Importing from the US

The United States is considered one of the top world economies in both export and import. Their largest trade partners are China, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. In the latter case, the top three types of goods imported from the US are aerospace products, electronic parts, and pharmaceuticals. Below you can find all you need to know about importing from the US: the applied customs duties, transportation, and all necessary documents for customs clearance.

Importing from the US – products

In 2019, imports from the US to the EU totaled 326 billion dollars. The two were each other’s largest trade partners for many years until China overcame the US as the biggest import partner for the EU in the first half of 2020. Still, the United States maintains a steady trade relationship with the EU and continues to be its leading export partner.

Main products imported from the US are:

  • machinery, mechanical and electrical appliances, and parts
  • vehicles, planes, ships, and other methods of transport
  • chemical industry products.

Among these, the most frequently imported products are:

  • planes and helicopters (about 12,5%)
  • turbojet and turboprop engines, as well as other gas turbines (7,5%)
  • petroleum and crude natural gas condensates (5,6%)
  • cars (3,1%)
  • medical and veterinary tools and equipment (2,9%)

The first list majorly overlaps with what is exported to the US from the EU, as the American market has constant growth potential. The US imports as much as 494 billion dollars’ worth of merchandise from the EU.

Importing from the US – shipping from the US

There are two ways of shipping products from the US to the EU: by sea and by air. If a larger number of products needs to be shipped, the sea is the more profitable choice.

Sea freight takes longer when the shipment starts its journey somewhere in the middle of the country. Transport from the west coast takes 4-6 weeks, and from the east 3-4. Many companies such as MSC, MAERSK, or CMA CGM offer freight from the US to the EU. Common places of loading are Newark, Los Angeles, and New York.

Airfreight is usually chosen when the product is valuable, small, or perishable. One of the major European airports that take on cargo transport between the EU and the US is Frankfurt, Germany. There Lufthansa Cargo planes fly to, among others, the JFK airport in New York.

US import customs

From the point of view of the EU, the United States are a third country, which is why customs and tax need to be covered in order to import. To find out the customs rates, you can look up the customs code in the TARIC system.

Customs rates for US imported products can be found under “Erga Omnes, ” a duty valid for all third countries. To ensure your products do not have imposed anti-dumping duties, look for the US on the list of included countries.  

Here are the customs rates on products often imported from the United States:

  • Helicopters of an unladen weight not more than 2 t, for civil use (8802 11 00 10) – 0%
  • Planes and other aircraft (2-15 ton weight) intended for civil use (8802 30 00 10) – 0%
  • Civil airplanes and helicopter parts (8803 30 00 10) – 0%
  • Natural gas condensates (2709 00 10 00) – 0%
  • New motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons (8702 10 91 00) – 10%
  • Safety belts (8708 21 10 00) – 3%
  • Inflatable safety cushion of high strength polyamide fiber (8708 95 10 10) – 3%
  • Syringes with or without needles made from plastic (9018 31 10 00) – 0%
  • Dental drill engines (9018 41 00 00) – 0%

It is worth remembering that placement on the market of some items may be restricted.

Some of the biggest and most competitive economic sectors of the US are:

  • the automotive sector; second largest production and trade zone in the world
  • aerial; the most profitable production zone
  • biopharmaceutical: over half of all research in the field is done in the US
  • energetic, leading in both production and consuming
  • medical (40% of the global industry economy)
  • machinery and equipment intended for agriculture, automotive, aircraft, and construction.  

No wonder that the majority of imported products are from those exact categories. Read more about customs and other taxes when importing from the US.

Documents needed when importing from the US

Mandatory documents for US import:

  • Commercial invoice, prepared by the exporter
  • Packing list, which is the product’s specification
  • Certificate of origin obtained from the exporter
  • The Air Waybill (AWB) in case of airfreight
  • Bill of Lading (B/L, BOL) obtained from the shipping company in the case of sea freight, alternatively the Sea Waybill (SWB)
  • Declaration of the customs value
  • Single Administrative Document (SAD) needed during customs clearance.

Additional documents needed depending on the shipment’s cargo:

  • Fumigation certificate issued by sanitary or customs authorities
  • The CITES certificate when importing fauna and flora species
  • CE compliance certificate, test reports, and declaration of conformity if the given product is subject to the New Approach directive
  • Other certificates, documents, and licenses.

The document list is the same when importing from other third-country nations.

In our blog’s “documents” section, we write about nuances dealing with completing all import and export documentation in more detail.

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