The concept of metrology is relatively alien to several individuals. It is only in the recent past that most people in urban India started becoming aware of the laws of Legal Metrology. The question that remains unanswered for many is what is the significance of legal metrology. Let’s understand this in simple words. Metrology is the science of weights and measures, and the legal metrology act was established in 2009. It is a distinct section of the Department of Consumer Affairs and functions as a regulatory body that monitors the import, manufacturing as well as all commercial enterprises which are engaged in devices used for measurement and weighing of products. Every Indian importer of pre-packaged goods has to first acquire an LMPC certificate. This is mandatory under rule 27 of the LMPC (Department of consumer affairs). Importers of pre-packaged goods can apply for registration within 3 months (90 days) from the date that they started their import of such goods. The LMPC certificate's full form is Legal Metrology Packaged Commodity, and this is binding on importers of commodities that are prepared and packaged before becoming commercially available. Popularly referred to as convenience foods, some of these include yoghurt, cheese, vegetables, meat, snacks, protein bars, and varieties of instant oatmeal.
Did you know? That as per global research and reports, India holds the record for consuming the largest volume of pre-packaged goods!
What Are Pre-packaged Goods?
Pre-packaged goods are packed and sealed before becoming available to the masses. As a consumer, you are not able to test the flavour, aroma or any other property of such commodities. The interesting aspect of such products is that the chances of manipulating the quantity are zero. However, not much can be said about such products adhering to the laws that regulate packaging. The number of consuming foods that are defined as pre-packaged goods is innumerable. Some of these include dried fruits, soups, dried vegetables, energy drinks, energy bars, breakfast cereals, frozen meals, flavoured yoghurt varieties, canned jams and butter, and fruit cocktails, among numerous others. Products like cement, chemical wires, wool, paint, as well as refrigerators are defined as pre-packaged goods.
Also Read: What are the Pros and Cons of Free Trade?
What Is the Importance of Legal Metrology?
Legal metrology symbolises consumer protection and ensures that all commerce transactions of goods on a national and international platform resort to genuine and correct weights and measures. Today, almost 99.9% of merchandise that is sold displays the type of ingredients, weight, usage directions and the details of manufacturers on the packaging. In the case of pre-packaged foods, there are reasons to doubt the date of production and freshness, which could have a reverse impact on health. Legal metrology plays a crucial role in -
- The promotion of social as well as economic benefits
- Helps curb unfair commerce transactions and enhances the level of ethics of commerce traders
- Acts as a catalyst in enabling commercial businesses to oblige to the requisite trade practices in a genuine manner
- Protects the interests of the suppliers of commodities as well as the end-users
What Is an LMPC Certificate for Importers?
In the last few years, there has been an increasing awareness in understanding the safety and risks involved in the consumption of pre-packaged goods. This led to a more firm monitoring of such goods. Rule 27 of LMPC has made it obligatory for all importers, manufacturers as well as commercial packers to apply for a Packer registration. This is also termed the LMPC certificate. The central, as well as the state governments, are authorised to furnish this registration.
The concerned applicants have to file an application within 3 months (90 days) from the date of having initialised their import activities. Importers have to comply with the mandatory rules before importing the products into India. Some of these include-
- Name of the country to which the products are native
- Name and details of manufacturers, i.e. it should state, ‘packed by’ or ‘manufactured by.’
- Date of manufacturing
- Date of import
- Generic name of the product
- Best used before – the date should be stated for consumers to understand the shelf-life of the product.
- The LMPC certificate has to be acquired before the imported goods arrive, or else they are not cleared by the customs authorities.
These are binding upon the importers through the declarations for food commodities vary from the declarations of non-consumable products.
Where Should One Apply for an LMPC Certificate?
Applications for an LMPC certificate are possible both offline as well as online. There are a number of Indian states which assist in this registration at a state level. In case of non-availability of online services, you can file your application in person at the legal metrology department in your city. You can also take recourse to paid legal advice and allow the concerned person to complete the necessary formalities for you. There are many officials who assist individuals in these matters and help in filing the application.
How to Apply for an LMPC Certificate and What Are the Costs Involved?
Given below is the list of documents required for applying for an LMPC certificate.”
- Details of the importer-exporter code which is provided by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)
- Certificate of GST registration
- Digital photographs of the said applicant
- Proof of identity – residential, driver’s license
- Aadhaar card
- Registration certificate of the business
- A single sample of the label will be fastened onto the surface of the packaged product.
- If the commercial enterprise in question is established under the 2013 Companies Act, the applicant must furnish copies of the articles of association (AOA) and the memorandum of association (MOA)
- Proof of the commercial premises
- A no-objection certificate from the state pollution control board
- The demand for documents varies across the states, and the applicant should obtain clarity on the same
- The application has to be filed within a time frame of 3 months (90 days) from the date of starting the import activity
- A fee of ₹500 is mandatory for every application
- After all the formalities are completed, the concerned authorities conduct an inspection of the applicant’s commercial premises. Once they find everything satisfactory, they proceed with the registration and furnish the importer with an LMPC certificate within 20 days.
- In case of any irregularities in the application, the applicant receives it within seven days.
- In case importers need to make some changes to the certificate, they can request the same after payment of ₹100.
How to Apply for an LMPC Certificate?
You can apply for an LMPC certificate online or offline. Every Indian state has its distinct website which you will have to visit. In the case of the state of Andhra Pradesh e.g., You will have to follow the following steps:
- Log on to the official website - https://www.apindustries.gov.in/
- Go to the section for applying for an LMPC certificate and click on it
- You will have to key in all your details and upload the following documents:
- GST certificate
- Certificate of incorporation
- Proof of address
- Import/Export code
- List of products manufactured or Imported
- Copy of labels
- Review the details and the documents you have uploaded once more
- Submit the form
Once your details and all documents are validated, you will receive an approval call. The time frame varies across the States but should ideally not exceed more than 10-12 days. After the approval, a representative meets you in person to guide you accordingly.
You can visit the Legal metrology department of the city or state you live in and ask for a physical form. The application process is the same as the online process. You will have to furnish certified copies of all the documents which are mandatory. Once your application is reviewed, the concerned authority pays a visit to your premises to conduct an on-site inspection. If the person is satisfied, your application gets registered and you receive the certificate for the same within 7-10 working days.
As per the rules laid down, one can file an application within 90 days of starting the import activities.
What Are an Importer's Responsibilities?
The responsibilities of importers are as follows:
- Furnish all details – name and address of the importer
- Furnish details of the manufacturer of the product
- State country of origin
- Mention the generic name of the product
- State the exact quantity of the product
- Mention the correct date of manufacture – date, month, and year
- Mention the month and year of importing the product
- State the correct price of the product – maximum retail price
- Mention details like dimensions or capacity wherever required
The above details can be stated in Hindi or English as well as the local language if a particular state insists on the same.
Why do Importers Need an LMPC Certificate?
An LMPC certificate establishes the rights of importers, and it facilitates the clearance of the imported commodities. In the absence of an LMPC certificate, the customs authorities delay the release of the goods. This can have a cascading effect on importers leading to unnecessary delays, additional expenses like penalties, convincing the authorities and mental stress. This also negatively impacts the brand value of the imported goods and the business.
What Are the Various Rule Violations and Penalties?
The penalties vary according to the offences committed by importers under the LMPC Act. Some of these are given in the table below:
Type of violation
Amount of fine imposed / Punishment
Importers, packers, manufacturers, dealers who flout the prescribed standards of measures and weights
Fine of ₹10,000 or a year of
imprisonment or both
If Importers, packers, manufacturers, dealers who violate section 11 of the LMPC Act
Fine of ₹10,000 or a year of imprisonment or both
If Importers, packers, manufacturers, dealers deliver quantities less than what the end-user has paid for
Fine of ₹10,000 or a year of imprisonment or both
Importers and manufacturers who fail to furnish documents detailing their annual returns
Fine of ₹5,000 or a year of imprisonment, or both
If the labels denote an unverified weight – the said importer will be penalized
Fine can vary between ₹2,000 and ₹10,000 or a year of imprisonment or both
Importers, sellers, distributors, and manufacturers who make a sale of products which don’t have an LMPC declaration on the packaging. Every additional offence increases the amount of the fine by almost twice the sum and may include a year of jail or both a fine as well as jail.
Fine of ₹25,000
This article clearly outlines the importance of an LMPC certificate for importers. It gives an insight into the various aspects of an LMPC registration, its relevance and the penalties involved in the absence of one. It helps understand the documentation involved in filing an application for the same, as well as the penalties for violation of the rules laid down under the said LMPC Act.