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Customs Procedures

Import Procedures
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) import requirements apply to anyone bringing foreign items into the United States. While CBP does not require an importer to have a license or permit to import goods from a foreign country, any item crossing the border into the United States is subject to customs clearance and customs duties unless specifically exempted. To obtain customs clearance from CBP, importers and their goods must take the necessary entry, examination, valuation, classification and clearance measures.
Among the documents needed to import there are:

  • Entry Manifest or Application and Special Permit for Immediate Delivery or other form of merchandise release required by the port director,
  • Evidence of right to make entry,
  • Commercial invoice or a pro forma invoice when the commercial invoice cannot be produced,
  • Packing lists,
  • Other documents necessary to determine merchandise admissibility.

Import procedures are subject to a specific process. For more information, consult Tips for New Importers on CBP's Website.
Further information on import and customs clearance procedure is available on the website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Specific Import Procedures
FDA is the federal agency responsible for ensuring that foods are safe, wholesome and sanitary; human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices are safe and effective; cosmetics are safe; and electronic products that emit radiation are safe.
Importing Samples

The main options to import your commercial samples into the US:

  • Duty Free Consumption Entries: goods may possibly enter the US with regular consumption entry stipulations, but free of any duties. This applies to small amounts of consumption samples, including: alcohol samples, tobacco samples, and samples not valued over 1$.
  • Temporary Importation Under Bond (TIB): Samples entering under this procedure may enter into the US duty free by “posting a bond”, This bond is submitted by the importer, agreeing to export or destroy the sample within a specific time period
  • Carnets: For the import, export and re-export of commercial samples an ATA (Temporary Admission) book can be used. It must be written on the product that it is a free sample and that it may not be sold.

To go further, check out our service Import Controls and Export Controls.


Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports

Customs threshold (from which tariffs are required)
USD 800
Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)
Until recently, the U.S. applied a customs tariff that is among the lowest in the world (on average, 3.5%). Yet following an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods, as of May 2019, the United States has one of the highest tariff rate of all developed countries, with a trade-weighted tariff rate of 4.2%.
Products Having a Higher Customs Tariff
Dairy products, Sugars and confectionery, Beverages & tobacco, Clothing.
Preferential Rates
The duties for Canada and Mexico, bound by the USMCA agreement, are non-existent, or very reduced and in any case, lower than the general rate. There is also a preferential rate for countries included in the Generalized System of Preference, which is to say most of the developing countries.
Customs Classification
The U.S. applies the harmonised customs system (harmonised tariff schedule). Tariffs and classification depend on the origin of the products.
Method of Calculation of Duties
Customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value.
Method of Payment of Customs Duties
They have to be paid by any electronic technology or charge cards that are authorized by the Commissioner of Customs.
Import Taxes (Excluding Consumer 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.User fees depend on the type of entry and mode of transportation. Federal excise tax is imposed on imports of alcoholic beverages and tobacco. Merchandise processing fee is charged on formal and informal entries.

List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs Duties and Local Taxes.

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Latest Update: June 2024