Customs, duties and tariffs are taxes that are imposed on any goods imported to the United States from outside countries. The duties can vary depending on what the good is and which country it is coming from. For instance, some countries may have a trade agreement set with the United States imposing taxes of certain amounts. There are also some goods that are exempt from paying the tariffs, no matter which country they are being imported from. The tax depends on the imported value of the product and must be paid by the owner of the goods, the person who bought the goods or a broker hired by the company. If the tax isnít paid in a timely manner, the CBP (the United States Customs and Border Protection, who is in charge of imposing all customs rules) has the right to seize the items and charge the person caring for the goods with serious federal crimes. The United States also has port authorities that oversee the import of goods by sea. Once the goods are brought into United States territory, the importer has 15 days to declare them and pay the associated duties. However, imports also have the right to store the goods in a foreign trade zone (areas physically located within the United States, but not legally belonging to U.S. territory or jurisdiction). If the importer chooses to store the goods, they can do so for up to 5 years without paying any duties on the items. However, once the items are transferred into the United States, the 15-day declaration rule still stands.
The specific rates of the duties vary significantly depending on the origin and the type of good imported. The rate could be imposed as a percentage or as a flat monetary value. The rate could also depend on the weight or quantity of a specific item. Importers are required to report what their goods are and how much of them they have before they are allowed to bring the goods into the United States. They are also generally required to attach a value to their goods. The CBP will then inspect the declaration, inspect the items and approve them for entry into the U.S. Once they are approved, the importer must pay the taxes.
Customs duties also apply to any U.S. residents bringing back items bought from foreign lands while traveling, even if the individual has only bought a single item. Generally, before entering U.S. airspace, the airline (or whatever other type of transportation was taken) will issue customs declaration forms to all travelers. The travelers must then declare what items they purchased and how much they purchased them for. When they enter the U.S., they are then subject to inspection and could be asked to pay duties before being allowed back into the country.