Shipping to U.S. territories is an excellent way to garner a more robust customer base and ultimately boost sales. Your eCommerce company may have been putting off shipping items overseas because you’re trying to understand how it all works – customs, duties, taxes, delivery times and the like.
However, shipping to U.S. territories from the mainland U.S. can be much simpler than you realize, as shipments to U.S. territories, both incorporated and territories and unincorporated territories, are seen as domestic shipments as opposed to international shipments and thus aren’t required to pass through customs duties and tariffs. Having a better grasp of how to ship to U.S. territories will not only make it easier to send products to them, but to ultimately grow your eCommerce business.
What are the U.S. Territories?
In the United States, there are several locations that are classified as U.S. territories, which, while not full-fledged states within the country, are still considered within U.S. jurisdiction. In terms of shipping logistics, they’re subsequently considered domestic as opposed to overseas and therefore aren’t subject to duties and tariffs when shipping from anywhere else in the United States, including other U.S. territories.
If you’re interested in shipping to Puerto Rico from the mainland United States for example, UPS shipping to Puerto Rico, FedEx shipping to Puerto Rico and the like wouldn’t have to go through customs and tariffs, as Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory.
The U.S. territories, including island territories, include the following:
- American Samoa
- Baker Island
- Howland Island
- Jarvis Island
- Johnston Atoll
- Kingman Reef
- Midway Islands
- Navassa Island
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Palmyra Atoll
- Puerto Rico
- U.S. Virgin Islands
- Wake Island
What are the abbreviations for U.S. territories?
Just like U.S. states, U.S. territories have two-letter codes that make it easier for shipments to get to the right recipients, whether you’re shipping to American Samoa, shipping to Northern Mariana Islands or anywhere else considered a United States territory.
Some of these abbreviations include the following:
- AS - American Samoa
- GU - Guam
- MP - Northern Mariana Islands
- PR - Puerto Rico
- VI - Virgin Islands
- UM - U.S. Minor Outlying Islands which include Baker Island, Jarvis Island, Howland Island, Midway Islands, Johnston Atoll, Palmyra Atoll, Kingma Reef, Wake Island, and Navassa Island.
Shipping to U.S. Territories
When shipping to Puerto Rico or any other U.S. territory from the mainland United State, it’s important a few key points about the shipping process. For example, if you’re shipping to the U.S. Virgin Islands from the mainland United States, your shipments are exempt from duties, though you’ll still be required to pay an excise tax, which usually ranges from zero to six percent.
If you’re shipping items like cigarettes or other types of tobacco, the taxes will often be higher. For shipping alcohol, for example, the alcoholic beverages will often be subject to flat tax rates, determined mainly by the volume of the alcohol. If the shipment is for Puerto Rico, you should also expect to pay a sales tax of 5.5 percent.
There are also municipal sales taxes that typically vary from zero to 1.5 percent. If you’re not sure of the taxes to be paid when shipping to Puerto Rico using USPS or another courier, you can always seek more clarification from the shipping company.
Likewise, for shipping to Guam from the mainland U.S., your company will be exempt from duties but is still subject to paying fees that apply to the type of business or importation you’re engaged in, specifically a $5.00 processing fee for any shipments entering the territory. You’ll also be required to pay a four percent gross receipt tax on all goods sold in the territory, among other fees.
Taxes and Duties When Shipping to U.S. Territories
It's important to note, however, that many U.S. territories do in fact impose customs duties and import taxes on international shipments.
Puerto Rico, for example, imposes a 22 percent import duty on fashion products and 20 percent import duty on luggage. Many products imported to the U.S. Virgin Islands face 20 percent import duties, including fashion products, watches, mobile devices and health and beauty products. In Guam, fashion products, toys and sports gear face steep import duties of 35 percent.
How Easyship Can Help
Easyship offers you a wide selection of roughly 250 shipping options that allow you choose a reputable shipping company for your U.S. territory deliveries.
Notably, your eCommerce company can also use the Easyship shipping calculator to get a much better idea of expected shipping costs and delivery times, something especially useful if you plan on using Amazon shipping to Puerto Rico and other territories or a similar online marketplace.
In addition, Easyship offers help with choosing the best courier rates, generating labels and tracking and monitoring shipments, giving eCommerce entrepreneurs the transparency and assistance they need when shipping to United States territories.
Shipping to United States territories from the mainland U.S. is a great way to scale an eCommerce business by broadening your customer base and boosting sales.
Easyship is always available to help you take the first step towards shipping to U.S. territories, offering your eCommerce business a wide array of shipping options for letting you choose the cheapest way to ship to Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, as well as the fastest and best value shipping options.
Sign up today to get a free quote and expand your business beyond the borders of the mainland United States!
Originally published April 9, 2019. Updated June 19, 2019 to reflect additional information on taxes and duties in U.S. territories.
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