HTS Code: How to Reduce the Duty Import from China

Apr 04, 2024 Chapter 5. Shipping

Now, I’m going to show you step by step how to find the HTS code and Calculate Import Duty from China to the US. You will learn a skill at your fingertip for finding out your Tax and tariffs on your own when you import from China.



It is so exciting when you’ll find a new product, and you are starting a new business. The most critical thing for you is to avoid the business blind spot. 

First, I’m going to review one of your blind spots. That is your Duty, Tax, or Tariffs. So exactly how much import duty from China? 

 Before we rush into finding out our duty rate, let’s get the very important question answered.



Why do you need to know your duty rate?

Here 2 very important reasons.

The first reason is that find the right product Duty rate can help you save money. 

For example, you’re contemplating importing these products: both products look like an umbrella.


HTS code lookup


Yes, they are, but if you look closer, they’re not the same. one is your travel umbrella another is your patio umbrella. as you can see here, there’s a knob that you can adjust the height up and down.

So, if one product duty rate is free and the other one you have to pay an additional 25% tariffs, Would you think twice about which product to choose.

 Absolutely, I would choose the first one which product is going to make me more money.


The second reason is that you have to do with legal. You are the importer of the record. You are legally responsible for paying the correct Duty amount.


On this subject, I want you to be streaming carefully when the supplier called you on a DDP basis.

They purposely declared lower commercial invoice value to avoid some of the Duty. if you are the importer of the record, you are still legally responsible for whatever amount you should pay and if the custom finds out and audit you, you could get a fine. 

As the entrepreneur starting and running your business, you really don’t want any blind spot. These two are very important reasons for you to understand why you need to know your duty rate. 

Now let’s find out what Duty and fees do we need to pay in order to clear our item out of the Customs.

The first one is the quick duty question!



When for Free Import Duty from China to the US?

suppose I’m getting a customized sample from the supplier to the US with a value of $500. Do I need to pay for Duty?

The answer is: NO 

Because the declared value is less than $800, the Duty is free. If your commercial invoice value is over $800,  you need to pay for the Duty.

To determine your duty rate, you need to know your HTS code which I’m gonna show you how to do an HTS code lookup.


Duty-free exemption list

  • Australia: 1000 AUD
  • Canada: 20 CAD
  • Europe: 22 EUR
  • Japan: 130 USD
  • New Zealand: 308 USD (incl. freight)
  • Russia: 10000 RUB
  • Singapore: 307 USD
  • South America: 50 USD
  • United Kingdom: 15 GBP
  • United States: 800 USD


Quick tool to calculate import duty & taxes for hundreds of destinations worldwide.




2 Additional Import Duty from China to the US.




1. merchandise processing fee. 

It’s not a lot: 0.34%. this fee applies to both air and ocean shipments. Minimum charges 26 dollars that mean if you’re total commercial invoice value times your percentage is less than 26 you will need to pay 26 but no more than 508 dollars


2. harbor maintenance fee

it’s another one that is very little.

This fee only applied to ocean shipment.


SO, You pay Duty = Regular Duty rate+ merchandise processing fee + harbor maintenance fee + Additional Tariffs.



Since these two fees are pretty much lower, all we have to do is to find our HTS code to determine our duty rate when our shipment is over $800. 



The Difference Between the HTS or HS?

 HTS or HS, most people are confused by this.

Once you know the difference between the HTS or HS, you will never ask this question. Why can I not find my suppliers’ code? 

Here is the difference. 


HS code stands for harmonized system code.

HTS code stands for harmonized Tariff Schedule code.  


 here is the specific difference:

When we talk about the harmonized system code, we’re talking about a six digits code that is used by 200 countries, 98% of the world trade, and this harmonized system code is admitted by the World Customs Organization. 

When we talk about the HTS code, this is regulated by the US International Trade Commission – ITC. As you can imagine, we are one of the 200 countries that participated in the harmonized system. Our first six digits in the HTS code are the same as the HS code.

However, the last 4 digits are country-specific. This is why your 10 digital HTS code could be different from the ten digits that your Chinese suppliers give it to you.


 Let’s take a look at an example:

HTS code LOOKUP for this beautiful piece of the hand-made leather bag.

The first six digits are 4 2 0 2 2 1. These six digits are harmonized system code, whether you are in China United States, Canada, Australia.


These first six digits are harmonized. They are the same. the last four digits 0 0 1 0 are country-specific.


Altogether, 10 digits we call this HTS code. 


Example for HTS code means: 

Now, we’re gonna break down the first six digits. So you are familiar with chapter hiding and the Subheading.


The first two digits represent the chapter name. In our case, our handbag is made of leather. So it belongs to chapter 42—everything made of leather. 

 The second two digits represent the heading. The heading further classified if this product is a trunk or suitcase or handbag made of leather. In our case, we are a hand back. So it belongs to hiding 02. 

The 3rd two digits represent the Subheading. The subheading further specifies if this handbag has an outer surface made of leather. 

Yes, we are made of leather. So our first sixth harmonized code is 420221.

Now, the last four digits are country-specific. If this handbag is handmade, then the classification is 0010. For u.s. Importers, it is important that you know your specific HTS code. 



How to do an HTS code lookup?

Now we’re gonna do a live search on the HTS code that we picked out for our travel umbrella and the garden umbrella

 The first step is to find the chapter and the heading (first 4 digits). 

there are four ways to find our HTS code chapter and heading:


    1. Google typing in our product keyword

    2. Ask our supplier

    3. Contact a freight forwarder

    4. Go straight to the database on the ITC website


ITC stands for International Trade Commission who regulates our HTS code.


Since asking a supplier or asking a freight forwarder takes time, we just do a live search on Google and then validate our findings in the database on the USITC website. 


Let’s do it okay I’m typing in umbrella HTS code to get an idea of the first four digits. As you can see here, the first result is showing in 6601.

US HTS code lookup 

So I’m gonna use the 6601 as a point of reference, and then I’m going to head over to the ITC website, and type in umbrella and just to see what the database is gonna show us.

HTS code finder



Interestingly, the databases showing us almost identical results from Google 6601. It represents our broad chapter of the umbrella

the beautiful thing is when you type in this keyword umbrella. the umbrella will

be automatically highlighted in the description so you can pay attention to

the description that has an umbrella in there to know which HTS code description matches your product.

HTS code means 


 let me give you a quick tip. if you know your product material construction, your product performance, and your product function. You should be able to read the HTS code description and find the one that makes the most sense.


For example, our travel umbrella this description said for handhold umbrellas chiefly used for protection against rain.


This matches our travel umbrella.  


So we’re gonna choose 6603.20.30 for our travel umbrella and 


The one our patio umbrella garden or similar umbrella is 6601. 10. 00. Now, look at the duty rate. The garden umbrella duty rate is 6.5% /_, and then the travel umbrella the Duty is free/_.

Now, you know your import duty rate from China to the US



How do I know if I Need to Import Tariffs from China to US?


Find the tariff percentage. 

We said our garden umbrella is Duty 6.5%/_. Except behind the 6.5%, there is a slash, and there’s an underscore. 

 When you see this sign  “/_ ” slash underscore, that means there are additional Tariffs attached to the HTS code you are researching.



there are 4 tariffs lists:


LIST 1  25% in effect since 2018

LIST 2  25% in effect since 2018

LIST 3  25% in effect since 2018

LIST 4a  7.5 % new in effect since 2020.02.14

LIST 4b  15% The tariff was suspended Until Further Notice


So how do you know whether your product is subject to tariffs? I’ll show you a shortcut right now.


This link is your shortcut link.  Through this link, you can quickly find out if your products have any tariffs attached to them.

All you have to do is to go back to the HTS code that we say has a 6.5% and the slash underscore here. This is our umbrella that we wanted to sell. 

Just click on this link copy and paste your HTS code, then you will be able to find your additional tariffs in addition to your regular Duty.


HS HTS duty calculate


So we copy this 6601. 10. 00 and paste over to this website, and then we hit on search as you can see: 


(List 4B) $300 Billion Tariff Action, which means it means no additional tariff right now




Now, you know both your import Duty and tariff percentage from China. All you have to do is to calculate: How much Duty you owe. 



Finalized Import Duty from China to US Calculation.

 We’re gonna use the garden umbrella 6601. 10. 00 as an example.

This is a simple excel sheet all you have to do to put down your quantity and unit price, and then you will have your commercial invoice value.

Your Duty is applied to your commercial invoice Value. Try not to trust anyone under-declare your commercial invoice value once you get audited you still pay all the Duty and also plus the fine.

The total duty rate doesn’t forget the two fees even though it’s very little you still need to add this to your total.

Duty to the customs.

import duty from China to US


So all is $697.14 if you are buying 5000 handlebars at $2 per piece.


Note: Declared Commercial Value.

The customs fee is calculated based on a percentage of Customs value. The customs value is based on the declared commercial value, and the commercial value should be indicated on the commercial invoice-this is the customs clearance file issued by the supplier.

  • The United States, Canada & Australia: Based on FOB value
  • European Union: Based on CIF value


So, It is always the importer’s responsibility to ensure that the correct declared value is indicated on the commercial invoice. This responsibility cannot be transferred to the seller.



By the way, there are two more columns on the HTS code website I want you to be familiar with, so you are not confused like many people. 


how to find HTS code


The 1 column is the special rate countries these are the countries who enjoy free trade with the United States 

For example, if you hover over the country code, you will be able to see Australia, Mexico. So it’s free Duty if you are importing out of Mexico.

the 2 column represents two countries which have highly Duty level against their product. One is Cuba and another in North Korea 


Exactly what’s going on here so to summarize the three simple steps were used to find out exactly how much import Duty from China we need to pay step number.


  • 1.  we find our regular duty rate by looking up our HTS code step.
  • 2. we find out if this HTS code has additional tariffs attached to it by looking up the four lists so far.
  • 3. we use the simple excel sheet to calculate our Duty based on our commercial invoice value.



How and When Should You Pay the Duty Fees?


It depends on the shipping incoterm you choose when shipping from China.

1. Shipment via postal service (such as China Post/Hongkong Post/EMS).

When your package arrives at the post office, you need to pay the postman and/or go to the local post office to pay any duties and processing fees owed.


2. If it is shipped by express service (such as DHL/UPS/TNT/FedEx).

The courier will pay you the tax bill they paid on your behalf, or ask for delivery costs.


3. Transported by an air or sea freight.

    • 3.1 If there is no arrangement to transfer the goods to your door, you will need to clear customs by yourself. In this case, you will directly pay taxes at the port or airport where the goods arrive. Or, you also need to arrange a broker to clear the goods. If you hire a broker, they will charge you for their services and any responsibilities they Duty pay on your behalf.
    • 3.2 If you arrange a freight forwarder, they will help you clear the goods and charged any taxes you owe.




Check Import Duty from China to other countries


Useful Duty Check Links

Here’s a useful link checking worldwide VAT, GST, and Sales Tax for easy calculation of your landed cost. Besides, some authority government links listed below to check the import duty from China.

While the government data is updated and authoritative, there are also 3rd party tools for easy math.


How to calculate the U.S. import tax rate according to HTS CODE?

The official website of the U.S. tax rate query is

The query method is very simple, just input HTS CODE. From China to the United States, and check General. We have already talked about the detailed method above.


How to calculate Japan’s import tax rate according to HS CODE?

official website:


1. Select the corresponding code according to the chapter

2. Check the corresponding tax rate in the WTO column, which is China’s


How to calculate Russia’s import tax rate based on HS CODE?

official website:


1. Search for Russia by chapter

2. downloaded a WORD file, which contains the import tax rate


How to calculate Canada’s import tax rate according to HS CODE?

official website:


1. Choose /Year
2. Select Customs Tariff by chapter according to the chapter
3. Choose HTML
4. Check the tax rate


How to check the import duty from China to EU countries?

The import tariffs of EU countries are uniform, including these countries:

The official website for inquiring about tariffs:


1. confirm the accuracy of the HS code

2. Re-query the tax rate corresponding to the code

3. As shown in the figure below, the third country is the tax rate suitable for China.


How to check the import Duty from China to the FTA countries?

Many countries have signed free trade agreements with China, and there are tariff preferences. The specific countries are as follows:

Maldives, Georgia, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Iceland, Costa Rica, Peru, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Pakistan, ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam)

search website:

Query method:

1. Choose a country and click to search

2. View the results


How to check the import tariffs of other 88 countries?

The Ministry of Commerce China has a universal query website:

Although the update speed may not be as fast as the official website, it is also very good. It can find 88 countries/regions import and export taxes and fees; 76 export commodity reports; 48 countries/regions regulatory conditions; 55 countries/regions tax calculation.






How to Reduce Import Duties from China?

Reducing import duties from China can be approached through various strategies, including leveraging trade agreements, utilizing duty drawback programs, ensuring accurate tariff classifications, and exploring preferential trade agreements.

Here are detailed steps to consider:

Trade Agreements:

Free Trade Agreements (FTAs): While China and your home country may not have an FTA, exploring existing agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) can be beneficial. RCEP includes China and other Asia-Pacific countries and offers reduced tariffs for member states.
Negotiations: Lobbying for or supporting negotiations between your country and China to establish more favorable trade terms can help reduce tariffs over time.
Utilize Duty Drawback Programs:

Duty Drawback: This allows importers to get refunds on duties paid on imported goods that are subsequently exported or used in the manufacture of exported goods. Check with your country’s customs authority for specifics on how to qualify and apply.
Correct Tariff Classification:

Harmonized System (HS) Codes: Ensure that you are using the correct HS codes for your products. Misclassification can lead to higher duties. Consulting with a customs broker or trade specialist can help accurately classify your goods.
Binding Tariff Information (BTI): Obtain a BTI from your customs authority for certainty on the applicable tariff classification.


Preferential Trade Programs:

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP): If applicable, check if your country offers GSP benefits for certain products from China, which can reduce or eliminate duties.

Special Economic Zones (SEZs): Products manufactured in SEZs might benefit from reduced duties. Investigate whether your products qualify.


Adjust Supply Chain and Sourcing:

Value Addition: Consider performing part of the manufacturing process in countries with which your country has FTAs. By adding significant value outside China, the product might qualify for lower duties under rules of origin criteria.

Alternative Suppliers: Explore sourcing from other countries with lower duty rates or preferential trade agreements with your home country.


Local Legislation and Incentives:

Government Programs: Investigate if there are any government programs or incentives aimed at reducing import duties for certain industries or products.

Tax Incentives: Some countries offer tax reliefs or incentives for certain imports. Consult with a trade attorney or customs expert to understand if such options are available.


Trade Compliance and Documentation:

Proper Documentation: Ensure all import documentation is accurate and complete to avoid unnecessary delays or additional charges.

Advance Rulings: Request advance rulings from customs authorities to clarify the tariff classification, origin, and valuation of your products.

Customs Brokers and Trade Consultants:

Expert Advice: Engage customs brokers and trade consultants who specialize in navigating complex import regulations and can provide tailored advice on reducing duties., like DDP shipping, consolidate shipments



Implementing a combination of these strategies can help effectively reduce import duties from China, potentially lowering overall costs and enhancing competitiveness.




China Duty Conclusion:

See this is so easy to do an HTS code lookup and then calculate the Duty fee. If you need a China sourcing agent to help you buy from China, please feel free to contact us.  

You can always ask your freight forwarder or your custom Booker but when you are doing your product research, and you have this skill at your fingertip you can look up your Import Duty from China in ten Minutes.


With the development of artificial intelligence, you can directly ask the artificial intelligence what the tariff / import duty you need to pay is.


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