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Customer Guideline

USA Import Requirements

General import requirements:

All imports into the US are subject to customs duty unless specifically exempted by law. Licenses or permits may be required for imports of certain restricted merchandise, including alcoholic beverages, animal and animal products, certain drugs, firearms and ammunition, vegetables, fruits & nuts, meat and meat products, milk, dairy and cheese products, plants & plant products, petroleum products, etc.

There are no foreign exchange controls over payment for imports.

For details on import requirements of the US, please refer to the US Customs Service’s website via the following path: http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/ (Main page > Importing & Exporting > Information for the infrequent importer/traveler > US Import Requirements).

Tariffs, duties and GSP
1) Import duties:

All goods imported into the US are subject to duty or duty-free entry in accordance with their classification under the applicable items in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the US. Import duties may be ad valorem and/or specific. Rates of duty may vary depending upon the country of origin. General rates Column 1 in the schedule) are applied on imports from locations enjoying NTR status (formerly most-favoured-nation status), including Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. For details of import duties on specific products, please refer to the online version of the US Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States via the website of the United States International Trade Commission at: http://dataweb.usitc.gov/

Readers may also access an interactive database on US import statistics at the above site via the path: http://www.usitc.gov/ (Main > USITC General Trade Resources > DataWeb >Prepared Trade Data Reports > US Trade by Partner Country).

Apart from import duties, sales tax applies to most goods, ranging from 2-10%, varies among cities and states.

2) Generalised System of Preference (GSP):

The US system provides for the duty-free importation of a wide range of products from beneficiary developing countries. On August 6, 2002, President Bush signed legislation renewing the GSP programme and extending it through December 2006. Approximately 140 countries and territories are beneficiaries of the GSP scheme. Details of eligible products and list of beneficiary countries may be browsed from the online publication, “Importing into the United States” at: http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/.

Hong Kong has graduated from the GSP scheme in 1989.

Labelling & marking regulations :

Imported goods are usually required to be marked with the country of origin in English. The marking has to be permanent, legible and conspicuous. Additional labeling is required on food, cosmetics, textiles and apparel, selected household products and flammable fabrics. Details are available from the website of the Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov (Main page > Business Guidance > Rules and Acts).

Product standards:

Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, a wide range of consumer products (including bicycles, beds, cooking stoves and toys) is subject to a uniform safety standard. For more information on consumer product safety, contact the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East-West Highway Bethesda, MD. Tel: (301) 504-0580, Fax: (301) 504-0281, Internet: http://www.cpsc.gov

Users in Hong Kong may also contact the Product Standards Information Bureau, Innovation and Technology Commission for references and publications on overseas product standards and requirements. Tel: (852) 2829-4820. Website: http://www.info.gov.hk/itc

Anti-dumping actions :

The US rigorously enforces laws on dumping. When the Department of Commerce determines that a class of foreign goods is being, or is likely to be, sold to purchasers in the US at less than its fair value, an antidumping duty investigation may be conducted. The US International Trade Commission (ITC) is responsible for conducting the final injury investigation. If all the determinations are affirmative, the DOC will issue a duty order.

Readers may refer to TDC newsletter ‘Business Alert-US”: http://www.tdctrade.com (Main page > International Markets > Business Alert-US > AD Notices) for a summary of anti-dumping duty actions taken by the Department of Commerce. For further references on anti-dumping actions, please visit the Import Administration website at: http://ia.ita.doc.gov/

Documentation requirements on Solid Wood Packing Materials (SWPM)

Effective 17 December 1998, shipments to the US from the Chinese, mainland and Hong Kong containing solid wood packing material (SWPM) must be heat treated, fumigated or treated with preservatives prior to departure. Each shipment that contains SWPM must be accompanied by a certificate signed by the authorised government agency that the SWPM has been treated. Shipments that do not contain SWPM must be accompanied by an exporter statement specifying the shipment contains no such material. In Hong Kong, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department is the authorized department for the endorsement. Full details on this control requirements may be browsed from the website: http://www.afcd.gov.hk/quarantine/pprd/plant/swpm/swpm-us.htm

Specific import requirements on selected products:

a) Textiles— As agreed in the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ACT), certain categories of textile and clothing products of Hong Kong origin are currently subject to import quotas by the US. Effective from January 1, 2002, the US removed 37 categories of Hong Kong textile and clothing products fully/partially from quota restrictions. For a list of the restrained clothing and textiles products into the US, please refer to the section on Quota Category List (USA) under the website of Hong Kong’s Trade & Industry Department at: http://www.tid.gov.hk/english/import_export/textiles/ts_maincontent.html (Main page > Textiles Exports – Restrained Markets> Quota Category List > Quota Category List USA)

Please refer to the US Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection for labeling requirements on textile, wool and fur materials. Website: http://www.ftc.gov/ (Main page > Business Guidance > Rules and Acts > Textile, Wool, Fur and Apparel Matters).

b) Toys— Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, all toys must comply with a uniform safety standard. Imports are also required to be covered by an import licence. For details, please refer to the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission at: www.cpsc.gov  The US Toy Industry Association (TIA) also advocates members' compliance to the safety standards set by the International Council of Toy Industries.

c)  Electrical products —Certain electrical appliances sold to the US have to comply with the mandatory requirements of UL/ETL listing or equivalent, in order to meet the federal safety standards. Certain products including radios, tape recorders, stereos are required to meet the FCC standards. Contacts for further information include the Food & Drug Administration, the US Department of Energy, Consumer Products Efficiency at:http://www.energy.gov/, the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL): http://www.ul.com.hk; or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) http://www.fcc.gov/.

d) Food— All imported foods, beverages, drugs devices and cosmetics are governed by the provisions of the Federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetic Act, and administered by the Food and Drug Administration. New nutritional requirements for food products came into effect under the Nutrition labeling Act of 1990. For details on specific requirements, contact the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), US Department of Agriculture at: 4700 Rive Road, Riverdale, MD 20737. Tel: (301) 734-5786; Website: www.aphis.usda.gov/; or the Food and Drug Administration at: www.fda.gov/.

Sources for additional reference

As import regulations and controls are subject to changes and amendments from time to time, readers are advised to check with the relevant organizations/references for up-to-date information. Some of these reference sources are:

-- US Customs Service —an online publication of the US Customs Service: “Importing into the US” accessible from the website: http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/ (Main page > Importing & Exporting > Communications to trade > Importing into the US);

-- US International Trade Commission —online trade data and tariff database at: http://dataweb.usitc.gov/ Hong Kong Trade & Industry Department —Commercial Information Circulars: http://www.tid.gov.hk (Main page > About us > Trade Circulars > Commercial         Information Circulars > Americas);

-- TDC website

—newsletter “Business Alert-US” for the recent developments in US trade policy at: http://www.tdctrade.com/alert/usabout.htm. Readers may choose to subscribe to free email alerts for regular updates. Just click on “Free Subscription” on the newsletter’s main page.

—profile on the US market for recent developments in US economy and trade performance: http://www.tdctrade.com/mktprof/

—profiles on various major industries/products for import regulations by major markets. The pages can be accessed via: www.tdctrade.com (Main page > HK Economy, Trade & Business > Manufacturing).

Readers in Hong Kong are invited to visit the TDC Business InfoCentre located at Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong for further references on overseas markets’ import regulations and market intelligence.

Contact information of selected Government Offices in the US

US Customs Service
1301 Constitution Ave.,
NW Washington DC 20229
Tel: (202) 927-0400
Fax: (202) 927-2064
Website: http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/

Senior Customs Representative in HK
Commercial Services
American Consulate General Hong Kong
26 Garden Road, Central
Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2524-2267, (852) 2523-9011
Fax: (852) 2810-6550
Website: http://www.usconsulate.org.hk

 

Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements, US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration
Office of Textiles and Apparel
Rm H3100, 401 Constitution Avenue,
NW Washington, DC 20230
Tel: (202) 482-3400
Fax: (202) 482-0858

 

Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East-West Highway Bethesda, Maryland
Tel: (301) 504-0990; (800) 638-2772
Fax: (301) 504-0124
Email: info@cpsc/gov

ASTM International  (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials)
ASTM, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959
Tel: (610) 832-9585
Fax: (610) 832-9555
Email: Service@astm.org

National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Drive MS 2150
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20889-2150
Tel: (301) 975-4040
Fax: (301) 926-1559
Email: ncsci@nist.gov
Website : http://www.ts.nist.gov/ncsci

 

Food and Drug Administration
FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857
Tel: (301) 975-4040/4038/4036/5155
Fax: (301) 926-1559
Website: http://www.fda.gov/

 

Food Safety and Inspection Service
Room 1175-South Building,
1400 Independence Ave SW,
Washington, DC 20250
Tel: (202) 720-7943
Fax: (202) 720-1843
Email: fsis.webmaster@usda.gov

 

US Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20230
Tel: (202) 482-0337
Fax: (202) 482-3981
Website:   http://www.commerce.gov/

 

International Trade Administration
(Office in most major US cities)
Tel: (800) 872—8723
Email: tic@itc.doc.gov
Website:  http://www.ita.doc.gov

US Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Law Enforcement, PO Box 3247
Arlington, VA 22203-3247
Tel: (703) 358-1901
Fax: (703) 358-2264
Email: contact@fws.gov 
Website:  http://www.fws.gov

 

Patent and Trademark Office
(New Patent Applications)
Box Patent Application,
Assistant Commission for Patent, Washington, DC 20231
Tel: (703) 305-3257
Fax: (703) 305-7786

Direct Marketing Association
1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York
NY 10036-6700
Tel: (212) 768-7277
Fax: (212) 302-6714  |
Website: http://www.the-dma.org/

 

Patent and Trademark Office
(New Trademark Applications)
Box NEW APP Fee, Assistant Commissioner for Trademarks,
2900 Crystal Drive Arlington,
VA 22203-3513
Tel: (800) 786-9199, (703) 308-4357
Email: usptoinfo@uspto.gov 
Website: http://uspto.gov/

Import Regulations of Hong Kong's Major Trading Partners