How much will I pay to import goods from China to the USA?

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Seven of the top ten busiest ports in the World are in China. Before the coronavirus pandemic, China was shipping 40,000 twenty-foot equivalents (TEU’s) every day. With so many big ports with lots of ships coming in and out on a daily basis, importing from China to USA is easy and cheap.

Import from China cost will be somewhere between $500 and $1000 per twenty-foot container. The exact figure will depend on the port of entry and the goods involved. At the current time, there is still a degree of confusion about ‘Trump-tariffs’. These are import duties that President has yet to confirm.

Many of the Chinese freight company offer a wide range of services. For small deliveries, a courier service may be the most appropriate route. This will cost more per ton, but you will have a door-to-door service with the paperwork taken care of at every stage.

LCL Vs FCL

Importing from China to USA can either be Full Container Load (FCL) or Less than Container Load (LCL). With LCL, your freight is consolidated with other products being shipped. In some cases, it may be better to organise FCL as the consolidation process adds cost and time. It is always worth getting a quote for both options. In general, if you have got enough to fill about two thirds of a twenty-foot container (18m3) it is cheaper to hire a full container than to go down the LCL route.

FOB or EXW

The other abbreviations that will impact on cost are FOB (Free on Board) or EXW (Ex Works). In the more common FOB situation, the exporter pays for everything until the shipment is on the vessel. If Ex Works is the system, then the importer pays for all the transport costs from the factory gate.

Duties and taxes

When calculating the import from China to USA cost you must also add in the duty rate on the goods. There are ‘HS codes’ that define product categories and the relevant duty percentage that you must apply. You also need to add in the local VAT/GST rate(s) depending on where the goods are going. For example, T-shirts from China are subject to a 16.5% import duty and then a 25% tariff on top of that (the Trump Tariff as it stands).

Other charges

Just when you think they cannot take any more money off you, the Chinese freight companies suggest adding a contingency of 3% onto the total cost. This is supposed to cover wharf charges, document fees and ‘customs clearance’.

Conclusion – How much will I pay to import goods from China to the USA?

It is obviously very important to understand the full costs of importing goods into the USA from China. You need to make a profit on the goods in the container and you don’t want any nasty surprises along the way. Many of the larger Chinese freight companies will help you through this process and give you confidence that it is all worthwhile.

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