Exporters sending secondary raw materials such as waste paper to India for recycling need to complete Form 6 and Form 9 transboundary movement documents.
These documents relate to the international movement of hazardous waste and are required by Indian Customs – even though the UK for example does not classify waste paper as hazardous, and Italy no longer classifies waste paper as waste at all.
Form 6 and Form 9 documents are drawn from a suite of 15 forms that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, provide in accordance with its Hazardous Waste Management Rules (HWMR). They relate to the generation, management, transport, treatment, recovery, processing, recycling, use, sale, transfer and disposal of hazardous waste in India.
What information is needed for Form 6 and Form 9?
Both Form 6 and Form 9 require information about where the shipment came from, how it travelled, where it’s going – and what the material is. They both require a declaration by the exporter that they have abided by the relevant rules and regulations relating to the transboundary movement of waste, and a declaration by the importer or waste processor that the material is destined for recycling.
These documents need to be accompanied by a chemical analysis report ‘from a laboratory accredited or recognised by the exporting country’ in line with the CPCB’s updated Hazardous and other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016.
How do the forms differ?
According to HWMR, Form 6 is the responsibility of the recycler or re-processor rather than the exporter, although the form itself states that details can be furnished by either.
Form 9 differs from Form 6 in that it goes into greater detail about the nature of the materials being shipped. The relevant information contained in Form 9 is provided to the transporter of the consignment for its onward journey from its port of arrival in India to its place of recycling. This will tell the emergency services what material they are dealing with, and measures to be taken if there’s a spillage for example. The waste also needs to be labelled in line with the requirements of Form 8.
Who do the forms get sent to?
UK exporters typically include the completed Form 6 and Form 9 in document packs that are forwarded to the bank handling the transaction. These documents need to be received by the bank before the shipment arrives at port. Some banks require receipt of the so-called ‘docs pack’ 10 days in advance.
Once the shipment has arrived in India and been paid for, the bank then releases the forms to the customer. The customer submits the forms to the port’s Customs authority. This enables the goods to leave the port and continue their onward journey to their recycling destination.
Do I need an agent in India to help with compliance?
Exporters who use an agent in India may be able to delegate some of the bureaucratic processes involved in complying with Indian hazardous waste rules. The local guidance and contacts provided by a trusted local agent can be valuable when different interpretations exist about how the rules are applied.
On the other hand, it’s sensible for exporters to know what the rules actually state, and be aware of amendments that frequently occur. If issues arise, it’s usually the exporter not the agent who is liable. For this reason I’ll be writing another article that scrutinises HWMR 2016 and shares my understanding of subsequent amendments insofar as they apply to UK exporters. Please note that I am not a lawyer and nothing contained in these articles constitutes legal advice.
Why are there so many forms?
For digital natives, the duplication of information across Form 6, Form 9, the UK Annex VII, and the bill of lading can appear unnecessary and inefficient. Delays, fines and penalties arising from data discrepancies in paper documents are a significant cost to exporters. These are an inevitable consequence of paper-based processes and information silos.
Does digitalisation offer a better way?
Legislative efforts are underway to digitalise international waste trading, especially customs formalities. The UK Electronic Trade Documents Act came into force on 20 September 2023. It puts digital documents such as electronic bills of lading on the same legal footing as their paper originals. The UK government’s ambition to create a digitised border is shared by other governments such as Singapore which has passed similar legislation. The Government of India is currently not one of them. While some Indian port authorities have shown interest in digitalisation, Indian banks for example still require original paper documents with a wet signature.
Many governments have been slow to embrace digitalisation. International agreement on data standards between banks, customs authorities and legislators remains elusive. Until that happens, most exporters and importers are going to be stuck with laborious and error-prone paper form-filling.