GST Confusions - Is GST applicable for printed books - Is UPS, PacktPub and Lightning Source printing saying so?


Is GST applicable for the import of printed books? Going through internet pages I thought it was NIL, until courier company and PacktPub publishers convinced me otherwise. Yes, these GST rules are a bit confusing for a common man. Continue reading if you want to understand what I mean.

Going through below public links I had the misconception that there is no GST for books and the HSN code 4901 support it.


Related Export / Import HSN Code: 49011010, 49011020, 49019100, 49019900.

However, executives from UPS (asomashekar, mshivraj and nkycblr) told that according to their knowledge and circulars available if individuals order and use the books for personal use, we need to pay arounbd 42% of the book's invoice value in import duty/taxes as it is considered a personal commodity. Above codes are valid if imported by an entity.

For a prepaid order of books worth 9000+ for which I already paid shipping charges, I need to pay more than 4000+ more to get my items from courier because of this GST rule. Even PacktPub took some amount as shipping charges already and never mentioned this extra charges while buying the item.

Ok, let me tell the story now. I ordered a set of 5 books from paying their invoice amount plus the shipping cost. According to their terms and conditions, that is the only amount I will need to pay. outsourced the book printing to another company called Lightning Source. I am not sure if told Lightning Source about the terms and conditions. Lightning Source assigned the shipping to

The invoice shared by Lightning Source with, which was later shared with me by had HARM code as 4901990075.

I did a quick Google search and could see that this HARM code means 4901990075 denote Rack Size Paperbound Books, Others.

My original invoice had PacktPub details though.

According to, and taught me that GST rules are not applicable as I will use the books for personal use and only applicable for corporates. Hence I need to pay arounbd 42% of the book's invoice value in import duty/taxes if I need the book. 

Getting a reply from PacktPub is difficult even being an author myself. Will share this with Light Source and to see if they need to add anything. 



From UPS (29-March-2019):

We have only advised the rule of land and it is mandate regardless of imports made to India . These are pre-requisite defined by Indian Customs Act. There is a clear process defined on to use HSN 9804 when imports made by Individuals and commodity code HSN 4901 to be used when imports made by entity with valid IEC (Import Export Code No.) and GST (Goods and Service Tax) Registration. The changes on HSN for individuals was proposed by GST Committee under HSN 9804 as part of Made to India . We as an authorized courier , should comply with customs regulations. We have also advised the customer to meet the customs authorities in case if they feel we are advising wrong.

My response (29-March-2019):

Why should I care. I am not responsible for import or export. PacktPub should do import and export and then ship it locally to me. I was even ready to provide KYC documents, but I do not want to pay an extra amount as I have paid everything. It is clear from PacktPub terms and conditions, my invoice and PacktPub mail confirmation that I do not have to pay any more money.


From UPS (29-March-2019):

UPS also confirmed through mail that, for all legality the importer is me and I need to take all responsibility. 

My response (29-March-2019):

mporter is: a person or organization that brings goods or services into a country from abroad for sale. I did not do any of those. In any case, I paid all money including shipping charges to PacktPub. So there is nothing else to pay from my side. Max I can do is provide KYC for clearance.


From UPS (29-March-2019):

UPS says, I called them cheats and I can't remember when I asserted they are cheats. I told them so and this was their response: I have a mail sent to my team , which upsets us being a professional organization and having advised correctly as per law.

My response (29-March-2019):

Being a professional organization you should first check with your seller and not harass the receiver. I have not initialted any contract with either UPS or Lightning source. I don't even know anything about these companies. So I am not liable to answer them as well. 

I have initiated a contract with PacktPub when I ordered the books. Even if you forget about the money I already paid for shipment, PacktPub has not officially told me that a company called UPS will be delivering. Even in your invoice you have mentioned a company called Lightning Source. PacktPub has not officially told me about a company called Lightning Source as well. So how can I be sure that some company is calling me to fraud me into paying money? Do you think frauds don't happen in this world?

The mail I sent was to clarify if they are cheating based on contradictory statement to the statements in and This has happened because UPS contacted me with a seller name I am not familar with and asked me to pay money. I can relate to one international shipment I ordered from a different seller, but with that seller I had paid all shipping costs.


From UPS (29-March-2019):

Based get clarified from shipper on this and let us know. We have explained and further would like to stop this conversation . Google definition is only tentative for legal interpretation but shall not acts as collaborative facts for interpretation.

Who is harassing the receiver ? if the so called receiver is unable to understand the law of country , is that an harassment ? . I think we are wasting too much on unwanted mails , please seek your shipper clarification for further process and let us know for future action for clearance

My response (29-March-2019):

Item was shipped by a party (Lightning Source) that I am not aware about. I have not even heard about them before. What if the item is something dangerous or hazardous? Above email address also I got from Google. So why and how I should contact them?

As I can relate this to my order from PacktPub I have put them as well in the cc. So let them reply. You may also check with your seller. I do not know them at all and find it risky to accept a parcel from someone I do not know. 

Harassment because. Item was shipped by a party (Lightning Source) that I am not aware about and you are asking me to pay money for that.


From Packt (29-March-2019):

We’re sorry for the confusion and the inconvenience caused. I’ll try my best to clear things and explain how things work. Please see the detailed explanation below:

  1. Lightning Source is our Print partner – All orders for India that are placed directly on our website are routed to Lightning Source in UK and customers are liable to pay the customs + clearance charges as per the applicable law where the books are to be delivered for paid orders. Order # PAC-19-29462560-2740055 was placed by you directly on our website, hence the custom duty charge.  

  2. The other order that you received from Chennai without having to pay customs duty +clearance charges was a free order which was placed by us manually and it was printed and shipped by our Print partner in India.

  3. UPS is a courier service - the amount that they are requesting you to pay is the  customs duty +clearance charges which is as per the Indian customs compliance WEF Post  GST implementation where personnel use commodities are to be classified with HSN 98049000 with applicable duties.

  4. We will still discuss this internally to find the best possible solution and get back to you by EOD on Monday.

My Response (29-March-2019):

I am really feeling bad to campaign against my book and my publisher. So please answer these simple questions:

  1. Why did you NOT notify about the extra charges? In any law it is mandatory to state any charges that may be incurred right?

  2. What do you mean by shipping charges of 525?

  3. Why is book import rules not applicable here? Why this is considered a commodity and not printed book?

    1. Ref: 



  4. Why did you NOT inform about a shipper different from Packt sending the books?


Update (30-March-2019):

I have raised an RTI request with GST council to clarify on the matter. Registration number is: GSTCN/R/2019/50096.


From Packt (Apr 2, 2019):

We will be reshipping your order through our printers in India to avoid any additional charges and this order will be reshipped at no cost to you.

Please confirm if "(+91) 9901162222" is your contact # so we can share it with our delivery team to help them deliver the order to you quickest.

Also, we will soon be updating our FAQ with the Duty/Custom charges information

We sincerely apologize for the trouble this has caused you. We await your reply.

My Response (Apr 2, 2019):

I wanted to know the quality of the original book. Hence I paid almost 3 times per book to order from Packt website. The book is also available on Amazon India for just around 3rd the prize. So how different is it from ordering from India directly for one third of the prize?

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