Way bill has not been defined in any Act or Rules. Going by the dictionary meaning, way bill is a physical document issued by a carrier giving details and instructions relating to the shipment of a consignment of goods. In the pre-GST era, supply of goods could not take place without obtaining the ‘waybills’ from VAT authorities. The way bill has now transcended into its new form, the e-way bill or the electronic way bill. Earlier, the centralized e-way bill rules were published but the implementation of the same was deferred as the forms were not ready. E-way bill is an improvement by the GST council over its former, which allows the movement of goods keeping some items of mass consumption out of its ambit.
E-way bill or an electronic way bill is required to transport any consignment value worth more than Rs.50, 000 within the country1 . It is a permit of sorts that will have details of the goods being transported. E-way bill will also be allowed to be generated or cancelled through SMS. A unique E-way bill number (EBN) is allocated and available to supplier, recipient and the transporter on generation of the E-way bill.
An E-way bill will be generated when there is a movement of goods-
- In relation to a ‘supply’
- For reasons other than ‘supply’ (like returns)
- Due to inward ‘supply’ from an unregistered dealer
The date from which the e-way bill will come into force is yet to be notified.
Goods kept out of E-Way bill purview
Certain goods of mass consumption such as vegetables, fruits, food grains, meat, bread, curd, books and jewellery are outside the ambit of E-way bill. Judicial and non judicial stamp paper, newspapers, khadi, Indian flag, human hair, LPG, kerosene, puja samagris, currency, heating aids, cheques are also outside the ambit of E-way bill. All these are indicative in nature and not exhaustive.
E-way bill will not be needed in case of goods transported by non motorized conveyance and where the goods are being transported from the port, air cargo complex and land customs station to an inland container depot or a container freight station for clearance by customs. Walking, bicycling and variants such as small-wheeled transport like cycle rickshaws, hand carts are categorized as non-motorized transport.
E way bill form contains two parts Part A contains certain fields like GSTN of recipient, place of delivery, invoice or challan number and date , value of goods, HSN of goods, reason for transportation and Part B containing the vehicle number.
|Situations||Who shall generate E-Way bill||When||Part||Form|
|Registered person causing movement of goods||Registered person||Before movement of goods||Before movement of goods||GST EWB-01|
|Registered person is a consignor or recipient of goods as consignee (own conveyance, hired, by railways, by air or by vessel)||Registered recipient||Before movement of goods||Fill part A
Fill Part B
|Registered person is a consignor or consignee and goods are handed over to transporter of goods for transportation by road||a. Transporter
b. Registered person
|Before movement of goods||a. Transporter to fill Part A
b.Registered person to fill Part B
|Transporter of goods transferring goods from one conveyance to another during transit||Transporter||Before movement of goods to the new conveyance||GST EWB-01|
|Unregistered person under GST and recipient is registered||Registered recipient||Before movement of goods||Fill Part A||GST EWB-01|
|Consignor or consignee has not generated E-way bill even when consignment value is more than Rs. 50,000.||Transporter||Before movement of goods||Before movement of goods|
Exemptions provided for movement of goods within 10 kilometres
Where the goods are transported for a distance of less than 10 kilometres within the State or Union territory, from the place of business of the consignor to the place of business of the transporter, the supplier or the transporter is not mandated to furnish the details of conveyance in Part B of Form GST EWB-01. Although, Part A of Form GST EWB-01 has to be filled. Further, the details of conveyance relating to the movement of goods from the transporter to the consignee in the course of transit, need not furnished in the e-way bill.
Generation of E-way bill in case of multiple consignments
In case of multiple consignments that are to be transported in one conveyance, the serial number of E-way bills generated in respect of each such consignment may be indicated by the transporter electronically on the common portal. A consolidated e-way bill in Form GST EWB-02 may be generated by the transporter before the movement of goods.
Validity period of an E-way bill
An E-way bill is valid for periods as listed below based on the distance of travelled goods.
|Up to 100 km||One day|
|For every 100 km or part thereof thereafter||One additional day|
The Commissioner may by notification extend the validity period of E-way bill for certain category of goods. Under certain circumstances where the goods cannot be transported within the validity period of the E-way bill, the transporter may generate another E-way bill after updating the details in Part B of Form GST EWB-01.
Mechanism for cancellation of E-way bill
An E-way bill shall be cancelled within 24 hours of its generation in either of the cases:
- When goods are not transported
- When goods are not transported as per the specifications of E-way bill.
An E-way bill cannot be cancelled if it has already been verified in transit. The facility of generation and cancellation of E-way bill will be available through SMS. The E-Way bill may be cancelled electronically on the common portal or through a facilitation centre notified by the Commissioner.
Detention of vehicle
Where a vehicle has been detained for a period exceeding thirty minutes, the information can be uploaded by the transporter in FORM GST EWB-04.
Such reporting facility regarding detention and stoppage of vehicle is a welcome provision in GST Rules and shall imply more accountability for tax officials & a moral check on unnecessary harassment of transport operators and traders.
Documents to be carried by the person in charge of conveyance
The person in charge of conveyance shall carry:
- Invoice or bill of supply or delivery challan
- A copy of the E-way bill or the E-way bill number, either physically or mapped to a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) embedded on to the conveyance in such manner as may be notified by the Commissioner.
A registered person may obtain an Invoice Reference Number from the common portal by uploading the tax invoice issued in FORM GST INV-1. This will be verified by the officer and will be valid for a period of thirty days from the date of uploading. The Commissioner may by notification, require the person in charge of the conveyance to carry the following instead of the E-way bill:
- Tax invoice or bill of supply or bill of entry: or
- A delivery challan, where goods are transported by reasons other than by way of supply.
Verification of Documents and Conveyances
The Commissioner or an officer empowered by him in this behalf may authorize the proper officer for verification of the required documents. The E-way bill or E-way bill number may be verified for all inter-state and intra-state movement of goods.
Radio Frequency Identification Device readers shall be installed at places where the verification is to be carried out. The verification of movement of vehicles will be done through such device readers where the E-way bill has been mapped with the said device. Physical verification of specific conveyances shall be carried out by officers in charge if they have information of tax evasion against them.
The notification does not clarify as to whether Commissioner of GST or Commissioner of Customs shall be the concerned designated authority for such implementation.
Physical Verification shall be conducted only once if any, during the course of transit
Where physical verification of goods has already been carried out during transit, no further verification will be conducted in the same except in cases when the officer is has specific information of tax evasion.
Report of verification by Officers:
Every officer must record online the summary report of every goods in transit in Part A of Form GST EWB-03 within twenty four hours of inspection. The final report should be recorded in Part B of Form GST EWB-03 within three days of such inspection.
Supplies made to SEZ
In case of export supplies E way bill is not required. Since SEZ is covered under Section 16 of IGST Act, 2017 which relates to export of goods, E way bill is not required for such supply to SEZ.
But the person making supplies to SEZ shall generate FORM GST INV 01 which needs to carries by the person in charge of the vessel in case of E-Way bill.
Ambiguity regarding E way Bill
Although the rules on E way bill have delayed by the Government but still the Government fails to provide the clarification on the following issues:
A confusion creeps in as to the meaning of ‘value of consignment’ as to whether value covers only the item cost of consignment or does it include tax and freight. So accordingly it can be concluded that, the value should be the invoice value or the assessable value as per Section 15 of CGST read with Valuation Rules.
Although GST council has given an option that an unregistered person can also generate E-way bill, but the procedure for generation of E-way bill by unregistered person is not yet specified.
Way bill had been a nightmare for the suppliers in the pre-GST regime as compliance around waybills had caused restricted movement of goods across states. This anomaly is expected to be rectified via E-way bill. Most states have dismantled the border check posts that operated previously, thereby reducing the time needed for movement of goods across states. Generation of E way bill will be technology driven with little human intervention. This will ensure better accountability and easier verification. However, such reporting requirements will definitely take a toll on small traders and un organised transporters who are less acquainted with digital mode of working and will lead to their harassment at the hands of tax officials. Technological aspects such as internet coverage and e-literacy will have to be taken care of. If implemented wisely, E way bills have the potential to make transportation of goods easier and faster.
1 Notification No. 27/2017 – Central Tax dated 30.08.2017
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