Import Customs Usa, A Guide for Businesses

Import Customs Usa, A Guide for Businesses

How to Import Goods into the USA: A Guide for Businesses

If you are a business owner who wants to import goods into the USA, you need to know the basics of customs duty and how to comply with the laws and regulations of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In this article, we will explain what customs duty is, how to calculate it, what documents you need, and what steps you need to take to import your goods smoothly and legally.

What is customs duty?

Customs duty is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when they are transported across international borders. The purpose of customs duty is to protect each country’s economy, residents, jobs, environment, etc., by controlling the flow of goods, especially restrictive and prohibited goods, into and out of the country.

Customs duty varies by country of origin and type of product. Goods from many countries are exempt from duty under various trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).


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How to calculate customs duty?

The customs duty rate is a percentage of the value of the goods that you have to pay when importing them into the USA. The value of the goods is determined by different methods, depending on the type of goods and the trade agreement that applies. The most common methods are:

Transaction value: This is the price that you paid or agreed to pay for the goods when you bought them from the seller.

Deductive value: This is based on the price that the goods are sold for in the USA, minus certain expenses such as commissions, transportation, and profit.

Computed value: This is based on the cost of production of the goods, plus certain expenses such as profit and general expenses.

Residual value: This is based on the value of similar or identical goods that are imported into the USA.

The customs duty rate can also vary depending on other factors, such as:

  • The classification of the goods according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which is a reference manual that provides the applicable tariff rates and statistical categories for all merchandise imported into the USA.
  • The country of origin of the goods, which is determined by where they were made or substantially transformed.
  • The special programs or preferences that apply to the goods, such as NAFTA, GSP, AGOA, etc.

To find out the customs duty rate for your goods, you can use the online tool provided by CBP called ACE (Automated Commercial Environment). You will need to enter information such as:

  • The HTSUS number or description of your goods
  • The country of origin of your goods
  • The value of your goods
  • The quantity and unit of measure of your goods
  • The special programs or preferences that apply to your goods

ACE will then calculate the customs duty rate and amount that you have to pay for your goods.

What documents do you need?

When importing goods into the USA, you need to prepare and submit certain documents to CBP and other agencies. These documents include:

Commercial invoice: This is a document that shows the details of your transaction with the seller, such as the description, quantity, value, and price of your goods, as well as the terms and conditions of sale.

Packing list: This is a document that shows how your goods are packed, such as the number and type of packages, the weight and dimensions of each package, and the marks and numbers on each package.

Bill of lading: This is a document that shows how your goods are shipped, such as the name and address of the shipper and consignee, the mode and route of transportation, and the date and place of delivery.

Arrival notice: This is a document that shows when and where your goods have arrived in the USA, as well as the name and contact information of the carrier or agent who will deliver them to you.

Entry summary: This is a document that shows how your goods are declared to CBP, such as

the HTSUS number or description of your goods
the country of origin of your goods
the value of your goods
the customs duty rate and amount that you have to pay for your goods
the special programs or preferences that apply to your goods
the name and contact information of your customs broker or agent who will file this document for you

Depending on the type and value of your goods, you may also need other documents such as:

Certificate of origin: This is a document that certifies where your goods were made or substantially transformed. You may need this document if you want to claim duty-free or reduced-duty treatment under a trade agreement such as NAFTA, GSP, AGOA, etc.

Import license or permit: This is a document that authorizes you to import certain goods that are subject to restrictions or regulations by CBP or other agencies, such as food, drugs, animals, plants, firearms, etc.

Certificate of compliance: This is a document that certifies that your goods meet the standards or requirements of CBP or other agencies, such as safety, health, quality, etc.

You can find more information about the documents that you need on the CBP website or by contacting your customs broker or agent.

What steps do you need to take?

To import goods into the USA, you need to follow these steps:

  • Find a reliable supplier and negotiate the terms and conditions of sale. Make sure that you have a clear and detailed commercial invoice and packing list for your goods.
  • Find a reputable carrier and arrange the transportation of your goods. Make sure that you have a valid and accurate bill of lading and arrival notice for your goods.
  • Find a licensed customs broker or agent and hire them to handle the customs clearance of your goods. Make sure that they have all the documents and information that they need to file the entry summary and pay the customs duty and fees for your goods.
  • Receive your goods and inspect them for any damage or discrepancy. If you find any problem with your goods, you can file a claim or protest with CBP or the carrier within a certain time limit.

By following these steps, you can import your goods into the USA smoothly and legally. However, importing goods is not a simple or easy process. It involves many rules and regulations that can change frequently. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with a professional customs broker or agent who can guide you through the process and help you avoid any mistakes or delays.


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Import Customs USA: Trends and Statistics

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 import customs process involves complying with various trade laws and regulations, paying duties, taxes, and fees, and ensuring the safety and security of the imported products. In this blog post, we will look at some of the recent trends and statistics related to import customs in the USA, based on official data sources.

Trade Remedy Enforcement

One of the major developments in the U.S. trade policy in recent years has been the imposition of additional duties on certain imported products under various trade remedy measures. These include:

  • Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, which allows the President to impose temporary tariffs or quotas on imports that cause or threaten serious injury to domestic industries.
  • Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which authorizes the President to adjust imports of products that threaten national security.
  • Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which empowers the U.S. Trade Representative to take action against foreign countries that engage in unfair trade practices that harm U.S. interests.

As of July 12, 2023, the CBP has assessed a total of $205.32 billion in duties under these trade remedy measures, with China being the main target . The breakdown of the duties assessed by product category is as follows:

  • Solar Panels: $3.13 billion under Section 201
  • Aluminum: $3.77 billion under Section 232
  • Steel: $12.63 billion under Section 232
  • China products: $185.79 billion under Section 301

These additional duties have increased the cost of importing for many U.S. businesses and consumers, as well as triggered retaliatory measures from affected trading partners.

Trade Enforcement Activities

Another aspect of import customs in the USA is the enforcement of trade laws and regulations by the CBP and other government agencies. These include:

  • Protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) by seizing counterfeit and pirated goods, issuing penalties, and partnering with rights holders and foreign governments.
  • Preventing the entry of unsafe or prohibited products by conducting inspections, testing, sampling, and audits, and collaborating with other agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
  • Collecting accurate revenue by verifying import compliance, auditing entry summaries, issuing liquidations, and pursuing collections.
  • Combating trade fraud by detecting and investigating violations such as undervaluation, misclassification, transshipment, evasion, and smuggling.

According to the CBP’s latest annual report , some of the highlights of its trade enforcement activities in 2022 were:

  • Seizing 27,599 shipments of IPR-infringing goods worth $1.3 billion if genuine.
  • Excluding or detaining 13% of FDA-regulated products offered for import.
  • Collecting $74.4 billion in duties, taxes, and fees.
  • Issuing 1,869 penalties worth $287 million for trade violations.
  • Initiating 286 trade fraud investigations resulting in 175 arrests, 120 indictments, and 134 convictions.

Trade Data Reports

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) provides various trade data reports that can help importers understand the trends and patterns of U.S. merchandise trade. These include:

  • DataWeb: A user-friendly web interface that allows users to retrieve U.S. import and export data by commodity code, country, district, port, mode of transport, value, quantity, unit price, and other variables .
  • Tariff Database: A comprehensive database that contains past, current, and future U.S. tariff rates by commodity code and country .
  • Commodity Translation Tool: A tool that helps users find correlations between different classification systems such as Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), Standard International Trade Classification (SITC), etc .
  • Trade Data Reports: A series of reports prepared by the USITC that cover various topics such as U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. ad valorem equivalent duties and preference programs, etc .

These trade data reports can help importers gain insights into the market conditions, demand trends, competitive landscape, tariff rates, and trade barriers for their products.

Import customs in the USA is a complex and dynamic process that involves complying with various trade laws and regulations, paying duties, taxes, and fees, ensuring product safety and security, and facing trade remedy measures and enforcement actions. Importers can benefit from using official data sources to keep track of the latest developments and statistics related to import customs in the USA, and plan their import strategies accordingly.

References:

http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/newsroom/publications/trade/iius.ctt/iius.pdf

https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/tariff_profiles19_e.pdf

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/trade
https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2023-Feb/CBP%20FY22%20Trade%20and%20Travel%20Report.pdf
https://dataweb.usitc.gov/
https://dataweb.usitc.gov/tariff/
https://dataweb.usitc.gov/translation/

https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export

https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/kbyg/customs-duty-info



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