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What should I consider before importing something?

Requirements for importing specific commodities depend on a wide variety of things. Some information, such as whether an item is subject to quota restrictions, eligible for reduced rates of duty, or restricted from entry because they originate in an embargoed country, can be determined only if you know the item’s Harmonized Tariff Schedule classification number. Determining an item’s HTS number can be extremely complicated. Please see our information under Duty Rates in the Import section of this web site.

Other requirements depend on other agencies’ safety, energy efficiency, health, etc. standards. Many of the items governed by these various rules cannot be imported without a permit from the related agency. See the chapter on Special Requirements in our publication “Importing Into the U.S.” for more information.
Another thing to consider is marking of county of origin. Everything imported for use in the U.S. must be marked with the country of origin, but some things are very hard, or impossible, to mark, such as diamonds, flowers, or water.
Finally, the distribution of many trademarked and copyrighted items in this country is restricted by contractual agreements that give exclusive rights to specific companies or individuals to distribute the product in this country. If you attempt to import a product covered by such an agreement, it could be seized at the border. For more information please see our information on Intellectual Property Rights.
We have attempted to give some thumbnail guidelines about things to consider in this Q&A format. However, circumstances change every day, and it is advisable to call your local port for specific guidance in importing your particular commodity. We also advise you to review our series of Informed Compliance Publications. They provide very detailed guidance on importing a variety of items, only some of which are listed in the FAQ category for Requirements for Importing Certain Goods.

One Response to “What should I consider before importing something?”

  1. Brad Says:

    What no one tells you is that once your shipment arrives in the states, no one can seem to help you, but everyone is right there to take money from you. The line of open palms seems to go on forever. This company is the Steamship company who wants 150 bucks. Then they send it to a warehouse who charges you IN handling and OUT handling and Pickup charges and fuel surcharges and daily storage fees. Thats another 500 bucks. Then if you wait to long (15 days) it goes to a GO warehouse and then they want a customs inspection done – thats 350 bucks more. Then the GO warehouse wants 1800.00 but they can’t seem to explain why it costs so much. And depending on who you talk to there, it may be higher or lower. But only if you pick it up soon. Then you find out they don’t even have your shipment there anylonger. It was released to a different warehouse facility half way accross town. They want 400 bucks for transportation and holding and fuel also. Then you find out they wont let you have it because theres a lien on it from some company in a different state…thats when things get exciting. They want 430.00 for documentation and filing. If you want to get rich the good old fashioned American way – forget getting a job. Buy a truck and a warehouse and sign up to import peoples merchandise and become one of the many, many leeches who suck from the underbelly of others hard work.