Ordeals of a small exporter in India. Part 2

7 min readFeb 22, 2021

Part 1 here. Thought that things would end there, but they evidently didn’t.

My motivation: To document the ATROCIOUS user experience on a government portal in the hope that it helps other users avoid my pitfalls and that someday, someone from the icegate.gov.in portal development team actually reads it and attempts to make things better to give “Atmanirbhar India” a chance.

I finally was able to sign up but ONLY after turning on ‘compatibly view’ for icegate.gov.in in Internet Explorer 11 on 18th Feb.

On turning this on, all the links on the first page move to some arbitrary x,y position on the screen from the actual buttons. You have to move your mouse around till you see the correct url on hovering over it and of course you can make an educated guess to figure our the login/ sign up link.

You have to click in the red eliptical area (marked by me) for the signup screen in compatibility view IE11!

They designed the front page for non compatibility view (normal) but forgot that for the sign-up functionality the site works only in compatibility view 🤦🏾‍♀️

So I should now be able to login and update that damned AD code? Ha, ha, haven’t I learnt anything yet? NOT so soon. I then got an email that my application has been forwarded to the competent authorities for ‘approval’!


And that it would take an arbitrary number of days for them to do it and of course they can’t commit to it. 😭😭😭

Got mail 4 days later saying that the application was rejected :(

Reason: “Authorization Letter on the letter head of the company should be signed by all directors of the company and to be self attested by the applicant.”

This is for an application that was digitally signed by me (director 1) using a class 3 DSC and physically signed by the other director (director 2).

So, what now?

The helpful folks at the Icegate helpline say that now I have to do the application process all over again :). Fun!

So I apply AGAIN with the ‘documents’ proper this time.

Got stuck at the final screen (where after having digitally signed the application), I have to also enter an OTP that was sent to my registered email-id. The correct OTP took about 40 minutes to reach me :)

PS: I even got an OTP the NEXT DAY for some reason. They seem to have some really lazy OTP sending servers. LOL. (So I’ve sent their webmaster and helpline and dgft technical details on where their servers are lagging)


Achievement unlocked. Application resubmitted. Of course I have to wait for ‘authorities’ to confirm or reject my application. A few days passed. Finally Saturday late night around 11 pm, I got an email saying that my application was finally accepted! YAY! And they helpfully included a password for me to login. All done? Of course not my friend. We’ve only just begun.

Through Saturday night and Sunday morning, I try logging in (on Internet Explorer, with compatibility, without, on Firefox, on Edge browser) but their server kept throwing some internal error and a very helpful error message as usual:

Login roulette

As advised, I call up their helpdesk again. They advice me to clear browser cache, history, restart system and that “everything is working fine at our end”.

I do all that and it try atleast a dozen times. But it came back with the same error.

Finally, lady luck decides to smile a bit and YES I WAS ABLE TO LOGIN to icegate. 11 days after I first attempted!!!


This time, I know where to find the hidden e-Sanchit. I use that to promptly upload the AD code letter from my bank. It works as advertised and gives me an IRN (a unique reference number for the document). I copy paste that to a note and then head back to the icegate portal home page.

There I click on Financial Services> Bank Account Management to reach a page where I can see my old bank AD code listed and a button to add the new AD code.

Now, the AD code given to me by the bank was 14 digits long. The input box for AD code is 11 digits long. Now try and guess what we’re supposed to do?

A lady at the helpdesk told me ‘paste first 11 digits’. Of course it doesn’t work. You have to use the first 7 digits and it shows AD code is valid tip. (I feel like a genius now).

The final step is to enter an OTP. Here’s where it gets weirder.

The text says, (as you can see in the screen above): ‘Please enter OTP received on your registered mobile number’.

Again, I wait, and wait and wait for the OTP which NEVER comes to my mobile number. I try Re-send OTP button as well. Nope. No use.

Then I randomly decide to open my email client. And BAM! I HAVE THE OTP in my EMAIL when the screen says its sent on my mobile number. I can’t even cry anymore. No more tears left. This is clearly a platform put together by incredibly immature programmers and unfortunately paid for by my tax money for my torture. :(

I enter the OTP and AD code should be added? No. No. No! Haven’t you learnt ANYTHING. I now have to wait for the gods at customs to approve (or reject- which is more likely) this.

So another day passes. This morning I check and find that the ‘location code’ against which the new AD code was added was for INWFD6 Bangalore while one of the helpdesk customer care folks had told me that for air freight, it needs to be INBLR4.

So, I see a Modify Bank Details button and as any normal person would, I clicked it. HORROR OF HORRORS. I should have known better. The system was not designed for normal people. I should NOT have clicked it. But too late.

I entered all the details and again was confronted by an OTP screen.

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text….

If you need any further proof for lazy programming, look no further, just look at the screen above to see Latin being promoted on the Indian government’s custom’s portal. Lorem Ipsum…. :). Rajbhasha folks!

After waiting arbitrarily long, I received an OTP. I enter it and hope that things would end well. Nope.

“some technical error”

But I tried again and this is what it ended up:

Even the system is rejecting me now :(

Now my first AD Code which was all GREEN and Processed has gone Yellow ‘System Pending’ and the second one is Red, ‘System Rejected’. Error 109 :( :(

WHY ICEGATE, WHY? Is what I asked the Icegate helpdesk number.


This is because I tried updating an ad code while it was pending customs clearance. Well, the system knew full well that it was pending clearance. WHY THEN DID IT ALLOW ME TO EVEN CLICK THE DAMN MODIFY AD CODE BUTTON in the first place?

“Sir. System is like that only”

And also I am told that I CANNOT ADD ANOTHER AD CODE to the same location (INBLR4) where I have one AD code registered. So what am I supposed to do now?

According to the email from support, I have to send an email to their helpdesk number with the following details:

• Icegate Id
• IEC Code
• Registered Email Id
• AD Code No.
• AD Code Date
• Location
• Bank Name
• Bank Account No.
• IFSC Code
• Error Description
• Screen shot with URL & Time

I have done that a short while ago. It looks like I will need to add a Part 3 to this series to see how this ends.

Meanwhile. My customer in the US is waiting and has probably lost interest and trust in me. Thanks Icegate.

All I wanted to do was send a damn DHL courier.




obsessively compulsively creative. getting better every day.