Increased De Minimis to $800 for US tax & duty free imports

US Customs Border ProtectionA year ago the Low Value Shipment Regulatory Modernization Act of 2015 bill was put before the US congress. The aim was to amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to increase from the value of goods an individual could import by mail (effectively ecommerce) from $200 to $800.

Importantly as well as no duties or taxes to be collected, no formal customs procedures are required which means less paperwork for ecommerce merchants.

The rise to $800 has been approved and comes into force with immediate from the 10th March 2016. The bill’s intention is for that figure to be adjusted annually for inflation after 2016.

The duty-free exemption of $200 had not been updated since 1993. In 2012 exemption for travelers returning to the United States from abroad was raised from from $400 to $800, so the new allowance for items shipped to the US will now match the travel allowance.

David Jinks of ParcelHero who (tipped us off about the change) told us that the new higher limit covers most goods sold by the majority of the UK’s smaller internet retailers such as marketplace traders. The new threshold – around £560 at today’s exchange rate – means that your US customers won’t be presented with a duties charge before they receive their items. This should cut down on the “where’s my item” queries when an item is held in customs pending the customer payment.

We would expect that eBay will adjust their Global Shipping Charges to take into account the new $800 level. Whilst a UK retailer will see no difference in the money they receive, eBay will collect the relevant duties and tax at the time of purchase so there’ll be nothing to pay when the parcel arrives.

It would be great to see a marketing campaign informing US buyers that their purchases under $800 will be free of import duties. If you have a website which targets US buyers it will definitely be worth bringing the more generous limit to your US customers notice.