The US Customs office highly recommends using the in-house customs
brokerage service available with most major carriers (DHL, UPS,
FedEx). They will make your life significantly easier when it comes
to importing. They also post their own insurance bond on the shipment
which is generally cheaper than doing it yourself. I provide contact
information to each of them at the bottom of this answer.
When it comes to importing regulations, there are no state regulations
with which you need to comply. There are only federal requirements
that need to be met, which I outline below. All merchandise coming
into the United States must clear Customs and is subject to a Customs
duty unless specifically exempted by law. Clearance involves a number
of steps: entry, inspection, appraisement, classification and
o You will need an importer number. This is either your IRS business
registration number, or if your business is not registered with the
IRS or you do not have a business, your social security number. (The
U.S. Customs Service does not require an importer to have a license or
permit. Other agencies may require a permit, license, or other
certification, but this shouldn't apply for importation of clothing).
o The importer must declare the dutiable value of merchandise. The
final appraisement is fixed by Customs. Several appraisement methods
are used to arrive at this value. The transaction value serves as the
primary basis of appraisement. Transaction value is the price actually
paid or payable by the buyer to the seller for the goods imported.
Other factors may also add to the dutiable value of merchandise, such
as packing costs, selling commissions, royalty or licensing fees, etc.
When the transaction value cannot be determined, then the value of the
imported goods being appraised is the transaction value of identical
merchandise. If merchandise identical to the imported goods cannot be
found or an acceptable transaction value for such merchandise does not
exist, then the value is the transaction value of similar merchandise.
Similar merchandise means merchandise that is produced in the same
country and by the same person as the merchandise being appraised. It
must be commercially interchangeable with the merchandise being
appraised. The identical or similar merchandise must have been
exported to the United States at or about the same time the
merchandise being appraised is exported to the United States.
o The importer must determine the classification number of the
merchandise being imported. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the
United States (HTSUS), issued by the United States International Trade
Commission, prescribes the classification of merchandise by type of
product; e.g., animal and vegetable products, textile fibers and
textile products. In your case, this would most likely fall under
parent classification of 6103 (with the appropriate subclassification,
depending on material). See chapter 61, page 6 (Adobe Acrobat's page
number), of the 2006 tariff schedule here:
o The importer must pay estimated duties and processing fees if
applicable. Customs makes the final determination of the correct rate
of duty. The duty rate of an item is tied to its classification
number. The HTSUS provides several rates of duty for each item:
general rates for countries with which we maintain normal trade
relations (NTR); special rates for special programs (free, or lower
than the rates currently accorded NTR countries); and column 2 rates
for imports not eligible for either general or special rates. Customs
duties are generally assessed at ad valorem rates, a percentage of
which is applied to the dutiable value of the imported goods. Some
articles, however, are dutiable at a specific rate (so much per piece,
liter, kilo, etc); others at a compound rate of duty (i.e.,
combination of both ad valorem and specific rates).
o If formal entry is required - the importer may have to post a surety bond.
o Make sure actual manufacturer is on the invoice (not a middleman).
o It is the importer's responsibility to ensure that his or her goods
being imported meet admissibility requirements - such as proper
marking, safety standards, etc. - and that the proper permits, if
required, have been obtained in advance of the goods arriving in the
United States. The clothing must be tagged with the name of a
responsible party, such as (you or your company name), fabric content
and country of origin (top side of the tag).
Imported goods may not legally enter U.S. commerce until the shipment
has arrived within the port of entry and Customs has authorized
delivery of the merchandise. This is normally accomplished by filing
the appropriate documents, either by the importer or by the importer's
agent. To expedite this process, Customs entry papers may be presented
before the merchandise arrives, but entry will not take place until
the merchandise arrives within the port limits.
Excerpted from U.S. Import Requirements Publication #0000-0517, with
additional information/notation. See
for more information.
All invoices for textile wearing apparel should indicate a component
material breakdown in percentages by weight for all component fibers
present in the entire garment, as well as separate breakdowns of the
fibers in the (outer) shell (exclusive of linings, cuffs, waistbands,
collars and other trimmings) and in the lining; (2) for garments which
are constructed of more than one component or material (combination of
knits and not knit fabric or combinations of knit and/or not knit
fabric with leather, fur, plastic including vinyl, etc.), the invoice
must show a fiber breakdown in percentages by weight for each separate
textile material in the garment and a breakdown in percentages by
weight for each nontextile material for the entire garment; (3) for
woven garments, indicate whether the fabric is yarn dyed and whether
there are ?two or more colors in the warp and/or filling??; (4) for
all-white T-shirts and singlets Indicate whether or not the garment
contains pockets, trim, or embroidery; (5) for mufflers-State the
exact dimensions (length and width) of the merchandise.
Keep in mind, "Any article of wearing apparel, fabric or interior
furnishing cannot be imported into the United States if it fails to
conform to an applicable flammability standard issued under the
Flammable Fabrics Act. These flammability standards cover general
wearing apparel, children?s sleepwear, mattresses (including futons),
and carpets and rugs. Certain products can be imported into the United
States, as provided in Section 11(c) of the Act, for the purpose of
finishing or processing to render such products not so highly
flammable as to be dangerous when worn by individuals, provided that
the exporter states on the invoice or other paper relating to the
shipment that the shipment is being made for that purpose."
Also, just in case fur is used in any of your suits, "Any article of
wearing apparel imported into the United States and made in whole or
in part of fur or used fur, with the exception of articles made of new
fur of which the cost or manufacturer?s selling price does not exceed
$7, shall be tagged, labeled, or otherwise clearly marked to show the
following information as required by the Fur Products Labeling Act:
? The name of the manufacturer or person introducing the product into
commerce in the United States; i.e., importer. If the importer has a
registered identification number, that number may be used instead of
the individual?s name.
? The name or names of the animal or animals that produced the fur as
set forth in the Fur Products Name Guide and as determined under the
rules and regulations.
? That the fur product contains used or damaged fur where such is the fact.
? That the fur product is bleached, dyed, or otherwise artificially
colored when such is the fact.
? That the fur product is composed in whole or in substantial part of
paws, tails, bellies, or waste fur when such is the fact.
? The name of the country of origin of any imported furs contained in
a fur product.
For the purpose of enforcing the Fur Products Labeling Act, a
commercial invoice covering a shipment of furs or fur products
exceeding $500 in value is required to show the information noted in
The importation, exportation, transportation, distribution, or sale of
any product that consists, or is composed in whole or in part, of any
dog fur, cat fur, or both, is prohibited. Any such product that is
imported, exported, transported, distributed, or sold will be seized
and forfeited, and penalties may be imposed against any person who
violates this law."
Excerpted from "Importing into the United States", Publication
#0000-0504. See: http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/linkhandler/cgov/toolbox/publications/trade/iius.ctt/iius.doc
Contact the three major carriers at the following numbers:
FedEx Global Trade Manager
1-800-782-7892 - Intl. Export / Import Services
DHL Danzas Air Freight Services
DHL Danzas Ocean Services
The Customs Department has a Wearing Apparel specialist available in
San Francisco for additional questions you may have and specifically
(415) 782-9365 (Contact name: Tonda, Wearing Apparel Specialist)
555 Battery St.
Please be sure to post any clarification requests, and I'll be glad to help!
customs, carrier websites