Sunday, April 3, 2011

Declaration of satellite phones made mandatory

In a bid to check smuggling by air passengers of satellite phones, which could be a potential weapon for terrorist activities, the government has made it mandatory for inbound travellers to declare them.
A new column has been inserted in the immigration or arrival card. The changes have been implemented following “increasing imports of satellite phones in passenger baggage” without obtaining authorisation, an official communication said.
“The CBEC desires that the Commissioners in-charge of International Airports ensure that instructions are complied with and correct forms are used by the arriving passengers,” a Central Board of Excise and Customs circular said.
In India, a satellite phone can be used only after getting a licence from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). At present, the use of specific types of Inmarsat terminal is permitted, while using Thuraya satellite phones without the DoT's permission is illegal.
In September, 2010, the Centre had asked Customs officials to be extra-vigilant at the airports following reports of smuggled satellite phones making their way into the hands of anti-national elements.
Another column on foreign currency has been introduced on the arrival card. Inbound passengers will now also have to declare if they are carrying forex in excess of $ 10,000.
A similar declaration has to be made if a traveller is carrying foreign currency notes worth over $ 5,000.

Notification issued

The changes in the arrival card have been made after the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification in this regard.

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