It is now cheaper than ever to send a parcel to the United States, as the US government raises the low value threshold for imports from $200(£140) to $800(£560).
So what happened?
Previously when shipping to America, goods worth more than $200 would pass through formal clearing due to their value. This process takes several days and allows for the parcel to be checked and duties and taxes, which could range from 5-37.5% of the total value of the shipment to be applied.
Typically, if duties and taxes are applied to a shipment, it is the responsibility of the recipient of the package to pay them. This adds to the transit time of the goods, as they wouldn’t be released from customs unless the duties are paid, as well as adding extra costs to the recipient of the goods.
With the minimum value raised to $800, many higher value items will no longer have to pass through formal customs clearance or have duties and taxes applied, making it significantly cheaper and faster to ship to the United States.
What does that mean?
This is great news for British retailers. Small businesses that have a lot of items priced around the $200 mark will benefit the most from this change. The old limit made British products more difficult to market in the United States, and the change may well encourage previously reluctant businesses to branch out and sell in the USA.
The US is the top non-EU destination for exports for SMEs, 35% of SME exporters ship regularly to the USA. The new threshold – around £560 at today’s exchange rate – on items before they must have duties and taxes imposed covers the majority of items for our online retailers and smaller manufacturers. In combination with the reduced paperwork costs and increased delivery speeds, British companies may find doing business in the USA more tempting than ever before.
No, I meant what does that mean for me?
Well it depends who you are. If you’re a small business owner, this is great news. If you’re someone who doesn’t often ship to the US, this probably won’t affect you as much. It’s more useful than you might think though – if you’re shipping a friend a new phone, for example, these changes will make it easier and faster to do so.
It’s just important to remember that not everything will be affected by this. If you’re shipping food, for example, it will likely still have to go through special clearance processes, as some US Government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration, may still require formal customs entries on all goods, regardless of value. Make sure that your item doesn’t creep above the $800 threshold or the receiver will have to pay duties – not a happy mistake if it’s a gift!