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Import, US Customs

How Much Does it Cost to Import?


Importers are expected to pay an import tax on virtually every item they import, but few know how much they owe until their shipments arrive in the US.

Many importers are overcharged by US Customs at the border because they did not purchase a copy of the US Harmonized Tariff Schedule and properly classify their imports.

Import taxes are based on the type of item you are importing and where it’s coming from.

How do I know how much I will owe for my imports?

Import taxes for every item imaginable can be determined using the United States Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTSUS, USHTS, or HTS for short).

This exceptionally large book breaks down into categories virtually every product and commodity imported into the United States. Each line item contains a ten digit classification number, a product description, and a duty rate. Find your item and apply its rate to calculate what you will owe.

Do I have to classify my item?

Every item that comes into the US must be classified with the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. If you don’t classify your item, US Customs will charge you a fee to do it for you.

Before you let Customs classify your product, remember that import tariffs are the second largest source of revenue next to the IRS.

What are Import Taxes?

Import tax (also known as an import duty or import tariff) is collected by US Customs on every import that comes into the US.

Import taxes are a source of income for the US Government and are a way to restrict or facilitate the import of certain commodities.

There are three primary purposes behind the USHTS:

1. The US Harmonized Tariff Schedule is used to assess import duties and taxes on imports. The US Customs Service is the second largest source of revenue for the US Government, second only to the Internal Revenue Service.

2. The HTS is used to track import and export statistics for the US Department of Census. Each month hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and services are imported and exported from the United States. The Tariff Schedule is designed so that the Federal Government can effectively track the import and export of individual product groups into and out of the United States.

3. Lastly, the USHTS is a tool to enforce the United States political agenda. By raising and lowering duty rates and import restrictions from specific countries or around the world, the United States can exercise a certain amount of economic influence.

You can use the Tariff Schedule to calculate duties and taxes on imports. All imported products must be classified with the HTS before they will be allowed into the United States.

9 Responses to “How Much Does it Cost to Import?”

  1. Francis Ross Says:

    Hello there, i find your site to be very informative. i am living in South Africa at the moment but would like to operate in New York soon. I wanted to find out how much i would percentage i would pay on duties and taxes for importing sneakers manufactured in China into the USA.

  2. john schroeder Says:

    I am intrested in importing hand made sandels of leather and cloth from Panama to the us .

  3. danny Says:

    hello, can anyone help me with the cost for shipping in some mp3 players from china? i already bought them and wasn’t sure on what all the fees for customs and whatever else there was until after i paid and started reading some more. am i going to be screwed and have to wait a long time to get my products or will i have to pay a ton of money? please anyone that can help feel free to email me at: myspace.atlanta@gmail.com thanks, danny

  4. alejandro gutierrez Says:

    I am interested in import Natura artesian water from Panama city , i will like to know duties and other cost that I need to know to my products be sell in U.S.A

  5. SANJAY Says:

    If you want to start a new business, forget about the duty. After all , all the taxes are included in the final cost of a product. Again, consumer in USA are crazy. they don’t have any knowledge about the price of a particular product. They buy it if they like it. You are going to deal with mad consumers. Duty does not count. Add 500 % to your basic price. Good luck.

  6. lOMING Says:

    Revise your plans, some duty fees can eat big chunk of your business

  7. Ana Biocini Says:

    Hi I want to find out how much I would pay in duties and taxes for importer 200 hundred Hand fans ( Abanicos) Importer from Spain.
    They will fit into a box that weight 15 Kg and the cost is around 600 hundred dollars for the whole order of 200 hand fans (Abanicos ). They will be shipment from Spain to San Francisco via DHL.
    I still don’t have Import Export license . do I need one for this kind of order? Do I need to pay any Taxes to customs clearance for this kind of order? What is the tariff for hand fans ( Abanicos ) coming from Spain? Would you please give me a feedback about this?
    Thanks a bunch , I am looking forward to hear from you.

    Best Regards

    Ana Biocini

  8. LEO Says:

    HI, i am planning to import food products from Philippines and plan to sell these to filipino stores here in the u.s., i would like to know if how much tariff there will be and do i need to have a sellers license. thanks

  9. jason Says:

    Hello, iam trying to get cost of customs to get a motorbike to US from indianesia thanks jason

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