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Import, Q&A

Do I need a license to import fashion jewelry and fashion accessories?


Question

My friend and I would like to purchase fashion jewelry and fashion accessories, such as: belts, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, watches, etc. from countries outside of the U.S. and then sell them on e-bay or our own website. We have a sellers permit in California. Do we need any other kind of license and/or permit if we purchase goods outside of the U.S. and sell them in the U.S.? Also, how do the taxes work on those items?

Answer

Most fashion accessories with the exception of those made from textiles (cloth or clothing items) will be free from any additional licensing or import requirements of other government agencies, so your main obstacle will be US Customs – filing the proper paperwork, paying import duties, etc. This is assuming you are importing items from a country that maintains normal trade relations with the United States. Importing will be very difficult if your product is manufactured in Cuba or North Korea because they do not enjoy normal trade with the US.

Sources

There are large export markets for fashion accessories in both China and India. I would recommend dealing with Chinese markets for non-textile related goods and India for textiles. China currently has some quota restrictions with regard to the import of textiles whereas India does not. It might be also be easier to find an English speaking vendor in India.

Import Taxes and Valuation

When you import any good into the United States, you are required to pay an import duty (also called an import tax). Some goods have a duty rate of free while others can climb to over 20% of the value declared. The average duty rate in the US is between 3-5% of the value. The value of an import is typically considered the current US market rate for that good. For example, if you are going to sell a silver bracelet for $20 in your online store, you would declare its value to US Customs as $20 and pay duty based on that.

Because you plan on importing multiple items, I recommend becoming familiar with the US Harmonized Tariff Schedule. Each item you import must be assigned a ten digit classification number which will determine its rate of duty and eligibility for special trade programs. I’ve included a few sample classifications for your reference below.

Other Notes

Watches

You mention wanting to import watches which can be challenging without the proper research. Instead of having one classification number per item type, watches (even if they are assembled) are imported with multiple classifications per piece (one for the band, the crystal, the movement mechanism, etc.) and declared separately.

Before you commit

Once your vendors are established and you are ready to import, take several precautions before you send payment overseas:

  • Ask for samples of the item you intend to import to verify quality.
  • Make sure you have considered transportation costs when negotiating your final price.
    • Who will be paying for the goods to leave the country?
    • Who pays for the air/ocean freight to get it to the United States?
    • Who pays for the transportation from the airport/oceanport to your place of business?
    • What about insurance?
  • Take a moment to research incoterms and do not be shy about discussing it with your vendor.

Sample classifications:

Item Classification Duty Rate Special Trade Programs
Imitation jewelry: of base metal, whether or not plated with precious metal: Cuff links and studs 7117110000 8% Eligible for reduced duty rate
Articles of apparel & clothing accessories, of plastic, nesoi 3926209000 5% Eligible for reduced duty rate
Ties, bow ties and cravats, not knitted or crocheted, of silk or silk waste 6215100000 7.2% Eligible for reduced duty rate
Straps/bands/bracelets of tex. mat. or base metal, whether or not gold- or silver-plated entered with wrist watches of subheading 9101.12.80 9101122000 Free Not eligible for reduced duty rate

Please note: This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not specific legal advice. As an importer, it is your responsibility to meet all the legal requirements for importing goods.

One Response to “Do I need a license to import fashion jewelry and fashion accessories?”

  1. Carla Mc Kenzie Says:

    Hello, I would specifically like to find out what rates and taxes ar required to import wholesale finished jewelry products for retail. I have not yet set up my business, I am looking into the costs involved.

    Thank you for your feedback.

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