Customs and Import Duties

This knowledge base document describes how to estimate import duties. We also provide examples for the EU, the US and Australia.

Estimating Import Duties

In conventional import /export practice, all importation duties, taxes, any quotas, permits or importation fees are the responsibility of the buyer. The background for this that import duties and taxes are levied at the country and point of arrival. These processes and costs are beyond the reach and control of the seller.

It is important that the buyer, the customer is aware that these costs may occur. JEDI and JEDI trained staff should at all times be in a position to advise the customer on where to get appropriate information on these costs. The first thing to know:

  1. The buyer is responsible to pay import duties, taxes, and make any needed arrangements.
  2. Most countries have exemptions for smaller shipments.
  3. If there is no exemption, a consignment is subject to import duties, value added tax, possibly additional fees, quotas, permits, treatments, etc.

Duties and taxes vary according to arrival country, the product, the order's value and the shipping method. Here we focus on import duties and value added tax that the customer may need to pay when receiving his or her order. We do not focus on permits, quotas or other potential issues here, because these are rare for our types of products.

There may be additional administrative fees. Customs offices and public postal services usually charge no to very low admin fees. Courier services may charge no to variable admin fees. For larger air freight or sea freight consignments private clearing agents such as Commercial Freight Forwarders charge significant fees; note that this is not applicable for postal or courier packages.

Best Sources

The customer country's own friendly customs /tariff office has the best specific information on import duties and taxes. Also, the local representative of the intended shipping method (post, courier, freight forwarder) can give information on duties, taxes and any of their own administrative fees. For best specific details we recommend customers to check these sources.

Looking It Up

We can look import and customs duties and taxes up on the web. This is how:

  1. Small orders may be exempt. Check your country's customs service web site for exemptions for small, low value, online /internet purchases.
  2. If your order is not exempt, find the product's universal six digit WCO Harmonized System (HS) Nomenclature code number, then look this code up in your own country's customs service import duty list. It is probably available online. For our examples below, it is.

Do not allow the HS Nomenclature to confuse you. The Chapters are numbered through from beginning to end of the entire list of products. When a product is in Chapter 66 you know its first two digits start with 66. The hierarchy above the Chapters, the Sections, only act as product groups and have no direct bearing on the HS number.

The Examples

We look up import duties and taxes for two product examples in three regions. The WCO HS Nomenclature above shows:

  • umbrellas in Section XII, Chapter 66, HS Code 6601.10
  • bamboo hand fans in Section IX, Chapter 44, HS Code 4421.91

These¹ are the universal six digit HS code numbers (planet Omicron Ceti III included). Some countries extend the universal HS code number with additional non-universal digits. Also note that different people may come to different conclusions about these code numbers. Customs officers make the final decision.

With these HS codes we check our three regions:

Export Documentation

JEDI, and the suppliers working with JEDI, supply standard export documentation that covers the standard importation requirements. If additional documentation is needed, we supply this free of charge upon request.

Thailand Import Rates

FIO: Thailand integrated tariff database: http://igtf.customs.go.th/igtf/en/main_frame.jsp .

Footnotes:
1 - The WCO HS Nomenclature does not know the term parasols. To help streamline official procedures as efficiently as possible, official documentation best describes parasols correctly as 6601.10 umbrellas and sun umbrellas. We consider bamboo folding fans, hand fans as 4421.91 Wood > Other > Other > Bamboo articles, but other interpretations may be possible. The US further differentiates between theatrical bamboo, and other bamboo items, whereas wedding fans may well be regarded as ceremonial items fitting into the lower taxed theatrical category.

Disclaimer: This is an internal knowledge base document. Its content may or may not be correct or updated, and may or may not apply to your own situation.