Table of Contents
Managing shipping costs is key to profitable international eCommerce. Between import duties and shipping rates, it pays to look for savings around shipping and logistics.
If you’re shipping to the US, Section 321 offers huge savings. Section 321 is a US customs law that allows you to import goods below a certain value threshold without paying duties and taxes.
Good news: the shipment value threshold was recently increased from $200 to $800. This means importing to the States is now cheaper than ever. Pairing Section 321 savings with Easyship’s guaranteed-low rates on cross-border shipping you’ve created a competitive advantage.
Read this article to learn about Section 321, how to claim this import tax exemption, and see how much you can save on importing to the US.
What is Section 321?
Section 321 is a law that changed the de minimis value for goods imported to the US. The de minimis is the value threshold set by countries under which no customs duties or taxes are applied to goods.
Section 321 raises the de minimis value on US imports from $200 to $800. This means that merchants can import up to $800 worth of goods without incurring taxes and duties.
Say you’re importing a ski jacket valued at $500 from Switzerland to the States. Under Section 321, you’ll pay $0 import taxes!
You can use this tax exemption to save on imports, cut down on paperwork, and boost your bottom line.
How to Claim Section 321
In most cases, no extra work is required to claim Section 321. If your commercial invoice lists your shipment value at $800 or less, your shipment should clear customs as duty-free.
However, US Customs can deny the Section 321 exemption if they perceive your shipment to pose a risk. For this reason, make sure your commercial invoice is clear about the goods contained within, and their value. Customs officers will clear your shipment without duties if your paperwork is in order and below the $800 de minimis value.
Additionally, you can only claim Section 321 on one shipment per day. Otherwise, you’ll incur duty taxes on any other shipments, plus fines. To avoid fees, make sure you’re sending all items in a single shipment. If you’re sending multiple shipments, inform your chosen courier service which shipment you’d like to declare under Section 321.
Most retail shipments under $800 are automatically declared under Section 321, meaning they incur no duties or taxes at customs.
4 Benefits of Section 321 For Merchants
Section 321 is a big win for merchants importing low-value shipments to the United States. These core benefits include:
- Reduced fulfillment costs: Section 321 offers huge savings on import taxes and duties. Savvy merchants with shipments in excess of $800 will often store inventory in US on-demand warehouses to reduce their duties. Easyship offers a broad network of warehouses and US-based fulfillment centers to help you save on last mile deliveries.
- Faster customs clearance and delivery times: Shipments that satisfy the Section 321 threshold need less customs paperwork. This means both you and customers receive shipments faster. Accelerating deliveries is a huge help for cross-border merchants.
- Improved customer experience: Faster shipping is a competitive advantage in eCommerce. With Section 321, you can offer lower shipping rates or free shipping with faster delivery. This helps to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Key Restrictions to Section 321
Section 321 offers savings for merchants with just a few restrictions. Here are a handful of things to remember as you approach importing to the US under Section 321.
1. Imports from China
The ongoing trade war the US and China has led to increased US tariffs on goods imported from China. These tariffs are contained under Section 301, also known as 301 China.
Fortunately, for now, Section 321 overrides Section 301. This means can import products from China tax and duty-free – so long as your shipments meet the de minimis value of $800.
2. Never claim 321 more than once per day
Section 321 limits couriers to making only on tax-exempt import per day. Doing otherwise can result in serious penalties. To avoid these fees, make sure that your courier doesn't make multiple Section 321 claims on the same day.
3. Clearly list your de minimis value
You must provide proof of the shipment value to clear customs paying taxes and duties. This proof is your commercial invoice. Make sure your customs paperwork is airtight before it arrives at customs. If you want help, Easyship can help you generate all costumes paperwork to be compliant with Section 321.
4. Avoid shipping non-compliant goods
Every country restricts the import of certain goods. Here’s a rundown of goods restricted under Section 321 customs laws and regulations:
- Cigarettes, Cigars, and alcoholic beverages
- Goods that fall under the Anti-Dumping or Countervailing Duty
- Products, such as cleaning suppliers or harsh chemicals, that require customs inspection
- Products that are regulated by certain government agencies such as FDA, USDA, CPSA, NHTSA, and the FSIS.
For a list of all shipping restrictions in your target markets, check out the tax and import guide for all countries.
Save On Imports With Section 321
International shipping is complex and sometimes expensive. eCommerce retailers owe it to themselves to take advantage of Section 321 to reduce their import duties and streamline shipping processes.
Easyship is here to help you simplify all things shipping and fulfillment. If you haven’t already, pop into our Free Tax and Duty Calculator to get exact rates for importing to anywhere in the world. This way, you can predict your fully landed shipping costs and save with the most affordable courier options.
Already located in the USA?
If you're sourcing or manufacturing outside of the USA, we recommend you take a look at our global fulfillment solutions. Get in touch with one of our shipping consultants today.
You can also sign up for a free Easyship account to start saving today!