Importing items from overseas suppliers means two good things for sellers:
- Cheap prices on wholesale items which leave a lot of room for deliciously high profits (especially when you source from manufacturing giants such as India or China who make top-quality, non-branded items for pennies on the dollar).
- Access to unique items that most other sellers can’t source (meaning you get significant market share!)
However, anyone who has imported items for re-selling into America will tell you that there is a bit of red-tape and a few bureaucratic layers you need to penetrate before you can reap the benefits I listed above.
If you’re a US-based seller who wants to import, read on for the answers to the most frequently asked questions about importing to the USA.
1. Am I liable for import duty?
All goods imported into the USA are subject to duty or duty-free entry depending on their classification in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States so you need to look up how the items you are planning on importing are classified in order to determine what and if you will pay.
2. How do I know how much duty I will have to pay for my imports?
Although I’ve heard this question a lot, I never grow tired of it, because when sellers ask me this question, it means they want to know the exact cost price per item before they decide if they will sell it. This means they are doing some market research, and I get really excited when sellers do that!
Really, I already answered this question above, but what you should know is that, generally speaking, import duties are pretty reasonable (as long as you are not importing restricted items). Therefore, unless you are operating on very low margins, the cost of importing is unlikely to affect whether you will or will not go ahead with the import.
3. Will my shipment be checked and opened by Customs?
It depends on how much you are importing. Customs generally takes less interest in smaller packages with a declared value of less than US$1,000 and lets them in easier than larger shipments (as long as the sniffer dogs don’t bark at them, that is!).
If your package is checked out, they will be looking at:
- The value of the goods and whether it matches what your documentation says about the value of the item. Customs look at this because some suppliers will write “gift” on the package or state the value as being a lot lower than it really is so that you don’t have to pay duty. However, this is illegal and if you get caught, you could find yourself in deep trouble with Customs!
- Whether the items are authentic, not replicas of branded items that Customs guards.
- Whether the shipment contains any other prohibited goods.
For more information on how to import to the US, check out: http://www.cbp.gov/
Have you imported from overseas suppliers into the US? What was your experience? I’d love to hear your stories, please post them below.