Importing Face Masks: Everything You Need to Know

Consulting with a licensed customs broker should be the first step in the process of importing face masks to the US. Get answers to your questions and ensure a streamlined importing process.


Laura Isaacs

April 3, 2020

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Today’s climate has lots of crucial goods in short supply. Importing face masks is one way to get these essential products into the United States, but it doesn’t come without challenges. From dealing with tariffs to medical device regulations to navigating customs clearance and documentation, you need a dedicated partner to get your face masks across the border and into the hands of those who need them. 

USA Customs Clearance, powered by AFC International, can provide individualized Import Consulting Services to make importing face masks easy. We can help you craft a customized blueprint to importing success, allowing you to focus on finding a supplier. Get the information you need to handle the logistics and leave the legwork to us. 

Importing face masks to the U.S. is more important than ever. Face masks are essential pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE). In today’s global climate, the demand for face masks is surging. Medical professionals, people working in essential businesses and every day consumers need PPE to stay healthy.

Tariffs on Importing Face Masks and N95 Respirators

Face masks and N95 respirators are indispensable products in today’s world. During a pandemic, these masks are used to protect people from virus particles. According to information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, surgical masks and products like N95 respirators are designed to provide a physical barrier to stop droplets, splashes and sprays containing germs from reaching the wearer’s mouth and nose. The protective devices are crucial for health care workers and immunocompromised individuals during pandemics.

Many face shields and respirators are imported to the U.S. from China. The administration of President Donald Trump changed the trade policies around importing goods from China in 2018. Tariffs on goods coming from China increased with the new rules and regulations. 

However, as of March 5, 2020, Chinese-made face masks became exempt from the usual tariff imposed on goods from China. India is also a major supplier of face masks and can be considered a source of this vital product.

Importing face masks is more important than ever, and thanks to the tariff exemption, easier than ever. The right import consulting partner can make getting your goods through customs and across the border a headache-free process.  We can help you determine N95 mask import duty and make sense of mask import regulations. Let us help you help your business and keep the supply chain strong.

Are you inerested in importing other essential supplies? Learn how to import isopropyl alcohol.

Get in demand PPE into the country with customs consulting for importing face masks.
We’ll provide information for importing N95, KN96 and KF95 masks and more.

FDA Rules on Imported Face Masks

FDA rules on imported face masks

Face masks are medical devices and are considered surgical and infection control devices. This means they fall into FDA Device Class 2 and are required to meet certain ASTM standards. They undergo a variety of test methods and must comply with fluid resistance and filtration efficiency rules. 

Recent changes in rules have loosened mask import regulations. In fact, any Chinese-approved face mask can be imported into the country. This includes KN95 face masks and more. However, this doesn't mean that you should drop your guard completely. The CBP is still on high alert and seizing products at the border that don't comply with import regulations.

When you’re sure your face masks meet FDA standards, you can begin the import process. Opting in for an import consulting session can make this process simple. From filing the right paperwork to obtaining the right customs bond, we can serve as your go-to mask importer and supply chain specialist.

What Are K95 Face Masks?

There are a variety of protective face masks on the market today. N95 masks and respirators might be the most common, but K95 face masks are common, too. N95 and K95 face masks are technically referred to as “filtering facepiece respirators.” We might know them as face masks. Regardless of what you call them, they are essential pieces of PPE required to keep people safe from germs, bacteria and viruses. 

K95 face masks are imported face masks. The K in K95 refers to the country of origin. When you are importing face masks, the country of origin is important. This will help determine tariffs, product safety and other important considerations required when importing PPE like face masks.

You can easily import K95 face masks when USA Customs Clearance, powered by AFC International is on your side. We know the laws and regulations around importing K95 face masks and can help you cut through all the red tape. Customs consulting services for importing face masks are an essential step in getting your goods across the border and into the U.S.

Need a customs bond when importing face masks?
The answer is YES. Get the bond you need easily and fill out an online application today.

N95 Face Masks vs KN95 Face Masks

There are a variety of protective face masks on the market today. N95 masks and respirators might be the most common, but K95 face masks are common, too.

What’s the difference between N95 and K95 face masks? In short, not much. Each mask’s code refers to its country of origin. Simply put, KN95 face masks refer to masks produced in China. KF95 refers to masks produced in Korea, while FFP2 masks come from Europe. 

N95, KN95, KF95 and FFP2 masks and respirators all meet the same standards. Each code of mask will block particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated the KN95, KF95 and FFP2 masks are suitable replacements for N95 

Importing N95, KN95, KF95 and FP2 face masks is smart for the supply chain. Customs consulting services can help you make sense around importing rules and regulations for each code of mask.

You’ll find there are a few slight differences in performance when thinking about N95 vs K95 face masks. It is important to know the difference when importing face masks.

Most significantly, the filter performance varies ever so slightly. The filter performance refers to the concentration of aerosols and droplets that can pass through the mask. N95 face masks filter out about 95% of particles. Chinese KN95 and Korean KF95 face masks on the other hand, filter out about 94% of particles. For most uses, the difference between N95 and K95 face masks is negligible.

Rules and regulations around importing KN95 and KF95 face masks recently changed. As of April 3, 2020, the FDA issued an emergency authorization for the approval and use of KN95 face masks. This opened the gates for importing KN95 face masks to help address the PPE shortage in the U.S. When coupled with tariff exemptions, this means importing KN95 face masks is a wise move for U.S. supply chains.

Whether you're importing n95 masks to the U.S. or you're bringing in a different type, we're here to help you.

Other Alternatives to N95 and K95 Face Masks

Though N95 and imported KN95 and KF95 face masks might be the most in-demand PPE on the market today, they aren’t the only masks they provide safety and protection.

According to the  CDC, there are a few other options that can be used for protection outside of a surgical setting. Any NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) approved mask can be used for protection against viruses. Alternatives to N95 and K95 masks include:

  • N99
  • N100
  • P95
  • P100
  • R95
  • R99
  • R100

Customs face mask consulting can help make importing easy. Let us show you how consulting with USA Customs Clearance, powered by AFC International, is an essential step in the import process. No matter what kind of mask you’re bringing over the border, we’re here to offer assistance as a strategic partner.

Importing Face Shields From China

Many businesses are opting for face shields instead of face masks. This is due to a number of factors including manufacturings and consumer demand. Most face shields that are imported are brought in from China and are subject to many of the same rules and regulations as face masks.

Before beginning the process of importing face shields from China, we recommend consulting with a Licensed Customs Broker. They'll be able to provide clarity on what to expect in terms of duties, import regulations, and more.

Why Use Consulting Services When Importing Face Masks?

The benefits of taking advantage of our import consulting services abound. USA Customs Clearance, powered by AFC International,  can walk you through the ins and outs of importing face masks. This makes getting these essential devices in the hands of medical professionals and consumers as soon as possible as easy as possible.

Because laws and regulations around importing KN95 face masks are constantly changing, you need a strategic importing partner who can walk you through the process. Our customs consulting for importing face masks offers an easy way to get answers and help you overcome any challenges.

One of the challenges that many importers run into is using the wrong HS code when importing their face masks. This can have a significant impact on the duties you pay when importing and more. Our experienced and knowledgeable Licensed Customs Brokers can assist you in properly classifying the hs code for your face masks.

You have options when it comes to choosing consulting services. We offer consulting sessions with both Import Experts and Licensed Customs Brokers. If you’re new to the importing game and have basic questiona, we recommend opting to consult with an Import Expert. If you’ve imported before but are new to medical devices and PPE and have more specific questions, consulting with a Licensed Customs Broker might be your best bet. We’ll scale a consulting solution to fit your individual business needs.

Regardless of which option you choose, you can count on us to provide you with the steps needed to get your face masks across the border and through customs. 

Get in demand PPE into the country with customs consulting for importing face masks.
We’ll provide information for importing N95, KN96 and KF95 masks and more.

Do I Need a Customs Bond to Import Face Masks?

Do I Need a Customs Bond to Ship Face Masks

A customs bond is an essential part of the import paperwork. In most cases, a bond is required when goods are valued at more than $2,500 or subject to regulations from another government agency. This means that in most cases, you’ll need a customs bond when importing face masks.

A customs bond is basically an insurance policy ensuring that all fees and duties are paid. It serves as an agreement between 3 distinct parties: The importer of record, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the surety company supplying the bond.

If you have more questions about customs bonds, you’ll get answers during your import consulting session. We’ll walk you through everything a bond covers and even help you obtain the proper bond needed when importing face masks.

What Other Documents Do I Need?

A customs bond isn’t the only documentation that needs to accompany your imported face masks. You’ll also need:

  1. Bill of Lading: A Bill of Lading is a receipt or list of goods required which each shipment.
  2. Packing List: A packing list displays details of the shipment with information like size, dimensions and weight.
  3. Commercial Invoice: The commercial invoice includes data like the purchase price, customs clearance number, detailed item descriptions and more.
  4. Arrival Notice: An arrival notice gives additional details about the arrival and customs clearance process.

With so many required documents and so much detailed information required for the import process, consulting with an experienced freight broker just makes sense. Allow USA Customs Clearance and our skilled and experienced experts to make importing face masks a hassle-free experience, even during times of crisis and uncertainty. We’re here to help to make the operation of getting goods across the border seamless.

Schedule an Expert for Customs Consulting

Face masks are needed more than ever in the United States. Instead of waiting for national manufacturers to catch up and start providing these necessary goods, rely on suppliers from other countries to keep essential items in stock and available to those who need them.

Schedule an expert for customs consulting today to get your face masks flowing from China, India or other foreign suppliers. In doing so, you’re keeping essential health care workers and individuals in need safe. USA Customs Clearance, powered by AFC International, is ready to be your mask importer and walk you through all of the required steps. Let us show you what it means to form a strategic partnership by relying on our expertise, experience and know-how.

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.
Get the details you need with our import consulting services.

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16 comments on “Importing Face Masks: Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Are Chinese produced 3-ply disposable masks, gloves, alcohol wipes and sanitizer exempt from US tariffs?

    1. Hi Tony,

      Some of the products you listed do have reduced or free-trade status currently. However, this will depend on the specific HTS code that's applied to your products. We strongly recommend consulting with one of our Licensed Customs Brokers to receive an official ruling on the HTS code of your goods. CBP has seized many PPE products at the border recently that aren't compliant with all of the necessary requirements.

      Schedule a customs consulting session with our Licensed Customs Brokers to get the help you need. We look forward to assisting you further!

  2. I am interesting in import Reusable face mask (decorate imitation jewelry or crystal) From Thailand to USA we can use HS code No. ? rate duty ?

    Please help support this .

    1. Hi Sang,

      There are a few different HS codes that your masks may fall into. Depending on which code applies to your product, this will also determine the duty rate. Our Licensed Customs Brokers can assist you with properly identifying the HS code and accompanying duty rate. We strongly recommend consulting with an expert before importing your masks as the CBP recently announced a massive seizure of PPE goods including masks.

      You can schedule a consulting session with our Licensed Customs Brokers to get the answers and support that you need. We look forward to assisting you.

  3. I am interesting in import KN95 face mask from China. I read in the news that the USA government make an exception in the duty. I would like to know if I have to pay any duty and the moment of clearance or if the duty is "0".

    I will appreciate your help.

    1. Hi Jose,

      The USTR has relaxed some tariffs related to importing critical medical supplies. However, there will still be a duty assessed on imports from China. The exact duty rate will be determined by the specific HTS code of the masks you're importing.

      Our team can assist you in identifying the exact duties and fees to expect for your shipment. Reach out to us at (855)912-0406 or schedule a customs consulting session with our Licensed Customs Brokers.

    1. Dr. Wu,

      Currently, there's no limit on the number of N95 masks that you can import. However, since N95 masks are classified as medical devices, you'll need to ensure that the masks meet FDA requirements. If you need help with your import shipments, we offer customs consulting with a Licensed Broker. We can answer all questions related to your shipments and go over required paperwork to ensure your shipments arrive without issue.

  4. Hi, I have a pending shipment about to be shipped from China. It is KN95 masks, I'm looking for a company to help clear and deliver the cargo to my place in Maryland. They are for my office use at my dental clinics in Maryland. Would you be able to quote me and provide me this service or partial service?

    1. Hi Bo,

      We can definitely take care of all of this for you! Please give us a call at (855)912-0406.

  5. Hi I am thinking to import 3 layer disposable mouth masks from China. I am not in this business but I am trying to help. I know the factory in China. But I don't know what documents, what procedures, what approval do I need to import mouth masks. My question is how much do you charge for this service?

    1. Hi Liana,

      The cost to actually import your masks will be based on the value of the goods, country of origin, mode of transportation, and more. If you have this information, we can provide you with a quick and easy customs brokerage quote.

      We also offer consulting services where our Licensed Customs Brokers review all of the details of your import and provide you with everything you'll need to safely and legally import your goods. You can use the link below to sign up for a consulting session. We look forward to helping you!

      Customs consulting services

  6. Hi there, we are a manufacturer in China and we are re-tooling our factory to produce masks. I would like information on importing to the US.

    1. Hi Martin,

      We'll be more than happy to help you with this! One of our customs experts will reach out to you shortly to provide you with the information you need.

    1. Hi Ruben.

      We can definitely help you with this. One of our customs experts will reach out to you shortly to take care of this for you. We look forward to helping you!

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