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Importing Sneakers into the U.S.

If you are importing sneakers into the United States, you should be aware of these guidelines for proper HTS classification.

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Sneakers, trainers, and tennis shoes make up a huge percentage of all footwear in the international market. If you’re interested in importing sneakers, there are several things you should know before trying to bring a shipment of foreign-made footwear through US customs.

The key to importing sneakers is their classification according to their Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HS) codes. The HS Code for a product determines its duty rate, applicable free trade agreements, regulations, and more.

Classification of footwear depends on two factors:

  • Identification of the component material comprising the greatest external surface area of the upper part of the shoe, and
  • The material of the external surface area of the outer sole.

Once you have this information, you can begin classifying sneakers.

Sneakers fall under “tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym shoes, training shoes and the like” in the HS code database. This category covers athletic footwear other than sports footwear, whether or not principally used for such athletic games or purposes.

Footwear is Chapter 64 of the HS database, so all footwear will be classified with 64 as the first two digits. The remaining 8 digits depend on the shoes themselves.

After consulting the database and using your shoes’ country of origin to determine the proper classification code, you can figure out the duty rate applicable. In addition, your sneakers will be subject to Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF) and Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF), two fees that are levied regardless of the content of your cargo at all US ports to pay for basic port handling.

As long as your sneakers aren’t made out of endangered snakeskin or protected materials, there are no other fees needed on the goods you are importing, aside from the typical common costs of importing. You may wish to consult an import-export specialist to get an expert opinion on the HS code and trade status for your shoes.

For more information on importing footwear, please review Customs’ publication on footwear: http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/icp022_3.pdf

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