
  • Used vehicles must have a speedometer that displays the speed in kmph.
  • It can be imported only through the Indian customs port at Mumbai (Nhava Sheva).
  • It must conform to the provisions of the Central Motor Vehicles Act of 1988.
  • Its cylinder capacity is no more than 3,000cc.

Central Motor Vehicles Act of India has further rules for the new and used vehicle.

  • At the time of importation, have valid certificate of compliance as per the provisions of rule 126 of Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), 1989, for the vehicle model being imported, issued by any of the testing agencies, specified in the rule.
  • Submit a certificate of testing prove issued by the stated testing agency of government, that the second hand or used vehicle being imported into India has been tested immediately before shipment for export to India and the said vehicle conforms to all the regulations specified in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 of  India and the rules made there under.

Banned Vehicles in India

The following types of vehicle are banned:

  • Cars with an engine capacity of between 1,000cc and 2,500cc
  • Motorcycles with an engine capacity of between 50cc and 500cc
  • Scooters with an engine capacity of between 250cc and 800cc

Procedures for importing a vehicle

  • Documents requirement at the time of custom clearance
  • Custom duty fee


Invoice Copy

  • It’s a seller bill copy sent by the exporter to the importer before the date of arriving imported items.
  • It contains the details of the exporter name, address, purchase price, date of purchase.

Packing List

  • This document comes with the shipment which includes the type of items, number of items and weight for each item

Cargo Arrival Notice

This document sent by a cargo office to inform importer of the arrival of shipment, it includes the details of each item and shipping charges

Letter of Authority

  • Issued by Customs authority to the importer to clear their shipment after all requirements and rules met by the user.


Read our other blogs: EV Supply Chain | EV Value Chain | FCEV Trends | Indian FCEV R&D | CNG vs EV | Import & Customs |

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About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.

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