FAQ – What is the U.S. Import Duty for my product ?


Summmary Answer

We get many questions about how to find out what the U.S. import duty is for products exported from Vietnam to the USA. Recent examples are silk apparel, pencils, bicycles, etc. This FAQ will give you a step-by-step example of how to get general guidance on what the U.S. import duty may be.

However, U.S. Customs advises that the information provided is for GENERAL GUIDANCE ONLY, that you should get expert advice from a licensed customs broker, and, “ … for very specific duty on a particular item you may request a Binding Ruling. You may also receive guidance by calling your local CBP Port.”

So … here are links to Classification sources at the Customs and Border Protection.

Ports directory – This link provides a list of 317 Customs ports of entry by state. There are many individuals who can assist with classification of your imports.

Customs Rulings – This is a searchable database that provides links to official Memoranda of Customs Rulings for individual products. The product you have may have been classified in this manner, saving a lot of time and effort.

eRulings – This is a link to obtain eRulings, or official Customs rulings by email. There is a list of information and paperwork that you need to get together and provide to Customs to request an eRuling. There is also an Optional Template for Electronic Request for Binding Ruling (28kb, doc) that you can download to your computer and use to request an eRuling.

About the Customs Rulings Online Search System (CROSS) http://rulings.customs.gov/

CROSS is a searchable database of CBP rulings that can be retrieved based on simple or complex search characteristics using keywords and Boolean operators. CROSS has the added functionality of CROSS referencing rulings from the initial search result set with their modified, revoked or referenced counterpart

If your question has not been answered in the above, then you can get a definitive answer by asking for a Ruling Letter.

Ruling Letter from the Customs and Border Protection Bureau.

Below are explanations from the CBP web site. Click on the links for further information.

What are Ruling Letters http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/legal/rulings/ruling_letters.xml

It is in the interest of the sound administration of CBP and related laws that persons engaging in any transaction affected by those laws fully understand the consequences of that transaction prior to its consummation. For this reason, Customs and Border Protection will give full and careful consideration to written requests from importers and other interested parties for rulings or information setting forth, with respect to a specifically described transaction, a definitive interpretation of applicable law, or other appropriate information.

A ruling may be requested under Part 177 of the CBP Regulations (19 C.F.R. Part 177) by any person who, as an importer or exporter of merchandise, or otherwise, has a direct and demonstrable interest in the question or questions presented in the ruling request, or by the authorized agent of such person. A “person” in this context includes an individual, corporation, partnership, association, or other entity or group.

A request for a ruling should be in the form of a letter.

Requests for Valuation and Carrier rulings should be addressed to:
The Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection
Attention: Office of Regulations and Rulings
Washington, DC 20229.
(The Division and Branch in the Office of Regulations and Rulings to which the request should be directed may also be indicated, if known.)
Requests for tariff classification rulings should be addressed to:
Director, National Commodity Specialist Division
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Attn: CIE/Ruling Request
One Penn Plaza-10th Floor
New York, NY 10119
or to any service port office of CBP.

Requirements for Electronic Ruling Requests http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/legal/rulings/eRulingRequirements.xml

(06/22/2009)The procedures under this rulings program apply to requests for binding classification rulings under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and certain marking, origin, NAFTA and applicability of Trade Program rulings. Under the newly enhanced eRulings program, the importing community may submit an electronic request for a binding ruling by accessing the new eRulings Template. ( eRulings Template ) The template permits the online filing of an electronic binding ruling request directly to the National Commodity Specialist Division (NCSD) of the Office of Regulations and Rulings. The eRulings Template is reserved exclusively for the electronic submission of initial binding ruling requests to the NCSD in New York. Any questions or follow-up inquiries concerning electronic binding ruling requests must be made via telephone to Customs and Border Protection, Customs Information Exchange at (646) 733-3068, 3062 or 3071. Upon transmission of an electronic, eRuling, request the requester will receive an email, acknowledging their use of the template. If the transmission is received by the NCSD in good order, the requester will receive an email acknowledgement of receipt, complete with a binding ruling control number, within one business day. The official binding ruling response, complete with an electronic signature, will also be returned by email. Ruling requests that require a sample will be excluded from the program. Generally, the NCSD will issue all such rulings within 30 calendar days of the date of receipt. Some delay may occur if a laboratory report or consultation with another agency is required. Rulings that require referral to Headquarters, OR&R, will be issued by mail within 90 days of receipt. The ruling request must concern prospective shipments. A copy of the ruling or the ruling control number should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time the merchandise is imported. Please note that if for any reason you cannot meet the requirements for filing an electronic ruling request, you can still file for a binding ruling by mail. See above: What are Ruling Letters http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/legal/rulings/ruling_letters.xml

For GENERAL GUIDANCE … for women’s and girls’ silk apparel

First, click on: http://www.customs.gov/xp/cgov/import/

This is the US Customs and Border Protection starting point for information about IMPORTS.

On the left hand side toward the bottom, click on this item: Textiles and Quotas.

When the page opens, look at the right hand side,

legal:
Textlies
Informed Compliance Publications
Marketing Requirements for Wearing Apparel
Etc. ….

Basically these are publications explaining things IMPORTERS must know about importing apparel (“informed compliance”). For example, Marking Requirements for Wearing Apparel explains all the requirements for labels on apparel sold in the USA—country of origin, care (washing, drycleaning, etc.).

Now, on the left hand side of the same page, click on “Duty Rates/HTS” (HTS = Harmonized Tariff System).

Then click on Determining Duty Rates in the middle of the page.

You will see a FIRST WARNING that says:

“Experts spend years learning how to properly classify an item in order to determine its correct duty rate. For instance, you might want to know the rate of duty of a wool suit. A classification specialist will need to know, does it have darts? Did the wool come from Israel or another country that qualifies for duty-free treatment for certain of its products, where was the suit assembled, does it have any synthetic fibers in the lining….

“The U.S. International Trade Commission – Tariff Database link, located to your right under “on the web” will take you to an interactive data base that will enable you to get an approximate idea of the duty rate for a particular product. Please be aware that the duty rate you request is only as good as the information you provide. The actual duty rate of the item you import may not be what you think it should be as a result of your research. CBP makes the final determination of what the correct rate of duty is, not the importer. For very specific duty information on a particular item you may request a Binding Ruling. You may also receive guidance by calling your local CBP port.”

So, having read the FIRST WARNING, look on your right under on the web and click on U.S. International Trade Commisssion – Tariff Database.

On the right hand side you will see DataWeb Links, and under that click on TARIFF DATA.

In the center column of the page you will see,

USITC Tariff Database—Interactive (data current through July 1, 2005) Quick lookup; effective dates; related trade data.

So put your cursor over USITC Tariff Database—Interactive (data current through July 1, 2005) and click on it.

You will see a SECOND WARNING that says ….

CAUTION: This database is being provided as an advisory tool only. For complete legal product descriptions and enacted/proclaimed tariff rates to be used on Customs Service documents, you must consult the current HTS and any supplements thereto, as well as any applicable Customs regulations and decisions. Brief item descriptions have been provided for user convenience only and should NOT be relied upon for classification purposes.

Now that you have read a SECOND WARNING that this is a job for experts, if you are still brave enough to continue, click on Yes, go to USITC Year 2005 Tariff Database.

On the left hand side, you’ll see

Tariff Information Center

  • Official Harmonized Tariff Schedule

    You may have to look carefully to find this, but you have read twice that this is a job for experts.

    So put your cursor over and click on Official Harmonized Tariff Schedule.

    There is a THIRD WARNING on the page that opens, but you’ll have to look carefully to see it in the second paragraph.

    “Although the USITC publishes and maintains the HTSA in its various forms, Customs and Border Protection is the only agency that can provide legally binding advice or rulings on classification of imports. Contact your nearest Customs office with questions about how potential imports should be classified. For a binding ruling on classification, contact the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.”

    After reading the THIRD WARNING, don’t stop now, but go ahead and scroll down a bit and click on: 2005 HTSA – by chapter.

    Scroll down until you see this:

    SECTION XI: TEXTILE AND TEXTILE ARTICLES

    . Section Notes
    Chapter 50 Silk

    This is for silk fabric. Click on Chapter 50, and a 43kb pdf file will open in your browser or download to your hard drive.

    Read through the notes quickly and go to page XI 50-1, 50-2, 50-3, etc. toward the end of the doc. To see the import duty rates. Rates for VN are in the “General” column.

    Then, go back to Official Harmonized Tariff Schedule and scroll down until you see:

    SECTION XI: TEXTILE AND TEXTILE ARTICLES

    . Section Notes
    Chapter 62 Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted

    Click on Chapter 62, and a 253kb pdf file will open in your browser or download to your hard drive.

    Go to page XI 62-33 and item number 6204.19.40.00, which is “Women’s or girls’ suits, ensembles, suit-type jackets, blazers, dresses, skirts, divided skirts, … Containing 70 percent or more by weight of silk or silk waste (744) “

    Column 1 (General) shows that the import duty on such items imported from Vietnam is 1% …

    Please remember above that there were THREE WARNINGS that the information provided was for GENERAL GUIDANCE ONLY, and “ … for very specific duty on a particular item you may request a Binding Ruling. You may also receive guidance by calling your local CBP Port.”

    So … as was mentioned at the beginning of this FAQ, the Tariff Information Center very kindly provides the following links to Classification sources at the Customs and Border Protection.

    Ports directory – This link provides a list of 317 Customs ports of entry by state. There are many individuals who can assist with classification of your imports.

    Customs Rulings – This is a searchable database that provides links to official Memoranda of Customs Rulings for individual products. The product you have may have been classified in this manner, saving a lot of time and effort.

    eRulings – This is a link to obtain eRulings, or official Customs rulings by email. There is a list of information and paperwork that you need to get together and provide to Customs to request an eRuling. There is also an Optional Template for Electronic Request for Binding Ruling (28kb, doc) that you can download to your computer and use to request an eRuling.

    So … that’s how you determine the U.S. import duty for your product.

    And remember the three warnings …, that the information is provided for GENERAL GUIDANCE ONLY.