What are the common costs of importing?

One of the questions we get asked most is about how much importing a shipment into the US will cost, from beginning to end.  Understandably, people want to know a ballpark figure so that they know what to expect from the importing process.  The following is a table that hopefully can help you gauge what some of the common costs of the process will be, along with possible ranges for amounts if estimable:

Common Costs of Importing

The Product Varies
For most commodities, purchasing your product represents the majority of the importing cost. 
Quality Inspection $300 / day per inspector
Problems are much cheaper to fix before the goods have departed from your supplier’s facility, so quality inspections often pay for themselves.
Freight Services Varies
Freight prices vary dramatically based on the size of your shipment, the mode of transport, the delivery terms, and the origin and destination. Take great care to understand what you are paying for whenever you book international freight.
  • Is the shipment going by air or ocean?
  • Does the freight include pickup from the factory and delivery to the door?
  • Are arrival agent and warehouse fees included at destination?
  • Is there any on-time delivery guarantee?
Fumigation Certificate Varies
Customs requires wood products or wood packaging material to be fumigated against insects.
Cargo Insurance Varies
Purchase cargo insurance to protect against damages or theft in transit. Your freight carrier is probably not going to reimburse you for these problems, but your insurance provider will.
  • Flexport provides cargo insurance for just 0.30% of merchandise value for shipments to and from Europe and Asia and just 0.50% for most other regions.
U.S. Customs Bond, ISF Filing & Customs Clearance Competitive plans available
If your ISF is not filed on time, you risk a penalty from $5,000 to $10,000.  These costs vary by customs broker.  Flexport’s customs clearance includes ISF and Customs Entry.
Arrival Agent Fees Avg: $300 – $500
The arrival agent is the U.S. partner for your freight service provider.
  • If the arrival agent fees were not included in your shipping arrangements, you will need to pay the arrival agent for arranging the U.S. side logistics.
U.S. Customs exams Varies
U.S. Customs may examine your goods at their discretion.
  • Non-intrusive exams (or x-ray exams) cost ~$125.
  • Intrusive exams cost from $225 to $1,000+ depending on the quantity and volume of your goods.
Warehouse Fees Avg: $50 – $150
If the warehouse fees were not included in your shipping arrangements, you will need to pay the warehouse for holding your goods before pick-up.
  • Fee could vary depending on the quantity and volume of your goods.
  • Demurrage or late storage fees could apply if your shipment is not picked up by a certain, specified date ($30 – $500 per day).
Drayage & Trucking Fee Varies
Be sure to schedule a drayage or trucking service to pick up your goods from the warehouse if you are not picking up the goods yourself. Get this organized well in advance of your shipment’s arrival to avoid costly delays.
U.S. Customs Duties and Fees Varies
The Customs duties owed on a shipment will depend on the HS Code(s) (http://hts.usitc.gov/) of your products.  There will also be two additional mandatory fees that are applied to every importer’s shipments:
  • Merchandise Processing Fees (MPF): 0.3464% of your shipment total value (with a minimum of $25 and maximum of $485)
  • Harbor Maintenance Fees (HMF): 0.125% of your shipment total value (no min / max)

Submit below for a PDF version of this table that you can print for your reference: