United States import guide
Find everything you need to know about selling goods into the U.S.
The United States (U.S.) is a vast and diverse country with a highly developed economy, a stable political system, and a multicultural population. The nation boasts a robust consumer culture and high demand for a wide range of products. When targeting the U.S. market as an ecommerce retailer, consider the following factors:
The U.S. has a large and highly competitive retail market comprising large chain stores, specialty retailers, and online marketplaces. Global retail sales are projected to grow 4.5% in 2023, exceeding 30.3 trillion USD by year-end. Ecommerce retailers should know that consumer preferences can vary widely by region, so conducting market research to understand local demands is crucial.
Cultural and language considerations
The U.S. has a diverse population with various cultural backgrounds and languages spoken. Retailers should be mindful of cultural differences and communication styles when targeting the U.S. market.
Like any foreign market, it is crucial to be aware of and take the necessary steps to sell products in to the U.S. This includes deciding how you will handle duties and taxes at checkout, ensuring you have the correct import documentation for U.S. CBP, ensuring your products are not prohibited and restricted, and more. Our Basic importing procedures guide goes through these steps in detail.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency regulates imports into the United States and enforces laws related to importing goods. Ecommerce retailers must be aware of the customs regulations that must be followed, including requirements for labeling and documentation, regulations related to product safety, trade agreement requirements, as well as any required documents or licenses for restricted items.
While the U.S. has no import tax, it has a federal tax system and state and local taxes that can vary widely by location. Ecommerce retailers should know the costs associated with importing and selling products in the U.S., including customs duties and sales taxes.
The U.S. has a high de minimis threshold of 800 USD, so most imports enter the country duty-free.
Ecommerce retailers need to prepare and submit various documents when importing goods into the U.S., including:
- Commercial invoices
- Bills of lading
- Packing lists
Additional documentation may be required, as the U.S. import documentation guide explains.
The United States has a well-developed transportation infrastructure, including ports, airports, and highways. Ecommerce retailers should be aware of logistics and transportation options, including shipping, storage, and distribution, as well as any transportation regulations.
The most widely used carriers in the U.S. are:
Ecommerce retailers can find a wealth of helpful resources online to assist them in navigating U.S. import regulations, including government agencies like CBP, trade associations like the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA), and online tools and databases like the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system.
By exploring our paid country guides, you can better understand the U.S.' import regulations, business practices, and consumer culture. Our expert insights and guidance can help your ecommerce business succeed in this dynamic market.