In order to determine your US import duty rates, you will need to know about the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and the Customs and Border Protection Agency. In this blog post I will explain what they are, how to determine the tax rate for your garment, and introduce you to some very valuable resources in case you aren’t sure about your interpretation of the tax code.
Here is the link to the HS Code Online.
Harmonized Tariff Schedule
How do you classify your garment and figure out the duty rate (import tax?) First, you need to know about HS Codes. HS Codes come from the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. This system was created by the World Customs Organization (WCO) to categorize goods into approximately 5,000 commodity groups. This system is accepted and implemented by more than 200 countries worldwide.
This classification system is used to determine import taxes for goods imported into the USA. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule, first, classifies a garment based on its name, use, and/or the material used in its construction. Then, it assigns a ten-digit classification code-number to the garment. With that number you can look up the duty rate. The HS Code hierarchy for a garment looks like this:

Let’s walk through a simple example.

Let’s say you are making plain 100% t-shirts using knitted fabric. What is the US import duty rate?
1. Go to this website: 2016 HTSA Supplement Edition
2. Download the ‘Full Document’
3. Scroll down to Section XI
4. Find Chapter 61 and read the notes
5. Find SubHeading 6109.10.00

Here you will see that the general duty rate for t-shirts made with cotton is 16.5%.

Example of Looking Up Harmonized Tariff Schedule

Let’s walk through another example.

Let’s say you are making a woman’s dress shirt made with 100% polyester woven fabric. What is the US import duty rate?
1. Go to this website: 2016 HTSA Supplement Edition
2. Download the ‘Full Document’
3. Scroll down to Section XI
4. Find Chapter 6206
5. Find SubHeading 6206.40.30
Here you will see that the general duty rate for a woman’s shirt of man-made fibers is 26.9%.

Example of Polyester Blouse
You can download the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) from their website,, but be sure to use the actual HTS and not the data web version. Near the upper right hand corner of the ITC web page, there is a box with a blue label that says ‘Tariff Assistance’. In that box there is place that says “view” with “Current official HTS by chapter” as the first option listed. Click on that; then select the chapter you want from the table of contents. You can also get to the tariff by clicking on the ‘Tariff Affairs’ on the light blue band across the top of the page. General note 3, found at the beginning of the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS), explains the columns and abbreviations used throughout the tariff. The section notes at the beginning of Chapter 50 apply to all of the textile and apparel chapters in the HTS.
The International Trade Commission office edits and publishes the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS). You can contact Donnette Rimmer, Nomenclature Analyst for Textiles, Apparel and Footwear, if you have any detailed questions.

Overview of Section XI: Textiles and textile articles

Very quickly, scan over this list to get a feel for how garments are categorized in the harmonized tax schedule. The textile (fabric) and textile products (garments) section is a large one due to the variety of garment variables. This Wiki Pedia article explains the harmonized tax schedule in more detail.
50. Silk.
51. Wool, fine or coarse animal hair; horsehair yarn and woven fabric.
52. Cotton.
53. Other vegetable textile fibers; paper yarn and woven fabrics of paper yarn.
54. Man-made filaments.
55. Man-made staple fibers.
56. Wadding, felt and nonwovens; special yarns; twine, cordage, ropes and cables…
57. Carpets and other textile floor coverings.
58. Special woven fabrics; tufted textile fabrics; lace; tapestries; trimmings; embroidery.
59. Impregnated, coated, covered or laminated textile fabrics; textile suitable for industrial use.
60. Knitted or crocheted fabrics.
61. Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted.
62. Articles of apparel and clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted.
63. Other made up textile articles; sets; worn clothing and worn textile articles; rags.

Customs and Border Protection Agency

Remember that The International Trade Commission Office edits and publishes the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) government agency interprets and uses it to make the final judgment regarding your garment. The CBP determines classification, US import duty rates, valuation, and other aspects of importing goods into the United States. Why is this important to you? Someone in the CBP will make the final determination as to how your garment is classified. You will pay a customs broker to classify your garment for you, but in the end, if the CBP does not agree, then the CBP has the final say.
The best source of classification information is CBP’s published rulings module, available online at You will find it under the acronym CROSS in the TRADE section– it is a searchable database. Click on the acronym CROSS in the TRADE section, or search for CROSS on the CBP website search function, or search for “CROSS” via Google. The first page of the CROSS-system is a search menu; type in your product name. The search engine will bring up a list of relevant rulings, with brief summaries of each ruling. Look at the summaries to identify rulings for products most similar to yours. You should look at the full text of the rulings that seem most relevant– they’re not usually very long. For example, a search for ‘T-shirt’ brought up over 8,000 rulings. This is handy in case your garment classification is not crystal clear.
CBP also has a lot of general information available on importing into the United States on their website. There is also a list of ports of entry and contact information for how to obtain a ruling from CBP, either by email or snail mail. This link takes you to the template to request a ruling.

Additional Resources about US Import Duty Rates

1. This online learning website teaches you how to use the Harmonized Tariff Schedule
2. Ask an expert about your garment. The United States International Trade Commission has a help page where you can email or call to ask about classifying your garment. This is how I met Donnette Rimmer.
3. Rulings on Complicated Cases
4. HTS Search
5. Call for Help

In Conclusion:
Determining your import duty rate requires expertise and knowledge obtained from the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and Customs and Border Control Agency. Ultimately, your freight forwarding company will have a licensed customs broker on staff that will make the judgment for you. For the sake of doing the initial research on your own, you now have ample resources to get your feet wet when it comes to US Import Duty Rates.

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