Frequently asked questions

U.S.A. customs and documentation: what’s required?

When sending goods to the U.S.A., you’ll need to take into account a number of regulations governing the import of goods.

Customs requirements

  • Parcels don’t require a physical customs declaration form as the customs process is performed through IT systems
  • Parcels don’t require a commercial invoice if below the threshold of $800 per receiver; however, we recommend attaching it to the parcel to facilitate the customs process
  • Multiple packages that are addressed to the same receiver and whose total value exceeds $800 can’t be released at the border under Section 321
  • Goods need to be accompanied by a HS code: a product code used by customs officers worldwide to categorise products

Please note that, as an exporter, you are responsible for supplying all the correct content, documentation and HS Code classification.

Import duties and taxes

The U.S.A charges tax and import duties that apply to the majority of imports. However, the amount of duties and tax depends on the value of the goods shipped. 

Section 321 is a type of informal entry that allows for the release of shipments valued $800 or less at the U.S. border. Shipments released under Section 321 are free of duty and tax. 

To be cleared under Section 321, a shipment must not exceed $800 in value and may not be part of a single order or contract with a value above $800. U.S. Customs and Border Protection may also refuse to release a shipment under Section 321 if they suspect a security risk. What’s considered a security risk may vary for different kinds of merchandise. 

What can you send? 

There are certain goods that may not be imported into the U.S.A. and won’t be considered for 321 clearance. If absolutely necessary, these goods should be imported via other routes.

The following goods should not be sent by mail under any circumstance:

  • Explosive objects and substances
  • Liquid, compressed or dissolved gasses 
  • Flammable liquids and flammable solids
  • Any substances which are spontaneously combustible 
  • Substances that may produce flammable gases when coming into contact with water
  • Substances that are conducive to combustion
  • Organic peroxides
  • Toxic substances
  • Substances that can cause infections
  • Corrosive substances
  • Narcotics and substances with a psychological effect
  • Live animals
  • Radioactive material
  • Goods that infringe on copyright or other intellectual property rights
  • (Replica) weapons and ammunition
  • Pornographic material
  • Any other substances that pose a threat to humans or to the environment

In addition, it’s prohibited to send the following goods to the United States:

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Lottery shipments
  • Narcotics, with the exception of permitted ‘controlled substances’. You can find further information on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website
  • Tobacco products such as cigarettes, tobacco and snuff 

The following goods are only allowed to enter the United States under certain conditions:

  • Shipments containing foodstuffs, including food supplements and alcohol. These must be digitally registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before shipping. To register these items, you must first register through Registrar Corp. Once you have been given a registration number, clearly indicate this ‘Prior Notice number’ on the parcel’s shipping document. Please note: gift shipments with foodstuffs going from consumer to consumer do not have to be registered.
  • Shipments with lithium batteries. For more information, please refer to the conditions for shipping lithium as air freight

Please note: as the sender of goods to the U.S.A., you are ultimately responsible for the contents of your shipment. Spring may not be held responsible for any damages to or confiscation of your shipment. Please refer to the website of your local postal company, customs department, or U.S. embassy for the most up-to-date information.

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