US Customs: Regulations and restrictions

With the growth of e-commerce, it's easy to order goods across the Atlantic, but trade with North America is subject to duties and taxes. Find out everything you need to know about shipping safely to the United States.


How do you calculate customs fees in the United States?

The calculation of US customs fees depends on several factors, such as the value of the imported goods, the country of origin of the goods, the product category and the type of import (commercial or personal).

The following are general steps to follow when calculating U.S. customs fees:

  • Determine the value of the goods: The value of the imported goods is the amount you paid to purchase the goods, including transportation and insurance costs.
  • Determine the duty rate: You can find the duty rate in the US International Trade Commission (USITC) online database or by using a duty calculator tool.
  • Calculate the duty: Multiply the value of the goods by the duty rate to get the duty amount.
  • Calculate import taxes: In addition to customs duties, you may have to pay import taxes, such as value added tax (VAT) or sales tax. 
  • Add brokerage and other fees: You may also have to pay brokerage and other fees to clear your goods through customs. These fees may vary depending on the shipping company you use and the services it provides.

In sum, calculating customs fees in the United States can be complicated and can vary depending on a number of factors.


Clearing goods through US Customs


Clearing goods through US Customs involves a series of procedures and formalities that must be followed in order to obtain permission to move goods across US borders. These formalities are governed by the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and require importers to provide accurate and complete information about their goods. This information includes product details, value and origin and can be submitted either manually or via an online system. Importers must also pay applicable duties and taxes and provide additional documents, such as certificates or licences, to fulfil their customs obligations

Customs United States: Fines and seizures in the US

Fines and seizures in the United States can be imposed by a number of government agencies, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), among others.

Fines can be imposed for a variety of reasons, such as violating import or export rules, using fraudulent documents or providing false information to customs authorities. Fines can be of varying amounts depending on the seriousness of the offence and can also be accompanied by additional measures, such as the confiscation of goods or the suspension of import or export privileges.

Seizures can be made when goods are deemed illegal or not in compliance with US customs regulations. In such cases, customs authorities may seize the goods and detain them until the problems are resolved or a court decision is made. In some cases, the goods may be destroyed, auctioned or returned to the sender.

It is important to comply with US import and export regulations to avoid fines and seizures, as well as complications and delays in the customs clearance process. It is also advisable to consult a customs expert or international trade lawyer for advice on US customs rules and regulations.


Is origin marking mandatory in the US?

In the United States, origin marking is not mandatory for all imported products. However, for some specific products, it may be necessary to provide country of origin information.

For example, food products must be labelled with their country of origin, as well as imported textile clothing and footwear. Electronic products, chemical products and other everyday consumer products are not subject to origin marking regulations.

It is important to note that origin marking is different from country of origin labelling. Country of origin labelling may be mandatory for some products imported into the US. It is important to check with the relevant authorities to determine the specific origin marking and country of origin labelling requirements for the products you wish to import.


US Customs: What is the Mid Number?

The Mid Number (or Manufacturer Identification Number) is a unique identification number assigned by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to manufacturers and importers who wish to import regulated products into the United States.

The Mid Number is used to identify companies importing products into the country and allows authorities to track the origin and traceability of imported products, particularly for security and regulatory compliance purposes.

Obtaining a Mid Number is generally a requirement for companies importing regulated products, such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food products and medical devices.


Customs nomenclature at US Customs

The U.S. Customs Nomenclature is a system for classifying imported or exported goods. It is used to determine the rate of duty and taxes applicable to each commodity and to facilitate customs clearance.

The customs nomenclature system used in the United States is called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). This is an official document published by the United States International Trade Commission (USITC), which contains a complete list of imported and exported products, classified according to a ten-digit nomenclature.

Each nomenclature code is specific to a product and corresponds to a detailed description of the goods in question. The first ten digits of the code are used to describe the commodity in detail, while the eleventh digit is used to determine the applicable rate of duty.

It is important to note that the HTSUS is regularly updated to reflect changes in trade practices and industry developments. It is therefore important to check the updates regularly to ensure that imported or exported goods are classified correctly and that the applicable duty rates are correct.


Food products at US customs

Food products are subject to strict regulations at US customs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal agency responsible for regulating food, drugs and cosmetics in the US. All food products imported into the US must comply with FDA regulations.

Food products must be appropriately labelled and must include information such as a list of ingredients, nutritional information, allergens and expiry dates. Food products containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients must also be labelled as such.

Some food products are subject to import restrictions, including meat, dairy and seafood products. These products must be inspected and approved by the US health authorities before they are allowed to enter the US.

It is important to find out about the regulations before importing food products into the US to avoid problems at US customs.


Products cleared by Customs United States

US Customs allows the importation of many types of products, including

  • Food products: most food products are allowed, but some are subject to restrictions or special certification requirements.
  • Clothing and fashion accessories: clothing, footwear, handbags, jewellery and other fashion accessories are generally allowed, but some items may be subject to quotas or import duties.
  • Electronics: electronic products such as mobile phones, computers, tablets and cameras are allowed, but may be subject to quantity restrictions or certification requirements.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Medicines are allowed, but may require a medical prescription and must be declared to customs on arrival.
  • Baby and children's products: nappies, baby products and children's toys are allowed, but some may be subject to restrictions or certification requirements.

It is important to note that imported products must comply with US safety standards and regulations, and some products may be banned or regulated due to health or environmental concerns. It is therefore recommended that you consult US Customs information before importing products into the US.


Products prohibited by customs United States

US Customs and Border Protection prohibits the importation of many products, including:

  • Illegal drugs and some prescription medicines.
  • Counterfeit or pirated products, such as branded clothing, shoes, watches and sunglasses.
  • Firearms, ammunition and explosives.
  • Certain food products, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, dairy products, insects and bird and reptile products.
  • Dangerous products such as chemicals, lithium batteries, fireworks and radioactive materials.
  • Protected animal and plant products, such as endangered species, exotic plants, seeds and fruits.
  • Pornographic and obscene products.

It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive and that US Customs may also prohibit the importation of certain products for reasons of public health or safety. Before importing products into the United States, it is advisable to consult the rules and regulations in force with US Customs.


How do I know if my package is stuck in US Customs?

If you suspect that your package is stuck in US Customs, there are several steps you can take to verify this:

Check the status of your shipment using the tracking number provided by the carrier. If your package is stuck in US Customs, the tracking status will usually indicate that the package is "in the process of clearance" or "held in bond".
Contact the carrier for more detailed information on the status of your package. They will be able to give you more information about why the package is being held at US Customs and what you need to do to clear it.
Contact the US customs authorities directly for information on the status of your package. You can contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection for information on the processing of your package.

It is important to note that the clearance process may take time, especially if your package contains items that require additional inspection or special authorization to enter the United States. In some cases, packages may be held for several weeks before being released by US Customs.

The U.S. Customs nomenclature is a classification system that determines the duty applicable to each product. It is important to understand this classification in order to determine the customs fees to be paid for your shipment.

It is also important to know which products are allowed and which are prohibited by US Customs. Some products are prohibited for safety, health or environmental reasons. It is therefore advisable to check the list of prohibited items before making your shipment.

In addition, it is advisable to pack your package properly to ensure that your shipment arrives at its destination intact. If you are sending valuable items, it is recommended that you add insurance at the time of your order.

If you have any doubts or questions about how to send parcels with Happy-Post, you can visit our help centre or contact our customer service.

In summary, when sending a parcel to the United States, it is important to consider the customs fees and documentation required to avoid your parcel being held in customs. It is also important to know what products are allowed and prohibited by US Customs, as well as to pack your package properly and add insurance if necessary.