What is customs duty?
You’ll need to pay customs duty (or import tax) on any goods you move across the US border from other countries, though goods from some countries are exempt due to different international trade agreements. The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces customs rules.
Customs duties vary by country of origin and type of product. You'll need to know the Harmonised Tariff System or HTS code to calculate the exact rate due. CBP uses extended version of international HS codes — Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUS).
The minimum threshold for import tax is $800. Goods valued below that are not subject to duty.
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How do you calculate import duty in the US?
Imagine you need to import a shipment of garden umbrellas from Germany to the US. The goods cost $28,000.
To find out how much you'll need to pay, you'll need to check the commodity code for umbrellas, and apply the import duty rate for that code — 6.5%.
Tax will be due on the cost of the goods without shipping, which in this case is $28,000. 6.5% of $28,000 is $1,820. So for the good and customs duty, you'll pay $29,820 in total.
How to pay import tax?
If you need to pay import duty on a delivery, US customs will automatically let you or your courier know, and they’ll contact you. They’ll tell you how much you need to pay, and when it’s due, so you won’t need to worry about calculating it yourself (unless you think a mistake has been made).
To save time, you can usually get your supplier to send the shipping invoice before the delivery. This means you can let CBP or your courier know beforehand, and pay the charges before the goods arrive to the US.
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Import duty: your questions, answered
- Informal entry is an entry of goods priced under 2,500 USD and it’s intended mostly for personal import.
- Formal entry is an entry of goods priced over 2,500 USD and it should be cleared by CBP