Importation of Textiles Into the United States - Sobel Network Shipping Co., Inc.

Importation of Textiles Into the United States

The U.S. is one of the largest global markets for imported textiles used in the manufacture of furniture, clothing, and accessories. However, the importation of such products is not always easy and often takes time. You’ll need to take legal precautions per laws and trade barriers before importing textiles into the U.S. In this article, we will examine what steps it takes to meet and follow all regulations. 

U.S. Rules and Regulations on Textile Importation 

The U.S. has a range of regulations for the importation of textiles. They vary depending on the country, such as specific rules for India, Mexico, and China. However, some basic rules universally apply to all textiles brought into the country.

Multiple government agencies oversee the importation of textiles into the United States. These agencies include the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 

  • CBP: Most regulations are enforced by CBP (the CBP establishes the guidelines for importing textiles and carries out all inspections).
  • All textiles brought into the country must have labels that describe the following: 


                         Country of origin

                         Fiber composition and content

                         Manufacturer’s identity

                         Care instructions 

  • EPA: The EPA checks the textiles for possible toxic substances or pesticides. 
  • FTC: The FTC works to verify the product label and property compliance. In many cases, textiles are seized because of a violation of intellectual property laws.
  • USDA: The USDA inspects any material that is said to be organic to ensure that it has no synthetic materials.
  • CPS: The CPS makes sure that the textile meets the required flammability rating. 

Factors to Consider

If the products are mixed, then countries of origin must be firmly established. The importer must show documentation for the following:

  • Fiber composition
  • Country of fiber’s origin
  • Where the textile was manufactured
  • End-use of the textile 

Customs Bond

A customs bond must cover all shipments. Commercial shipments with a value that exceeds $2,500 or contain goods that are subject to regulation by any partner government agencies must have customs bond coverage. The bonds can be either for single entry or continuous. 

Mistakes and the Results

If there are any mistakes in the process, then CBP or the other agencies will show concern over your import’s validity. Additional exams of the products will be taken, and further issues could arise. To be safe, you should always verify compliance of your shipment through a Licensed Customs Broker before starting the importation process. A Licensed Broker can quickly determine if your shipment will or will not clear customs. 

Textile Import Duty 

Import duty is a tax that must be paid on any imports coming into the country. The CBP is in charge of collecting the import duty. Some refer to it as a customs duty or an import tariff. It is a percentage paid based upon the determined value of the product instead of a flat fee. Many things can impact the import duty and alter it, such as the following:

  • Country of origin
  • Material type
  • Processing of the product
  • The unit value for each item 

Typically, import duty ranges from 0 to 20 percent. To find a complete list of import duty rates, visit the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.

Before importing textiles into the U.S., you must understand the duties that will be levied against your shipment. You can work with a Licensed Customs Broker before importing to verify the proper HTS Code and tariff classification ruling so that you can know the expected cost of the import duties.

Importing Textiles From China 

China is the leading exporter of textiles in the world. The country’s chemical fiber production topped 50 million tons, and its textile exports accounted for 37.6 percent of all global exports. 

Companies that decide to import textiles from China pay a low labor and production cost because of the significant labor population. The wages paid to Chinese workers are meager, so production is cheap compared to other companies. 

Even though labor and production might be more affordable with China, the cost of importing textiles into the U.S. is more costly because of the greater distance and longer wait times. 

In addition, unstable trade relations exist between the U.S. and China, which impacts trade. The recently imposed Section 301 tariffs created higher import duty, and shipments are now more scrutinized. 

Importation of Textiles From India

India is one of the three largest global exporters of textiles. The country’s affordable labor and production costs keep the prices low for U.S. businesses. However, the shipment times and costs involved are more and can often be more significant than in China. 

India is 12.5 hours ahead of the U.S. west coast and 9.5 hours ahead of the east coast, which often creates communication barriers between companies. 

Despite the drawbacks, the trade relations are stable. Many forecast that India’s imports will start to increase substantially. 

Importation of Textiles from Mexico

Mexico does not export the number of textiles compared to China and India, but they are growing. The proximity to the U.Sl also helps keep costs down. The cost of labor in Mexico is forecast to remain low. Also, companies can import specialized textiles such as seat covers, leathers, airbags, and more from Mexico, which is difficult or impossible from other countries. 

The trade relations between the U.S. and Mexico remain very stable and positive. In addition, many trade incentives exist. 

The shared time zones are another perk. Also, communication is good due to the Spanish/English bilingual individuals who work at the various companies. 

The proximity to Mexico reduces the cost of importation, and it takes far less time. Trucks are usually used to move goods instead of air and ocean freight. 

Check out the USMCA rules on Textile and Apparel Products to learn the rules and regulations that govern the importation of textile from Mexico. 

Challenges of Importing Textiles

As with any importation, those are challenges that companies must face. It is essential to know the proper classification of the textiles being imported. Hence, familiarity with the HTS codes is imperative to ensure that the products make it into the U.S.  

Trade relations with various countries are constantly changing, so it’s often difficult to foresee the future and the various challenges. 

Although there are many hurdles to jump to import textiles into the U.S. a skilled customs broker can help.

Customs brokers make the importation process simpler by handling the following: 

  • Ensure that all necessary documentation is included during importation, so the textiles are not turned away at the port of entry. 
  • Submit and keep copies of necessary files and documentation
  • Assist with supply chain services such as shipping, warehousing, order fulfillment, tariff classification, and trade consulting.
  • Process and ensure the correct HTS code is applied.

At Sobel Network Shipping Co., Inc., we have the experience and knowledge needed to import textiles into the U.S. easier. Our experts are familiar with all requirements needed to import textiles successfully. Please contact us to learn more.