7 Steps to Import Goods from China to the USA
If you want to start an ecommerce business or expand your product line, importing goods from China to the USA can be a profitable option. China is the world’s largest exporter of goods, and many of them are in high demand in the US market. However, importing goods from China is not as simple as placing an order online. You need to follow certain steps and comply with various regulations to ensure a smooth and successful import process. Here are seven steps to import goods from China to the USA.
1. Identify the goods you want to import and find a reliable supplier.
The first step is to decide what kind of goods you want to import from China and research the market demand, competition, and profit margin. You also need to find a reliable supplier who can provide you with high-quality products at a reasonable price. You can use online platforms like Alibaba, Global Sources, or Made-in-China to search for suppliers, or you can attend trade shows or visit factories in person. You should verify the supplier’s credentials, reputation, and track record before making a deal.
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2. Negotiate the terms of the contract and payment method.
The next step is to negotiate the terms of the contract and payment method with your supplier. You should clarify the following aspects:
- The product specifications, quantity, quality standards, and packaging requirements
- The price per unit and the total amount of the order
- The Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) that define the responsibilities and risks of both parties regarding the delivery of the goods
- The payment method and schedule
- The lead time and delivery date
- The warranty and after-sales service
You should also ask for a pro forma invoice that summarizes the details of the order and serves as a preliminary agreement. You should choose a secure payment method that protects your interests, such as PayPal, escrow, or letter of credit.
3. Arrange the shipping and logistics.
The third step is to arrange the shipping and logistics of your goods from China to the USA. You have two main options: sea freight or air freight. Sea freight is cheaper but slower, while air freight is faster but more expensive. You should choose the option that suits your budget and timeline. You also need to decide whether you want to use FCL (full container load) or LCL (less than container load) for sea freight, or express or cargo for air freight.
You should also hire a freight forwarder who can handle the transportation, documentation, customs clearance, and delivery of your goods. A freight forwarder is a company that acts as an intermediary between you and the carrier, and can help you save time, money, and hassle. You can find a freight forwarder online or through referrals from your supplier or other importers.
4. Obtain the necessary permits and licenses.
The fourth step is to obtain the necessary permits and licenses to import goods from China to the USA. Depending on the type of goods you are importing, you may need to comply with certain regulations and requirements from various government agencies, such as:
- The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which enforces the customs laws and collects duties and taxes on imported goods
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the safety and quality of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and other products
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the importation of animals, plants, and agricultural products
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which monitors the environmental impact of imported products
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which ensures the safety of consumer products
You should check with these agencies or consult with your freight forwarder to determine what permits and licenses you need for your goods. You should also obtain an importer number from the CBP, which is your IRS business registration number or your Social Security number.
5. Prepare the required documents.
The fifth step is to prepare the required documents for importing goods from China to the USA. These documents include:
- The commercial invoice that shows the value and description of the goods
- The packing list that shows the weight, dimensions, quantity, and contents of each package
- The bill of lading or air waybill that serves as a receipt and contract of carriage between you and the carrier
- The certificate of origin that proves where the goods were manufactured
- The arrival notice that notifies you when your goods have arrived at the port of entry
- The customs entry form that declares your goods to the CBP
You should make sure that these documents are accurate, complete, and consistent with each other. You should also keep copies of these documents for your records.
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6. Pay the duties and taxes.
The sixth step is to pay the duties and taxes on your imported goods. Duties are fees that you pay to the CBP for importing goods into the USA, and they vary depending on the product category, origin, and value of the goods. Taxes are additional fees that you pay to the federal, state, or local government, and they depend on the type and destination of the goods. You can use the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) to find out the duty rate for your goods, and you can use online calculators or consult with your freight forwarder to estimate the total amount of duties and taxes.
You should pay the duties and taxes within 10 days of your goods arriving at the port of entry. You can pay online, by mail, or in person at a CBP office. You should also keep the receipt as proof of payment.
7. Receive and inspect your goods.
The final step is to receive and inspect your goods after they have cleared customs. You should arrange the delivery of your goods from the port of entry to your warehouse or store, either by yourself or through your freight forwarder. You should also inspect your goods for any damage, defects, or discrepancies, and report any issues to your supplier or freight forwarder as soon as possible. You should also keep all the documents and records related to your import transaction for future reference.
By following these seven steps, you can successfully import goods from China to the USA and grow your ecommerce business.
How to Import to USA: A Statistical Overview
The United States is one of the largest importers in the world, importing goods and services worth $2.8 trillion in 2021, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) . The top imports to the United States are cars, computers, packaged medical treatments, broadcasting equipment, and crude petroleum . Importing to the USA can be a lucrative business opportunity, but it also requires compliance with various trade laws and regulations.
The U.S. trade regime is complex and dynamic, involving multiple agencies and programs that affect the importation of goods. Some of the major factors that influence the import process are:
These are taxes or duties levied on imported goods based on their classification, origin, and value. The U.S. tariff schedule is available online through the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) DataWeb , which provides past, current, and future tariff rates in multiple formats. The USITC also offers a commodity translation tool that helps find correlations between different classification systems .
These are measures taken by the U.S. government to protect domestic industries from unfair trade practices or injury caused by imports. Some of the most common trade remedies are antidumping and countervailing duties, which are imposed on imports that are sold at less than fair value or subsidized by foreign governments, respectively. The CBP collects and enforces these duties on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission . Other trade remedies include safeguards, which are temporary restrictions on imports that cause or threaten serious injury to domestic producers, and Section 232, 201, and 301 actions, which are taken to address national security, injury, or unfair trade practices related to specific products or countries .
These are the steps and requirements that importers must follow to clear their goods through customs and enter the U.S. market. The CBP is the primary agency responsible for administering and enforcing customs laws and regulations . Some of the key customs procedures include:
Filing an entry summary
This is a document that declares the value, classification, origin, and other information about the imported goods. The entry summary must be filed electronically through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system within 15 days of the date of entry .
Paying duties, taxes, and fees
These are the charges that importers must pay based on the tariff classification, value, origin, and other factors of their goods. The CBP collects these payments through ACE or through designated banks .
These are the documents that importers must provide to support their entry summary and prove compliance with customs and other laws. Some of the common documents include invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin, bills of lading, and licenses or permits .
These are the checks that CBP officers perform on imported goods to verify their identity, quantity, quality, safety, and admissibility. The CBP may inspect goods at the port of entry or at a designated warehouse or facility .
Importing to the USA can be a rewarding but challenging endeavor that requires careful planning, research, and compliance. Importers should consult with reliable sources of information and guidance, such as CBP’s website , USITC’s DataWeb , and trade experts or professionals, before engaging in import activities.
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