Understanding Custom Duties when Importing Electronics from Asia

Custom duties is always a primary concern for manufacturing companies sourcing abroad. In the field of electronics manufacturing, this is issue is no different as it is always a complicated issue manufacturers have to face. For each country, there are different custom duties to electronics with varying rules and fees. Custom duties for importing electronics have recently become a lot of attention due to the ongoing tensions between the US and China.

Electronics business owners have to be knowledgeable of these customs charges and tariffs with electronics so they can safely import electronic products from Asia to other countries with no delay and legality issues. You would not want to have your electronic products be blocked at the customs office which will affect your business flow and efficiency.

Here are important information you need to know of when importing electronics from Asia including the rates and vital paper works you have to deal with in order to import your electronic products with no issues in the customs office. All these vital information were all based from each country’s custom database and our very own trade experience.


Importing Electronic Goods in the US

The US has always been a popular importing destination due to its wide market range and strong economic prosperity. We are experienced when it comes to importing in the US due to our work with multiple clients in the past and this includes importing electronic goods as well.

On a rare importing experience, one of our clients decided to import innovative electrothermic coffee makers (for domestic use only) from China to the US. After passing all the standards including product certifications, our product was checked in the customs office for its duty rate. Based on the tariff database for that year, the electronic gas/compressor was tagged with a specific tariff rate of 3.7% as its favored text rate for a product coming from an MFN (most favored nation). The difficulty here was just to determine what product category the product falls into. If you’re dealing with a standard product, the whole process is quite easy.

China has been favored nation for the US in customs terms since it joined the WTO, despite all the controversy both countries were caught in during recent years.  In order to establish their rocky trade relations, US has kept China on its MFN list despite disagreements on other aspects of trade and commerce. Because of this was all before this development, we ended up paying the 3.7% tariff with electronics which is the lowest possible value for our product and it seemed fair. Today we would have to check again what the actual rate is now.

As of May 2019, President Trump imposed he would raise tariffs on selected electronic products up to 25% if they are imported from China. This move is a part of his campaign to improve US’ trade practices with other countries which he deemed as biased. Talks between US and China are constantly happening in order to improve their trade relationship and this could expect some changes on the tariffs and trade information between these countries anytime soon.

Importing electronic goods in the US is a fairly simple concept when it comes to down to custom duties and rates. The only thing you have to note of is whether the country you are importing from is under their MFN list. If the country is not on the list, then expect least priority and higher custom duties and fees but expect your product to come through as long as it is legal and passes all standards. The only thing intimidating with importing electronics in the US is the strict customs office who is simply doing their job. For more info please visit the official US customs page here.


Importing Electronic Goods in the EU

The European Union is an economic group which consists of 28 states all located in Europe. Members of the European Union follow the same import tax on electronics and other custom duties coming from other countries who are not members of the economic group. Import tax on electronic products only apply once and are no longer a factor to the market value of these electronic devices once they are in the European Union territory.

European Union implements strict custom duties on electronic products which they are also known to be manufacturing. For example, electronic appliances which are primary import products of France, Italy or Spain are lobbying for more expensive customs charges compared to electronic devices in which they are not known for manufacturing themselves. All members of the European Union also have VAT applied to custom duties but are most of the time, which is not negligible for wholesale electronics. You can check for your exact product and country here.

Back in 2016, the World Trade Organization (WTO) approved the trade agreement known as the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The ITA eliminated all import duties on some electronic products which included the EU among other markets. Products covered in this agreement have 0% import duty. Make sure to check tariff classification and product descriptions covered by the ITA for your product portfolio.


Importing Electronic Goods in Australia

Australia’s isolated location does makes it a popular importing destination but it does not affect custom duties on electronics compared to other major countries despite it being a continent on its own. The average custom tax for electronic products is at 10% of its actual price while electronic devices priced AU$1000 and below are all exempted from import duties, customs charges and the Import Processing Charge (IPC). The IPC only applies if the total value is more than AU$1000. You double check the tariffs rates for specific products here.

One custom tax in Australia importers should note of is the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which currently sits at 10%. This custom tax is added on top of the customs charges of the products along with transportation and insurance fees. For small up to mid-sized electronics manufacturers, there should be no problem or whatsoever on tariff duties with electronics and they would end up paying for the 10% GST alone except for electronic devices which are part of the exception.


Refund on Custom Duties for Electronics

Custom duties for importing electronics are rarely refundable except on special situations wherein the customs office are at fault with wrong charges. Customs duties are right away added on top of the electronic products’ market value which is the reason why electronic products vary in prices from one country to another. Custom duties to electronics are already embedded within the product’s value as soon as it is accepted as an imported product.

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