Automatic import license refers to the import license for goods that require automatic import management legally issued by the issuing agency authorized by the Ministry of Commerce.
In the automatic import licensing system, there is no limit to the number of the import licenses to be issued to the importer, that is, for all goods listed under the license, the importer could import as long as they apply. The purposes of automatic import license are statistic collection and supervision, providing the government with information about major goods that could possibly do harms to domestic industry.
The application of automatic import license is free of charge. Normally speaking, the function of such licenses is not to restrict the import of products, but to provide statistics for import trade. Import License Program Agreement classifies import licenses into automatic and non-automatic licenses. Article 2 of the agreement regulates that “all members of the party acknowledge that if there is no other suitable procedures available, the use of automatic import license is necessary.” Therefore, the agreement allows each member to maintain the automatic import license. At the same time, the agreement stipulates the applicable rules and operation procedure of the automatic import license: the implementation of automatic import license shall not put restrict on goods listed under the license when the use of such license is necessary. Any individual, firm or organization in the business of automatic import could is qualified to apply for the license under the premise of fulfilling the law requirements of the importer. The letter of application could be submitted on any working day prior to the customs clearance of goods. As long as the application procedures are complete, approval can be made upon receiving the application within the management practicable. It takes no more than 10 working days.
In the year of 2013, goods listed under automatic import license are as follows:
I. Non-electromechanical products: beef, pork, by-products, lamb, chicken, milk, milk powder, soybean, canola, vegetable oil, soybean, tobacco, acetate tow, copper, coal, paper, scrap, aluminum, copper, iron ore, bauxite, crude oil, refined oil, natural gas, aluminum, fertilizer and steel, etc.
II. Second, machinery and electronic goods, including:
a. Product with commodity code issued by the Ministry of Commerce: CD production equipment, tobacco machinery, mobile communication products, satellite radio, television equipment and key components, automotive products, aircraft, ships and game consoles, etc;
b. Product with commodity code issued by local departments or office: steam turbine, engine (not for vehicles in Chapter 87) and key components, hydro-turbine and other power equipment, chemical equipment, food machinery, engineering machinery, paper machinery, textile machinery, metal smelting and processing equipment, metal processing machine tools, electrical equipment, railway locomotives, automotive products, aircraft, marine and medical equipment, etc.
3.How to apply automatic import license
The first step is to download and fill the registration form from the website of the Ministry of Commerce. The form should be stamped and signed or stamped by legal representative. The organization code certificate should also be provided.
Step two is to take stamped copy of business license to the Department of Commerce. Details of procedures and required documents could also be found on the official website of the Ministry of Commerce. Requirements for foreign companies and domestic ones are different.
4. Non-automatic import license
Non-automatic import license is also known as special import license. To import goods listed under non-automatic import license, application must be submitted to relevant departments. And the import could only be conducted after the approval and license are issued. Normally speaking, there is quantity limit in non-automatic import license. Relevant departments of the importing country puts limit on the import quotas for goods from different countries or regions. The amount of import may also be decided according to the sequence of submitting applications. The importer shall not import unless he get the import quota and import license.
Non-automatic import License
Non-automatic import license is essentially an administrative method to limit import amount. It is a common method of non-tariff barriers. Given the universal protocol of such measures, the agreement does not prohibit it directly. But the agreement does have requirements for the transparency and predictability. Article 3 of the agreement stipulates the detailed procedures of non-automatic import license: non-automatic import licenses should not go beyond the role it should play in the remanufacturing of additional trade restrictions or put further restrictions on trade distortions. If the license is to be used for purpose beyond limit on amount, relevant members should provide sufficient information, including amount, total value of the quota, deadline for the quota and any other adjustments or changes, to other members and traders for better understanding. The importing country shall not discriminate different individuals, firms or organizations that meet legal requirements. The importing country shall provide equal opportunities for application and obtaining the license. For those who fail to get the approval, the right to relief in accordance with domestic procedures should be provided.
In addition, it is suggested in the agreement to establish an “import license committee” composed of representatives in order to provide opportunity of exchange and discussion for the members. Information about the implementation of import license should also be reported to the committee by the members.
Automatic import license is valid for six months.