Export to the U.S.
Shipper’s Export Declaration
The most general document required by the U.S. government is the Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED). The U.S. government uses the form to compile international trade statistics. Many of the forms necessary for entry into the U.S. can be downloaded online.
All items entering the U.S. must clear U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and are subject to customs duty unless they are exempted by a pre-existing trade agreement. The U.S. CBP service, unlike many other countries, does not require an importer to possess a special license; however, the dutiable value of goods must be declared by the importer.
The importer must also provide a classification number for merchandise and goods entering the U.S. This classification can be determined in The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission. The HTSUS, used by most countries, easily classifies and categorizes merchandise by product type (e.g., animal and vegetable products or textile fibers and textile products).
Imported items must enter the U.S. through a port of entry with the CBP authorization. Products cannot legally enter the U.S. market until the proper duty has been paid and forms have been completed. Many international companies hire agents to facilitate and provide assistance to foreign companies with this process.
A customs broker can also be hired to represent a company and file customs entries. A customs broker must be fully licensed by the CBP. After the goods arrive at the port, merchandise must be claimed within 15 days or it will be returned to a customs warehouse for storage. The importer is held responsible for the associated storage cost on all unclaimed merchandise. Goods not claimed within six months will be sold at an auction.
Please note, unlike goods that remained unclaimed, merchandise that was exported from the U.S, and subsequently returned to the U.S. receive preferential tariffs.
Country of Origin
Products imported to the U.S. must be labeled indicating the country of origin. Without this information, merchandise could be subject to additional duties. It is not uncommon for some products to be manufactured or assembled in more than one country. For this complexity a company should seek legal advice in order to determine the proper labeling of the goods. The Federal Trade Commission developed criteria for what merchandise can be considered “Made in the U.S.A.” Even if items are assembled in the U.S. from parts manufactured in other countries, this does not mean that the goods can be labeled “Made in the U.S.A.” For more information, consult the Federal Trade Commission website .
Export Documentation Requirements
In addition to the aforementioned Shipper’s Export Declaration, the following documents are generally required for entry:
There are several publications produced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that will further clarify the process of importing into the U.S.:
U.S. Customs Service
Restricted or Prohibited Items
Certain items may be restricted without a license or completely prohibited from entering the U.S. Restricted items include:
Certain items are completely prohibited and cannot be imported to the U.S. under any circumstances. Prohibited items include: