Update: As per a tweet from the official Twitter handle of the GST Council on the evening of 1st Feb, 2018, it has been decided to extend the trial phase for generation of e-way bill, both for inter and intra-State movement of goods, in view of the difficulties faced by businesses in generating the e-way bill due to technical glitches. It shall be made compulsory from a date to be announced.
At the 22nd GST Council meeting, it was decided and recommended that the e-way bill rules in GST shall be introduced in a staggered manner from 1st January, 2018, and will be rolled out nationwide from 1st April, 2018. However, at the 24th GST Council meeting, it was announced that the e-way bill rules, GST specific, will be live from the 1st of February, 2018 – a full two months ahead of the earlier plan. The response still seemed to be positive, as 15 states had already started to use the trial facility seamlessly to generate over 2 lakh e-way bills every day. But on the first day itself of going live, the e-way bill GST rules had to be deferred yet again due to technical glitches appearing in the portal. As per the e-way bill rules latest information, talks are still in progress with industry experts and customers to work out a feasible technology and timeline for the same.
Nevertheless, the e-way bill may be expected to be live again in a few days, and thus it is imperative for businesses to be thorough with the e-way bill rules.
E-way Bill Rules – A Background
Considering the previous taxation regime, the Central government was empowered to levy duties and taxes on the manufacturing and rendering of services, while the State governments were empowered to levy taxes on the intra-state sale of goods, in which movement of goods happen within state jurisdictions. When the sale of goods would involve movement of goods across different states, the Centre was empowered to levy tax on such sales, and the revenue so collected, was shared by the Centre and the State.
This is the main reason, why strict monitoring of the movement of goods was required – both within the state and outside the state. The fact that there has always been rampant evasion of taxes and leakage of tax revenue was one of the prime reasons why most states over the years, had multiple check-posts along their national highways and borders. These check-posts mainly monitored the movement of goods and ensured that the relevant duties and taxes have been paid on the goods being transported.
Thus, a person causing movement of goods had to be equipped with various documents like invoice, challan, road permits, way bill, and so on which needed to be produced at the check-post of most states for inspection. Apart from these, certain states had mandated the transporter of goods to obtain the transit pass or declaration form. However, with the evolution of technology, there were significant efforts by various states to digitalize the processes involved in the movement of goods – such as e-Sugam in Karnataka and Form 402 in Gujarat, which are prevalent way bill rules. However, the paperwork and cross-checks still remained in place, which was one of the main reasons why a system based on technology was explored, which could serve the purpose of the whole nation. And thus, e-way bill rules under GST came into existence.
GST E-way Bill Rules for Documentation and Inspection
As per the GST way bill rules, the transporter or the person in charge of a conveyance should carry the following documents:
1. The invoice or bill of supply or delivery challan
2. A physical copy of the e-way bill or the e-way bill number.
At the place of verification, the officer may intercept any vehicle to verify the E-way bill or the E-way bill number in physical form for all interstate and intrastate movement of goods. On the ground of suspicion of tax evasion, a physical verification of the vehicle can be carried out by an officer after obtaining necessary approval from the commissioner or an officer authorized on his behalf. As per the e-way rules, if the physical verification of vehicle is done at one place – within the state or in any other state, no further physical verification will be carried out again during the transit, unless specific information of tax evasion is made available subsequently.
After every inspection, as per the e-way bill rules and regulations, the officer needs to record the details of the inspection of goods in Part A of Form GST EWB 03 within 24 hrs of inspection and the final report must be recorded in Part B of Form GST EWB 03 within 3 days of inspection. If the vehicle is detained for more than 30 minutes, the transporter has an option to complain by uploading the details in Form GST EWB 04.
GST E-way Bill Rules for E-way Bill Format
As per the rules of e-way bill, the e-way bill format in GST comprises of 2 parts – Part A and Part B.
The Part A of E-way Bill in Form EWB 01 aims to collect the details of consignment, and associated details, such as GSTIN of the recipient, place of delivery, Invoice or Challan number, value of goods, HSN Code, reason for transportation and the transport document number – which could indicate either one of the Goods Receipt Number, Railway Receipt Number, Airway Bill Number or Bill of Lading Number. In Part B of Form EWB 01, the vehicle number in which goods are transported needs to be mentioned. This will be filed by the transporter in the common portal.
As such, if the e-way bill new rules are implemented with care, it is expected to significantly change the logistics scenario in India, and make cross-border movement of goods a much more seamless activity for businesses across the country.
E-way Bill Rules: Changes as per 26th GST Council Meeting
On the 8th of March, 2018, the government and the GST Council declared some changes via the latest e-way bill notifications, in a bid to simplify the e-way bill process. These changes, along with the notifications of the 26th GST Council meeting on the 10th of March, are the basis on which the e-way bill will be going live across the nation on the 1st of April, 2018, as per the latest e-way bill news.
The e-way bill changes are listed below:
Individual Consignment Value to be considered
Given that a single transporter may be transporting multiple consignments for various suppliers, a possible scenario was that the total value being carried by the transporter was more than INR 50,000, although the individual consignments did not exceed INR 50,000. In such a case, an e-way bill was mandated. However, under the new e-way bill notifications, there will be no need of the e-way bill, even if the total value of consignments being carried exceeds INR 50,000, as long as the individual consignments are valued at less than INR 50,000.
Change in valuation of consignment for E-way Bill applicability
An e-way bill is to be generated if the value of the consignment is more than INR 50,000 – however, the value used to include both taxable and exempt supplies under GST. Under the e-way bill notifications, only the value of taxable supplies i.e. taxable value along with the GST tax amount, will be considered to determine the valuation of the consignment, which in turn determine, whether an e-way bill is required or not. Exempt supplies, will be left out of the valuation.
Change in the distance norms for E-way Bill applicability
Earlier, e-way bill was not mandatory for goods which are moved within a State or Union Territory, if the distance was less than 10 KM. Also, the transporter was not obligated to furnish the conveyance or vehicle details, if the distance from supplier to transporter, or the distance from transporter to recipient, was less than 10 KM. Under the new e-way bill rules, this limit in distance has been increased to 50 KM.
Option for Transporters to extend validity period of E-way Bill
Earlier, upon the expiry of the validity period of a particular e-way bill, the transporter had to generate a fresh e-way bill. However, now, under exceptional circumstances, especially in the case of trans-shipment, where the vehicle is getting changed, a transporter will have the option to extend the validity period of the e-way bill, and update the vehicle details therein.
Modified time limit for acceptance or rejection of E-way Bill
Earlier, there was a fixed time limit of 72 hours, within which the recipient had to accept or reject an e-way bill which was tagged against him. If no such communication was obtained from the recipient within 72 hours of generation of the e-way bill, it was deemed to be accepted. However, as per the latest e-way bill news, the recipient has to accept or reject the e-way bill within 72 hours or, by the time the goods are delivered, whichever is earlier. The addition of the clause, will now completely eliminate those scenarios, in which customers would have an option to reject the e-way bill within 72 hours, even if the goods were delivered.
New Dimension to E-way Bill Validity
Earlier, the validity of the e-way bill was determined solely by the distance across which the consignment was being transported. For a distance up to 100 KM, the validity was 1 day, and for every subsequent 100 KM, the validity too was extended by 1 day. However, under the revised e-way bill rules, a new aspect has been added towards understanding the validity of an e-way bill, namely “Over Dimensional Cargo”. While the validity rules for all goods, which are not under the category of Over Dimensional Cargo, remains the same, the new validity rules for goods, which fall under Over Dimensional Cargo, are as follows:
1.Up to 20 KM – 1 day
2.For every 20 KM or part thereof thereafter – 1 additional day
Other Changes in E-way Bill Rules
Some other e-way bill updates are as follows:
a. Railways has been exempted from generating and carrying of e-way bill with the condition that without the production of an e-way bill, railways will not deliver the goods to the recipient. However, railways will be required to carry invoice or delivery challan etc.
b. Public conveyance has also been included as a mode of transport and the responsibility of generating the e-way bill in case of movement of goods by public transport would be that of the consignor or consignee.
c. Registered job worker can also generate the e-way bill in the case of inter-state movement of goods.
d. E-commerce operator or courier company can also generate e-way bill, on behalf of the consignor, in case the consignment is valued at more than INR 50,000 on authorization by the consignor
e. No e-way bill is needed for transit cargo from / to Nepal or Bhutan.
f. An additional field called “Place of Dispatch” has been added in the e-way bill to capture movement of goods on account of “Bill-To-Ship-To” supply.
g. Once verified by any tax officer, the same conveyance will not be subject to a second check in any State or Union territory, unless and until, specific information for the same is received
h. In case of movement of goods by railways, airways and waterways, the e-way bill can be generated even after commencement of movement of goods.