How to Calculate Import Custom Duty

customs house image by Edward White from

Calculating import duty can be confusing, even for a regular importer of products. When an importer wishes to bring foreign products into commerce in another nation, he must pay a tax to the government called the import duty. The import duty typically comes out to a reasonable percentage of the commodity being sold. The amount will vary based on the product, how much of the product is being shipped and sold, what country it comes from and various legislation.

Know whether your items are exempt from import duty before working with a broker. Items that are exempt from import duty include books, instruments, containers that were exported and are returning, objects exported for repair and animals.

Determine the duty and taxes on your item by looking up the classification number in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) of the country you are exporting to. These must be purchased online for $30 to $50.

Write down the 10-digit item classification number, also called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule classification.

Choose the correct price in the HTS depending on your country’s trade relations with the country you are exporting to. For example, countries that have regular trade relations with the U.S. will pay less import duty than a country that does not, such as Cuba.

Send the check through a licensed customs broker or directly to the customs agency of the country you are exporting to. Acquire and keep record of the payment.


  • The HTS gives you the best price estimation for the product you are importing. Discrepancies in the listed price may occur once your goods are processed.