Ecommerce Importing Into The US

Importing for your online business

Importing into the US for your online business is no different than if you had a physical location. Follow the steps below for tips on how to import successfully.

Parties Involved:

  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) - There are many of them, each regulating specific commodities for various reasons
  • Customs Broker - Helps you declare your goods with Customs and PGAs (unless you are self-declaring and able to meet the goods at the border)
  • Carrier - Transports the goods to your customers (unless you are bringing the goods across yourself)
  • Warehouse - Stores your products close to your customers (ie. import first, and sell later)

Import Fundamentals:

  • You will be acting as the Importer of Record. Therefore, you are the party ultimately responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the import declaration; as well as, the payment of applicable duties and taxes into the US.
  • Duty and tax must be paid upon importation into the US.
  • The rate of duty is determined by the tariff of the commodity being imported, the value of the goods and, the origin of the goods.
  • Certain import documentation is required to be presented to the border services officer at the port of entry.
  • Your import may be subject to a customs review, inspection or audit prior to, at the time of, or after the importation. Additional fees may be levied by the US Government for these services.
  • You are required to keep your import records for five years following the date of import and can be audited by US Customs at any point during this time.

FAQ: Ecommerce Imports

Why Should I Sell My Products On Amazon Or Ebay?
The US market is considered among the largest economies in the world with many residents buying goods online. For shipments that fall under the US De Minimis of $800 USD, most can be entered into the US free of duty and taxes. However, you will still need to make a declaration to US Customs as well as all applicable partner government agencies. This is a large duty free threshold in comparison to many other countries.
How Much Does It Cost To Import Into The US?

In order to determine your product’s US selling price you must first determine the costs associated with shipping and storing your products in the US. Top costs:

  • Import Duty
  • Tax
  • Shipping

Import Duty

Import duty is calculated using three pieces of information you provide on your commercial invoice, the:

  • HS tariff classification of the goods
  • Value of the goods
  • Country of origin of the goods

If you have these three key components, you can calculate your rate of duty. If you do not have these components, you can only estimate your rate of duty. If you need assistance determining your rate of duty we can help by verifying your tariff classification, determining the correct valuation of your goods and the accurate country of origin.


When importing into the US, it’s important to understand that tax must be paid to the state in which the goods will ultimately be delivered, as each state has a different tax rate. We advise you to speak to a US tax accountant prior to determining your sale price in the US. We have numerous US tax accountants that we can recommend to best suit your needs.


Shipping costs vary depending on the size, weight, distance travelled and mode of transportation. Air freight is the fastest mode of transportation, but also the most expensive. Whereas, ocean and ground freight may take longer, but they are less expensive.

What Documentation Is Required For Import Into The US?

You need to be aware of two types of government entities when importing into the US:

  • US Customs and Border Protection:

    US Customs is looking for an accurate and complete description of the goods being imported on a properly formatted commercial invoice or equivalent document that contains all of the required information. For a full list of the information required check out our Document Requirements for US Import Guide.
  • Partner Government Agencies:

    These are additional regulatory government agencies who regulate certain goods that may or may not apply to the goods you are importing. A majority of commodities are subject to PGA review. To determine if your goods are subject upon importation into the US, check out our educational guide: What Does My Commodity Need?
What Do I Need To Check Before Importing Into The US For My Ecommerce Business?

Before you make an ecommerce sale in a foreign country you should first:

  • Know if your goods will be subject to a Partner Government Agency review (see above FAQ).
  • Know which Partner Government Agencies will be applicable (ie. need to review your goods).
  • Determine what your HS tariff classification, valuation and country of origin will be so you can calculate your duty and tax costs accurately.
  • Calculate how much tax you will need to remit to the state in which you are selling.
  • Understand any labeling requirements for your goods.
  • Obtain quotes for shipping the goods from your distribution site to your buyers in the US.
  • Open an import account.

If you wish to import into the US to start selling your ecommerce products to American buyers, please fill out the form above to get started.

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