US Import Duty Rates

Hi, my name is Chris and I have lived in Vietnam for 12 years. Many people ask me for help with shipping goods out of Vietnam. A big part of shipping is getting the import duty amount correct. You don't want to pay too much and you don't want to pay too little. Let's talk about US Import Duty Rates if you produce in Vietnam and import to the USA.

Quick US import duty rate examples:
a 100% cotton t-shirt has a tax rate of 16.5% if made in Vietnam and sold in USA.
a 100% polyester t-shirt has a tax rate of 32% if made in Vietnam and sold in USA.

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What are duty rates to ship from Vietnam to your warehouse?

First step is to know your HS Code. From there you can look up your US import duty rates and determine if you get any tax breaks from Vietnam. For example, the HS code for cotton t-shirts is 6109.10.00. Read more below for step by step instructions or contact me for advice. If I can't answer your duty rate question then I can introduce you to a licensed customs broker who can.

To answer you quickly I first need to know which country you are shipping to. Every country has their own import duty rates for each product. I ship mostly to the USA so I will explain the US import duty rates.

FYI, there is no free trade agreement between US and Vietnam so duties from Vietnam to US are the same as from China to US. When Trump was in office there were some changes to the import duties which gave Vietnam an advantage but since Trump left office many of the advantages have gone away. Check with your local customs broker to keep up with changes that Trump made.

If you are shipping to a CPTPP member country then there are tax advantages but just how much depends on your HS Code. TPP countries include Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico to name 5 out of the 11.

In order to determine your US import duty rate, you will need to know about the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and the Customs and Border Protection Agency. Below I will explain what they are, how to determine the tax rate for your garment, and introduce you to some very valuable resources in case you aren’t sure about your interpretation of the tax code.
Vietnam Free Trade Agreements

Vietnam Duty Free Trade Agreements

If you are importing into any country other than Vietnam then first question you should ask is does my country have a free trade agreement with Vietnam. You can see a list of VN FTA's in the picture here.

If you are a registered business in the USA and registered as an importer then you are responsible for paying the US import duty rates. If you are a business but not registered as an importer of record then you can hire a company like DHL or Fedex to pay the duty on your behalf. In anycase you will need to consult with a professional customs broker to double confirm that you are paying the correct us import duty rate. If you under pay and get caught then you will have to still pay the difference and be flagged in the US import customs office as an offender. Your future shipments will be subjected to more scrutiny which can lead to delays.

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How do you classify your garment and figure out the US import duty rates?

First, you need to know about HS Codes. HS Codes come from the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. This system was created by the World Customs Organization (WCO) to categorize goods into approximately 5,000 commodity groups. This system is accepted and implemented by more than 200 countries worldwide.

This classification system is used to determine US import duty rates for goods imported into the USA. The HTS, first, classifies a garment based on its name, use, and/or the material used in its construction. Then, it assigns a ten-digit classification code-number to the garment. With that number you can look up the US import duty rates.

Let’s walk through a simple example.

Let’s say you are making plain 100% t-shirts using knitted fabric. What is the US import duty rate?

1. Go to this website: 2016 HTSA Supplement Edition
2. Download the ‘Full Document’
3. Scroll down to Section XI
4. Find Chapter 61 and read the notes
5. Find SubHeading 6109.10.00

Here you will see that the general US import duty rate for t-shirts made with cotton is 16.5%.

Determine Import Tax

Let’s walk through another example.

Let’s say you are making a woman’s dress shirt made with 100% polyester woven fabric. What is the US import duty rate?

1. Go to this website: 2016 HTSA Supplement Edition
2. Download the ‘Full Document’
3. Scroll down to Section XI
4. Find Chapter 6206
5. Find SubHeading 6206.40.30

Here you will see that the US import duty rate for a woman’s shirt of man-made fibers is 26.9%.

You can download the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) from their website,, but be sure to use the actual HTS and not the data web version. Near the upper right hand corner of the ITC web page, there is a box with a blue label that says 'Tariff Assistance’. In that box there is place that says "view" with "Current official HTS by chapter" as the first option listed. Click on that; then select the chapter you want from the table of contents. You can also get to the tariff by clicking on the 'Tariff Affairs' on the light blue band across the top of the page. General note 3, found at the beginning of the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS), explains the columns and abbreviations used throughout the tariff. The section notes at the beginning of Chapter 50 apply to all of the textile and apparel chapters in the HTS.

The International Trade Commission office edits and publishes the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS). You can contact Nomenclature Analyst for Textiles, Apparel and Footwear, if you have any detailed questions.

Overview of Section XI: Textiles and textile articles

Very quickly, scan over this list to get a feel for how garments are categorized in the harmonized tax schedule. The textile (fabric) and textile products (garments) section is a large one due to the variety of garment variables. This Wiki Pedia article explains the harmonized tax schedule in more detail.

50. Silk.
51. Wool, fine or coarse animal hair; horsehair yarn and woven fabric.
52. Cotton.
53. Other vegetable textile fibers; paper yarn and woven fabrics of paper yarn.
54. Man-made filaments.
55. Man-made staple fibers.
56. Wadding, felt and nonwovens; special yarns; twine, cordage, ropes and cables…
57. Carpets and other textile floor coverings.
58. Special woven fabrics; tufted textile fabrics; lace; tapestries; trimmings; embroidery.
59. Impregnated, coated, covered or laminated textile fabrics; textile suitable for industrial use.
60. Knitted or crocheted fabrics.
61. Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted.
62. Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted.
63. Other made up textile articles; sets; worn clothing and worn textile articles; rags.

Customs and Border Protection Agency

Remember that The International Trade Commission Office edits and publishes the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) government agency interprets and uses it to make the final judgment regarding your garment. The CBP determines classification, US import duty rates, valuation, and other aspects of importing goods into the United States. Why is this important to you? Someone in the CBP will make the final determination as to how your garment is classified. You will pay a customs broker to classify your garment for you, but in the end, if the CBP does not agree, then the CBP has the final say.

The best source of classification information is CBP's published rulings module, available online at You will find it under the acronym CROSS in the TRADE section-- it is a searchable database. Click on the acronym CROSS in the TRADE section, or search for CROSS on the CBP website search function, or search for "CROSS" via Google. The first page of the CROSS-system is a search menu; type in your product name. The search engine will bring up a list of relevant rulings, with brief summaries of each ruling. Look at the summaries to identify rulings for products most similar to yours. You should look at the full text of the rulings that seem most relevant-- they're not usually very long. For example, a search for 'T-shirt' brought up over 8,000 rulings. This is handy in case your garment classification is not crystal clear.

CBP also has a lot of general information available on importing into the United States on their website. There is also a list of ports of entry and contact information for how to obtain a ruling from CBP, either by email or snail mail. This link takes you to the template to request a ruling.

Additional Resources about US Import Duty Rates

1. This online learning website teaches you how to use the Harmonized Tariff Schedule

2. Ask an expert about your garment. The United States International Trade Commission has a help page where you can email or call to ask about classifying your garment. This is how I met Donnette Rimmer.

3. Rulings on Complicated Cases

4. HTS Search

5. Call for Help

In conclusion:

Determining your US import duty rate requires expertise and knowledge obtained from the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and Customs and Border Control Agency. Ultimately, your freight forwarding company will have a licensed customs broker on staff that will make the judgment for you. For the sake of doing the initial research on your own, you now have ample resources to get your feet wet when it comes to US Import Duty Rates.