How To Import into USA

Michael MicheliniBlog, Business, Ecommerce0 Comments

Importing goods is one effective way to obtain great products and a great way to expand a business. China, for instance, has an incredibly wide array of suppliers. Products made in China are popular worldwide; in fact, China has been a haven for the most successful sellers all over the world for their cheap and high-demand products. Importing products, however, takes a lot of time, effort and patience.

Bringing in products to the United States isn’t that hard as long as you are prepared and knowledgeable about the methods and procedures of importing.

How to import goods from overseas

1. Choose a supplier

The first step to effective importing is deciding on which products to sell and finding one good supplier. Alibaba, for instance, is a popular online resource of potential products, so you don’t have to travel across borders in order to make transactions.

Certainly, you need to be cautious and certain about the transaction you’re about to make with the exporter. Being a seller, you need to know what you’re getting into. First off, obtain all about the information you can from the exporter – how legit is it? Asking for a business license, name, location of the factory/supplier is one way to assure the legitimacy of the exporter. Secondly, know how reputable the supplier is – properly research the company/seller; if it’s an online selling platform like Alibaba, reading customer reviews is a major help.

2. Choose an import arrangement

After choosing the right supplier and placing the orders, choosing the best shipping arrangement comes next.

A. Importing to the USA by air
This arrangement is the fastest and easiest but the most expensive. This is mostly used with shipments that are labelled as high value, urgent, very fragile or perishable.

B. Importing to the USA by sea
If you’re importing something large and bulky, importing by sea may be the best option for you. However, know that this option takes longer than importing by air.

C. Bringing it with you
If the goods cost $800 or less, then you won’t have to pay for anything; anything above that amount would be taxed at 3% for the first $1000, and if the goods cost more than that, you will have to pay duties item-by-item. If you’re travelling with a family, you may combine each other’s’ $800 exemption to avoid duties. Note that the $800 exemption is valid only once every 30 days, and only if you have been out of the country for two days or so.

D. Use courier companies
FedEX, DHL, UPS — there are too many courier companies to choose from. This is probably the easiest option as it doesn’t cost much, and they do most of the work such as entry documentation and navigating through customs.

3. Entry of Goods

Once your shipment has arrived, you or your designated customs broker now need to file entry documents for the shipment with the port director. These documents are:

1. Entry Manifest (CBP Form 7533) or Application and Special Permit for Immediate Delivery (CBP Form 3461) or other form of merchandise release required by the port director,
2. Evidence of right to make entry – bill of lading or an air waybill
3. Commercial invoice or a pro forma invoice when the commercial invoice cannot be produced,
4. Packing lists, if appropriate,
5. Other documents necessary to determine merchandise admissibility.


Once all the requirements are submitted, the goods may be examined by customs officials. Basically, they examine the value of the goods, applicable fees, the country of origin, invoice, and they check if the shipment contains any prohibited items.

Once the customs officials approve your shipment, you will have to pay for the applicable duties to have your goods released.

Is hiring a customs broker required?

No, but it is highly recommended to avoid penalties and delays. A licensed customs broker basically helps you go through customs easily, as they are more knowledgeable about the laws and regulations implemented by US Customs. Customs brokers are licensed by CBP, hence have expertise in taxes calculation, duty fees, requirements and procedures.

Do I need a license to import?

No. But as the importer, it is important to be familiar with the merchandise you are bringing into the US. For one, the goods must meet the regulations related to the agency to which it belongs (e.g., Food and Drug Administration, The Federal Trade Commission, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, etc.)

Import Taxes & Custom Duties To The USA

As the importer, it is your responsibility to meet the regulations implemented by the US government, most specifically about the import taxes and customs duties you are required to shoulder upon the arrival of the goods.

Most products that are imported to the US are subject to import duties and taxes. Import duties in the US are usually set at 3% to 6%, but know that the applicable duties always depend on the products you’re bringing into the US and the country origin.

Applicable rates may be assessed in the following types of duties:

1. Ad Valorem – this is basically a Latin phrase that means “according to value.” This type of duty is most frequently applied to imported merchandise. An ad valorem, is a percentage of the value of the merchandise, such as 5% according to value.
2. Specific – A specific rate is a specified amount per unit of weight or other quantity, such as 5.9 cents per dozen.
3. Compound Rates – A compound rate is a combination of both an ad valorem rate and a specific rate, such as 0.7 cents per kilo plus 10% ad valorem.


Additionally, the applicable rates for your merchandise could be determined using the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS). HTS is simply a reference manual that helps you determine or estimate the appropriate rate applicable to your goods. It’s a vast system that contains names and numbers to classify every product that is traded internationally. With HTS, customs officials easily determine what the product is, what it is made of, its functions & a variety of other factors that describe the goods you are importing.

US Product Customs Clearance & Procedure

Once your goods arrive in the US, you have 5 days from the day of arrival to file a declaration to customs to get your merchandise released, and then 15 days to submit the entry summary and pay the applicable duties and taxes. When all the paperwork has been done, the customs officials may inspect or examine the imported goods before releasing them to you. Customs authorities check the following:

1. Invoice – must be clear & contain complete information like the complete description of the products;
2. Items – must not contain prohibited articles. to know more about the prohibited items in the US, click here;
3. The value of the goods – to check the duties applicable to the products;
4. The country of origin;
5. Quantity of items – the quantity of items declared on the invoice basically needs to match on the actual count of items inside the shipment, any missing or excess goods will delay the shipment release;
6. Compliance to any special laws of the United States that may apply to your goods like those related to food, alcoholic beverages, drugs, cosmetics, etc.

Importing Electronics to the USA

China is the United States’ largest trading partner for inexpensive goods like electronics. In fact, most FBA sellers import their products from China – mobile phones, headphones, speakers, tablets, mouses, selfie sticks, security gadgets, computer accessories – these are just some of China’s best-selling products. Importing electronics to the USA isn’t new to sellers because it is indeed profitable. And for consumers, buying something made in China is mainstream.

Cheaper Way to Import Electronics

If you plan to import electronics to the USA, the cheapest way to do it is to buy in bulk and ship it all at once – either by air or sea. If you are shipping lightweight items, it is more convenient and cheaper to ship them through a courier. If your shipment is as heavy as 100 kg, then it is more cost effective to send the items via sea freight – it is cheap, but the drawback is that it takes as long as a month to arrive. If shipping by sea wouldn’t work for you, then shipping by air would be the best option.

But what’s the best option in shipping your electronics to the USA? I say you ship it by air. Yes, it is expensive, but it is cost & time efficient; it is a convenient and viable option especially if you plan to ship items that are fragile and breakable, such as electronics.

Freight Calculator

To help you get started, there’s a free web tool you can use to estimate the freight rate from China to your location called

Process to Import Electronics to the US

Importing electronics from China to the US may be a daunting and terrifying task. Honestly speaking, Chinese products are most often perceived as fake/poor quality, thus choosing your supplier or manufacturer is the most crucial part of importing electronics to the United States.

Whether you ship it by air or sea, proper documentation will be required upon the arrival of your shipment. When your package reaches the United States, you must file entry documents such as:

1. Invoice
2. Evidence of right to make entry – bill of lading or an air waybill
3. CBP Forms (7533 for entry manifest and 7533 for immediate delivery)
4. Other documents necessary to determine merchandise admissibility.
5. Certificate of origin

Once all the paperwork is complete, the customs officials may inspect your shipment. And if no problems come your way, then the shipment may be released.

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