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Guide to import tea into the U.S.

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Tea demand in the USA is rising in recent years. The United States ranked top tea imported country of value $488.4 million in 2019. Global purchased of imported tea value at $5.7 billion. Tea importation is regulated by U.S. Customs and Border of Protection (CBP), and the FDA. There is no restriction on the importation but the proper filing of the documents to these governments is critical to import the goods into the U.S. We will guide you on how to clear tea into the U.S.

There is no import license required to import tea into the U.S. but the importation of tea into the U.S. of commerce requires importers to comply with FDA and CBP regulation.FDA foresees any food products including teas importing into the USA that meets FDA standards, such as prior FDA filing, proper labeling of detailed commodity, manufacture information, and Country of Origin.CBP foresees varies of things such as make sure goods are properly classified HTS code, for tea harmonized tariff schedule code (0902), all documents filed and collect a correct duty of the merchants. Failure to comply with FDA and CBP regulation may result in a fine or rejection of the shipment. We recommend consulting with a licensed customs broker to assist with your importation.

Requirements for importing tea into the U.S.

  1. FDA registration of food facilities – According to FDA regulation, all foreign food facilities are required to register their facility with FDA if they are importing foods and food products into the U.S.

  2. Prior notice filing – Prior notice filing assurance FDA to have enough time to prepare inspection upon cargo arrival if needed.

  3. Commercial invoice and packing list –Description of the commodities, quantities, and values.

  4. Bill of lading – Document that contains shipping detail of the goods

  5. Labeling – This should include country of origin, supplier or manufacture information, and also nutrition labeling.

  6. ISF filing – Shipments importing to the U.S. by sea will require ISF filing 24 hours before shipment departure from the last foreign port

  7. Certificate of Origin – This document can minimize MPF if the origin country has a trade agreement with the U.S.

Tea import for personal use

According to USDA, Travelers are permitted to bring without restriction any quantity of products composed solely often leaves (Camellia sinensis: includes black tea, green tea, oolong, dark tea, white tea, yellow tea). As with all agricultural products, you must declare the product at entry. Goods value over $2,500.00 will require filing formal entry with CBP at the time of entry.

Top Importer countries of tea in 2019

United States – $488.4 million

Russia - $425.7 million

United Kingdom – $356.5 million

Saudi Arabia - $236.6 million

Iran – $234.1 million

Top exporter countries of tea in 2019

China – $2.03 billion

Kenya - $1.11 billion

India – $813.75 million

Poland – $255.21 million

Germany – 250.12 million

Is there a tariff duty to import tea?

No, tea is duty-free. However, customs collect MPF and HMF.

MPF is 0.3464% x value of the goods (min: $27.23, Max:528.33) collected by CBP.

HMF is 0.125$ x value of the goods collected by CBP.

Need a hand?

We are a full-service customs brokerage firm that can help you clear your goods through customs faster and seamlessly.

Contact us below for free consultation: Fast Customs Clearance

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Charles Feng
Charles Feng
Mar 12, 2022

Hi, I'd like to buy teas from China online, like 30KG, can they ship tea directly to me, what do I need to do?

Charles Feng
Charles Feng
Mar 12, 2022
Replying to

it's for my personal use, not for business. 30KG is not a exact number, but just for example. it will like 5, 10 or bit more, maximum 30kg each time.

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