Exhibiting in the United States can be very profitable, which is why so many international companies put up with the differences of exhibiting stateside. Surprises often include drayage fees, different rules at different convention centers, and understanding labor union regulations.
Just getting into the country can be aggravating if you are not prepared, especially when it comes to U.S. customs. There are several rules and regulations – not to mention time constraints – that you must navigate to get to your show.
Temporary Import Bond
Were you to have to pay taxes and/or a duty fee for every display item you bring in to the U.S., it could cost you quite a lot.
Fortunately, you can utilize a temporary import bond (TIB) to avoid those fees. This enables you to place a deposit to avoid payment of duty and taxes. The TIB amount is usually twice the estimated duty and/or taxes. Products imported under a TIB can remain in the United States for up to a year. Once these goods are properly re-exported (or destroyed), you can request a refund of the deposit.
When using a TIB to import goods:
- On the shipping documentation, be sure to indicate or notify your customs broker that you are sending a temporary import.
- Remember to properly document when you re-export or destroy your items. Failing to do so means your bond and security deposit are forfeited.
Before shipping your items, you’ll need to obtain a harmonized tariff schedule of the U.S. (HTSUS) code. Failure to obtain your correct code can lead to non-compliance penalties, border delays, seizure of goods, and even denial of import privileges.
An HTS code was developed by the World Customs Organization and is used to classify and define internationally traded goods. An HTSUS is a 10-digit code that’s specific to importing in the United States.
Each 2-digit section represents a certain classification, for example 0901.21.0010 is organic, roasted coffee.
- 09 – Coffee, Tea, Mate, and Spices
- 01 – Coffee
- 21 – Roasted, not Decaffeinated
- 00 – No Distinction
- 10 – Certified Organic
Possible Restricted or Prohibited Items
Any product you bring in the United States must to be in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations. Check with the specific government agency that regulates your product for any possible restrictions or required documentation. A full list of the agencies can be found here.
- Art materials
- Cultural property
- Hazardous/toxic/flammable materials
- Household appliances
- Certain electronic products
- Toys and children’s articles
You may also need a special license or permit to import:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Animal and animal products
- Certain drugs
- Firearms and ammunition
- Fruits, nuts, meat and meat products
- Milk, dairy, and cheese products
- Plants and plant products
- Poultry and poultry products
- Petroleum and petroleum products
Additional Helpful Information
Here’s a checklist of additional documentation that will help speed your time through customs:
- Official documentation with the date and location of the trade show
- Confirmation that you are an exhibitor
- Documentation indicating value of items
- All items should be marked “Not for Sale”
- If you have any North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) items, a completed “Entry and Manifest of Merchandise Free of Duty” form
For any issues about dealing with U.S. customs, The Trade Group is here to help. Call us at 800-343-2005. We can assist you with TIBs, HTSUSs, and any other abbreviations you encounter as you bring your show to the States.