Tips for international shipping from Vietnam to India

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Shipping routes between Vietnam and India are more than just commercial pathways for goods; they are significant threads weaving the economic and cultural fabric of both nations together. Historically rooted, these pathways have seen a myriad of exchanges from silk to spices. Today, Vietnam, known for its diverse offerings, has seen a vast range of its goods, especially its renowned food products, increasingly making their way into Indian households. Key commodities like electronics and textiles are frequently shipped, indicating the diverse demand spectrum of the Indian market. 

According to Vietnam’s General Department of Customs, the value of exports from Vietnam to India in 2022 totalled US$7.96 billion, a staggering 13.6% increase from the previous year. This robust rise in exports from Vietnam to India signifies not only the burgeoning commercial engagements but also the deepening trust between the two nations.  

However, the potential for further growth and economic opportunities needs to be underpinned by a seamless cross-border transportation process. As businesses in Vietnam and India endeavour to cater to their customers, the reliability of shipments, clear communication, and timely deliveries become paramount. The essence of these trade relations hinges on smooth shipping experiences, making them the bedrock of the enduring Vietnam-India trade relationship. 

Vietnamese companies looking to export goods and products to India should keep the following tips in mind to optimise their international shipping journey: 

Tip 1: Evaluate different shipping modes to find the ideal fit for your business 

Navigating the world of international shipping presents a gamut of choices for businesses, especially when shipping from Vietnam to India. The two primary modes available to merchants are express shipping and freight forwarding (air freight and sea freight).  

The first, express shipping, stands out for its rapidity and is estimated to be able to complete deliveries between Vietnam and India in as little as one business day. This is a marked advantage from freight forwarding, where air freight can take up to a week and sea freight up to 50 days – which can affect customer satisfaction. 

For businesses dealing with time-critical commodities such as samples required for production, business correspondence or trend-driven items like fashion wear, delays can spell drastic revenue losses. As per recent industry studies, a rising number of enterprises, particularly those with time-sensitive consignments, are gravitating towards express air shipping. Their priority is clear: swift, reliable delivery that ensures products are in customers' hands when they are most needed. 

DHL Express amplifies the benefits of express air shipping by not only ensuring goods are promptly delivered but also optimising costs. The competitive shipping cost from Vietnam to India offered by DHL Express makes it a top choice for businesses that don't want to compromise on delivery timelines or their budget. With the dual advantages of speed and affordability, it's no surprise that many enterprises are now considering express air shipping, particularly with DHL Express, as their go-to solution. 

Tip 2: Prepare the necessary documentation 

For businesses keen on importing goods from Vietnam to India, understanding the paperwork intricacies involved is a non-negotiable first step. At the core of this are key documents like the air waybill – which acts as a receipt for the shipment and as a contract for carriage, and the commercial invoice – a primary document for customs declaration, displaying the product’s value, and determining tariffs and duties. 

India has specific requirements when it comes to paperwork, and even a minor oversight can lead to shipments being held up, incurring penalty charges or other unexpected import duty impositions. These requirements are subject to changes at national, federal, and local levels, and businesses will need to keep up with the latest news to ensure they have the right documentation in place. As an example, in August 2023 India announced a transition period of three months before the implementation of a new licensing scheme for laptops, tablets, and personal computers. Under the previous scheme, no permits or licences were necessary to import these goods into the country; however from 1 November onwards, companies would need to obtain a licence from the Indian government in order to import their goods. 

Fortunately, DHL Express prides itself on our customs expertise. As such, we have been a game-changer for numerous businesses, especially those new to the nuances of importing from Vietnam to India. By partnering with DHL Express, businesses gain an assurance: their shipments are backed by a team that knows the documentation drill inside out, ensuring smooth transitions across borders and eliminating the common pitfalls that often plague international shipping. 

Through partnering with DHL Express, businesses gain access to convenient platforms like MyDHL+, our all-in-one online shipment booking, management, and tracking interface. Companies can fill out the fields on MyDHL+ to create accurate shipping labels and customs invoices, amongst other features. Multi-user integration further allows you to collaborate with different people on the platform while saved addresses and stored history ensure identical data across multiple documents, easing the difficulty of navigating shipping demands.  

Tip 3: Understand India's customs regulations and related free trade agreements 

India’s vast market and growing economic ties with countries like Vietnam have made it an attractive partner for international trade. However, importing goods from Vietnam to India isn't just about shipping products. It's about understanding and navigating India’s comprehensive and multifaceted customs regulations, which every enterprise keen on the Indian market must decipher. 

For Vietnamese enterprises eyeing the Indian market, several key takeaways are essential. Firstly, India’s customs framework isn't just about bureaucratic paperwork; it's an evolved system meticulously crafted to ensure that all products entering its boundaries comply with stringent regulatory, quality, and safety benchmarks. Compliance isn't just a formality; it's a necessity – and one businesses must strive to meet if they wish to successfully cater to the Indian audience. 

Central to understanding India’s customs landscape is the concept of de minimis value. In layman’s terms, it's a value threshold below which goods are exempt from tax on imported goods in India. India’s de minimis value is INR1000 threshold value on customs duty, and INR0 threshold value on VAT/GST (or similar taxes).  

Understanding this value is crucial as it directly impacts the cost-efficiency of smaller shipments. This becomes particularly crucial for businesses making smaller but more frequent shipments, as this can drastically impact the cost-effectiveness and pricing strategy of their products. 

Additionally, all goods imported into India are subjected to certain duties and taxes, levied upon time of import. The Goods & Services Tax (GST) is levied on all imported goods, at 10% of the value of the shipment. If your goods move across two or more Indian states or Union Territories, Integrated GST (IGST) will be levied at a rate of the imported goods plus all applicable customs duties. A GST Compensation Cess levy may be applicable to selected reportable goods, typically in the luxury and low-value categories. Other duties you may be subject to include the Basic Customs Duty (BCD), Countervailing Duty (CVD), Special Additional Duty (SAD), and Social Welfare Surcharge (SWS). 

Another linchpin in Vietnam-India trade dynamics is the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA). This treaty isn't just a formal handshake between nations; it's a goldmine of potential benefits and opportunities for Vietnamese exporters. It paves the way for preferential duty rates, potentially leading to significant reductions in Indian import duties. Leveraging such FTAs can thus mean a world of difference in the profitability margins for Vietnamese businesses, particularly for smaller businesses. Discover more ways to optimise your business strategy with our step-by-step guide to overseas shipping for small and medium enterprises. 

However, while opportunities abound, so do challenges. Whether it's comprehending the nuances of anti-dumping duty in India, getting a grasp on the list of restricted items for import in India, or understanding the Indian courier charges per kg, succeeding in the international exports arena can be difficult. This is where having a seasoned guide becomes invaluable. DHL Express, with our deep-rooted expertise in international shipping and customs export procedures, serves as that reliable partner. Through our shipping and consultation services, we help ensure smoother, efficient, and compliant shipping experiences from Vietnam to India. 

Tip 4: Know what can and cannot be shipped from Vietnam to India 

Navigating the maze of banned and restricted items for import in India is crucial for any business looking to expand its footprint in the Indian market. Doing so is not just about compliance but also ensuring smooth trade operations, minimising disruptions, and mitigating any potential legal consequences

India has a specific list of items that are outright banned for a plethora of reasons. These reasons could range from environmental concerns to health and safety standards. For instance, certain chemicals harmful to the environment, wildlife products from endangered species, and unsafe electronics are wholly prohibited from entering the Indian market. Additionally, any items that are subjected to anti-dumping duty in India are closely scrutinised, ensuring that foreign entities do not sell goods in India at prices lower than their actual value, which could potentially harm the domestic market.  

Some examples of prohibited items for import into India are: 

  • Antiquities 
  • Animal original products and meat 
  • Wildlife products 
  • Counterfeit and pirated goods 
  • Narcotic and psychotropic substances 
  • Chemical weapons 
  • Aero models 
  • Maps and literature where Indian external boundaries are shown incorrectly 

On the other hand, some items aren't entirely banned but are restricted. These could include specific agricultural products, certain types of machinery, or goods that need certification from specific Indian agencies. Shipping such items without the requisite permissions can lead to various consequences. Apart from potential legal repercussions, businesses might face their shipments being detained, incurring shipping costs from Vietnam to India without any return on investment, and a tarnished reputation. 

Restricted items for import into India include (but are not limited to): 

  • Firearms and ammunition 
  • Live bird and animals, including pets 
  • Plants and their produce (e.g. seeds, fruits) 
  • Endangered species of animals and plants, both alive or dead 
  • Gold and silver, other than ornaments 
  • Vintage products, replicas of antiques or weapons 
  • Medicines and drugs 
  • Sand and soil 

In essence, understanding and adhering to India’s import regulations are paramount. With DHL Express, businesses can benefit from our vast expertise in ensuring that packages comply with the necessary regulations for smooth and hassle-free shipping. 

Tip 5: Implement proper packaging and labelling 

An often overlooked yet crucial aspect of international shipping from Vietnam to India is packaging and labelling.  

Firstly, proper packaging ensures that the product inside remains secure and free from potential damages that can occur during parcel delivery or even door-to-door courier. This is especially crucial for fragile items or those susceptible to environmental factors like moisture or excessive heat. The right packaging material, be it bubble wrap, foam inserts, or sturdy boxes, provides a protective shield, reducing the risk of return shipments or unsatisfied customers

Moreover, adequate packaging also plays a pivotal role in branding. A well-packed item, neatly presented, enhances the recipient's unboxing experience. This leaves a lasting positive impression, essential for businesses aiming to establish trust and long-term relationships

Equally important is labelling. With India’s stringent customs regulations, clear and correct labelling is your parcel's passport for seamless customs clearance. India’s import requirements are specific about the information provided on labels, from detailing the contents to including the necessary certifications. For example, packaged foods products must contain additional labelling to indicate if the food is non-vegetarian or vegetarian, on top of the standard information such as name, ingredients, and best by date. Some ports may require specific paperwork as well, such as a signed and stamped Non-objection Form (N-Form) if your goods receiver is located outside of Mumbai. Any oversight in this area can quickly result in your shipment being held up, causing delays and possibly incurring additional costs. 

While your product’s quality is undoubtedly vital, the way it's packaged and labelled is an often underappreciated art that can make or break your international shipping experience.  

Choose DHL Express for your international express shipping to India 

For businesses and individuals in Vietnam wondering how they can tap into the lucrative Indian export market, DHL Express Vietnam stands as the beacon of reliability. With an extensive network, unparalleled expertise in Vietnam to India courier charges and regulations, and top-notch customer service, we ensure a hassle-free international express shipping and delivery experience that is second to none.  

Ready to grow your business? Create a business account today to unlock unparalleled advantages in your overseas trade, import, and export journey.