Fulfillment

Custom Duties and Taxes

Paying Custom Duties and Taxes when Shipping Products from US

Goods shipped may incur Duty and VAT when shipped to international destinations. Customs Duty is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when transported across international borders. The purpose of Customs Duty is to protect each country's economy, residents, jobs, environment, etc., by controlling the flow of goods. VAT is (similar to Sales tax in US) a consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services. This national/local tax applies more or less to all goods and services that are bought and sold for use or consumption in the Community. Total amount of Duty and VAT varies based on the destination country, nature of the product (Harmonized Code), country of manufacture and value of the product. There is no way to predict this value ahead of time.

Customs Taxes Fulfillment
  • eCommerce retailers must bring clarity:  Most eCommerce retailers clarifies in their terms and conditions that the person receiving a shipment is obliged to pay Duty and VAT. In some cases, the shipped can choose a private carrier (FedEx, UPS or DHL) and send a shipment to cover the cost of duties and VAT. In such situation, the shipper gets billed later once the Duty and VAT gets calculated and product delivered. The sender does not have any option to pay Duty and VAT when shipping smaller consumer related items via USPS. Duty and VAT, if applicable, must then be covered by the person receiving the shipment. Individuals buying products from US should be careful about these extra charges and must read the supplier’s website on the responsibilities for covering these charges.
  • Calculating duties/taxes:  Customs officials use a shipment's declared value (the value the shipper declares on the goods being shipped), along with the description of the goods, to determine duties and taxes. It is important to ensure that the declared value claimed is accurate. Inaccurate declared value is one of the most prevalent reasons for duty and tax disputes. A shipment's declared value represents the selling price or fair market value of the contents of the shipment, even if not sold. The first step in determining duty and tax information is to identify the product classification number, i.e. Harmonized System or Schedule B number for your product. More importantly, your goods won’t ship without this number on key shipping documents. A Schedule B number is a 10-digit number used in the United States to classify physical goods for export to another country. The Schedule B is based on the international Harmonized System (HS) of 6-digit commodity classification codes. There is a Schedule B number for every physical product, from paperclips to airplanes. The Census Bureau sponsors a free online tool called the Schedule B Search Engine. Each country’s government that list tariff (duty) rates by each product’s harmonized System code. you may visit export.gov to get the latest publication and details. It is best to check with your shipper or fulfillment service provider to assist you with this research.
  • Can we ship any product?:  Generally speaking, there is no restriction and most items are permitted to be shipped internationally. The items which can be shipped falls in category of Clothing, DVDs, electronic, magazine, books etc. However, certain items are prohibited such as biological materials, bacteria or virus samples, firearms or their parts, flammable products, hazardous waste material, lottery tickets or other gambling items, money or other forms of money or cash equivalents. We also cannot ship alcohol.
  • Products manufactured in US has advantage:  Some countries have very high duties and taxes; some have relatively low duties and taxes. If your product is primarily made in the U.S. of U.S. originating components it may qualify for duty-free entry into countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement. US currently have free trade agreements with more than 20 countries including Canada and Mexico. Targeting “Free trade agreement” countries is a good market entry strategy because buyers pay less tariff for goods made in the U.S. compared with similar goods from countries without “Free trade agreement”. Country of manufacture, therefore, must be stated when preparing “bill of lading”. Products manufactured in China or India but shipped from US do not qualify any advantage of “Free trade agreement”.
Raj Barman

USPS Media Mail

USPS Media Mail - A Smart Way to Fulfill Your Books or DVDs

It is common to ship a package with USPS First Class mail. It is mostly understood that USPS First Class mail is the most cost-effective way to ship small packages within the USA. This is true except most people do not realize that there is a cheaper method to ship educational materials such as books or DVDs and this class of service is Media Mail. Media Mail is a cost-effective option for those who send books, recorded music, and other media materials in bulk through the U.S. Postal Service. This service is ideally suited when you are selling Direct-to-Consumer or when Kickstarter creators ship books to fulfill their rewards.

Comparing Media Mail to First Class Mail: While Media Mail takes a little longer than First-Class Mail to arrive at its destination, it is offered at a much lower rate – making it a very attractive option. Based on today's rates (updated 07/10/2016); it costs $2.72 for the 1st lb. and $0.50 for each additional pound. These prices are very low compared to any other parcel shipping from USPS or any other shipping carrier.

USPS Audits to Make Sure Media Mail is Not Misuse: However, because the prices are so low, the Postal Service has instituted strict restrictions on what does and does not qualify as Media Mail. Keep in mind that the U.S. Postal Service has the right to inspect all items that are sent through the Media Mail classification. Anyone who sends a non-approved item through Media Mail runs the risk of being charged with mail fraud!

What qualifies as Media Mail?: Media Mail consists of the following:

  • Bound books containing at least 8 pages and NO advertising
  • Printed educational material used for testing
  • Printed educational reference charts designed to instruct or train individuals Printed sheet music – either bound or in sheet form
  • Manuscripts
  • Computer readable media including DVDs, CDs, videotapes
  • Medical information to be distributed to doctors, hospitals, medical schools and medical students (can be loose-leaf pages and in binders)

What is NOT considered Media Mail?: 

  • Periodicals such as magazines and newspapers
  • Photographs, photo albums, and pictures
  • Computer readable media including portable hard drives, thumb drives, flash drives, jump drives, and USB drives
  • Films and film catalogs sent to or from commercial theaters
  • Trading cards of any type (i.e.: baseball cards)

Media Mail is a U.S. Domestic Mail Class: It costs the same amount to ship a package anywhere in the USA. It also allows you to ship internationally only to "Armed Force" destinations or US territories. These are special addresses set up for people serving in the U.S. military. These addresses will usually include name, rank, unit or ship information and special "City, State" codes, as follows: City options APO (Army/Air Force Post Office) or FPO (Fleet Post Office) and State options such as AA (Armed Forces Americas), AP (Armed Forces Pacific) or AE (Armed Forces OTHER (Africa, Canada, Europe, Middle East).

Also, you can send Domestic mail (including Media Mail) to and from the U.S. Territories and Possessions listed below:

  • American Samoa
  • Baker Island
  • Canton Island
  • Caroline Island
  • Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
  • Guam
  • Howland Island
  • Jarvis Island
  • Johnston Island
  • Kingman Reef
  • Koror
  • Marshall Islands
  • Midway Islands
  • Navassa Island
  • Palau Island
  • Palmyra Island
  • Puerto Rico
  • Virgin Islands
  • Wake Island

To sum things up, Media Mail is a cost-effective mail option to ship educational items commonly used for books and DVDs within the domestic USA or US territories or Armed force locations. If both the origin and destination address are not U.S. Domestic as stated, then this is International mail

Raj Barman