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Guide To Importing Light Fixtures

July 15, 2019
USA Customs Clearance
When importing light fixtures, there are some important details to keep in mind. First, if the value of your shipment is over $2,500, you’ll need a customs bond. You’ll also want to ensure that your fixtures are UL-listed. This confirms that your fixtures meet safety standards. There are cost-saving measures to explore when importing as well.

Importing light fixtures can be very difficult if you’re not familiar with the import process. There are many different types of light fixtures available on the market. Whether you are seeking decorative chandeliers or energy saving LED light bulbs this guide has you covered. 

When importing light fixtures, there are some important details to keep in mind. First, if the value of your shipment is over $2,500, you’ll need a customs bond. You’ll also want to ensure that your fixtures are UL-listed. This confirms that your fixtures meet safety standards. There are cost-saving measures to explore when importing as well.

Additionally, the demand for light fixtures will grow amid expansion in construction and the commercial market. Worldwide, the market is expected to grow by 4.0% annually. The industry is ripe for growth and you can be a part of it! 

How to Import Light Fixtures to the USA

Importing lighting and light fixtures is relatively easy. Unlike some products, you do not need any special licenses or permits. 

However, U.S. Customs does require a breakdown of materials that compose each light fixture. This must be done by weight for tariff classification purposes. For example, how much metal, how much glass, how much wood, etc. must be provided. You can provide this information on the invoice presented at entry or attached on a separate sheet that is provided by the supplier.  

Lighting and lighting fixtures fall under the jurisdiction of the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) which administers the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). Again, there are no special entry documentation or procedures as the CPSA does not have any regulations or prohibitions pertaining to lighting or light fixtures. 

UL Labeling Designation and Importance

While there are no specific regulations under the CPSC, there are certain classifications that assure consumers your light fixtures meet voluntary compliance standards and safety. 

When importing light fixtures it is important to note that your product has been UL listed. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, which is a testing facility for light fixtures and other electronic devices. Its purpose is to test and ensure the safety of electronic products. In fact, some electricians won’t install non-UL certified fixtures and you could potentially be fined if your product contains counterfeit UL certifications. 

Do your research and ensure that your supplier understands the standards required. It will pay off when your consumers feel more at ease buying your product. 

Additionally, beware of buying fixtures that do not have the UL label because you are responsible if the fixture malfunctions. For many manufacturers it is not illegal to put light fixtures on the market without a UL label, so be careful when importing them.

There are three UL labeling designations:

  1. Dry Location - applies to fixtures designed to be used indoors
  2. Damp Location - means the fixture can be used outside in an area protected from direct contact with water
  3. Wet Location - guarantees the fixture can be used where it comes in direct contact with water, including exterior locations, showers, saunas, etc

Remember, without a UL label you have no idea how dangerous a fixture may be. It could catch fire or electrocute someone. If the light fixture were to have a manufacturing defect you would be liable. 

Importing Different Types of Light FixturesImporting Different Types of Light Fixtures

There are many different types of light fixtures on the market. When importing light fixtures it pays to know who your consumers will be and what that market looks like. Additionally, there are different HS codes based on what type of light fixture you will be importing. These codes are product classification codes used by U.S. Customs and the WCO (World Customs Organization) to classify goods. Knowing the HS code allows you to know what tariffs you will be required to pay.  

Here is a list of the different types of light fixtures you can import:

  • Chandeliers and other electric ceiling or wall lights
  • Floor standing or table lamps 
  • Christmas tree lights 
  • Electric lamps and light fittings
  • Non-electric lamps and light fittings
  • Illuminated signs and nameplates
  • Lamps and light fittings made of glass
  • Lamps and light fittings made of plastics
  • Lamps and light fittings made of materials other than glass/plastics 

The HS codes for light fixtures are categorized in Chapter 94 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States. 

Products that Emit Radiation 

Certain electronics that emit radiation are subject to additional regulations and some light fixtures fall under this category. For example, high intensity mercury vapor lamps and sunlamps both require extra documentation. FDA form 2877 must be submitted to the U.S. Customs service when you import these products. This form identifies the electronic product being imported, its manufacturer, the importer, port of entry, and compliance status of the products. 

Make sure you know if the light fixtures you are importing require any extra documentation as it will save you trouble in the long run! 

How to Import LED Lights From China

China is the largest exporter of LED lights with Chinese manufacturers offering LED lights at a price at least 50% cheaper than your local markets. Moreover, the United States is the largest importer of lamps and lighting fixtures so it’s lucrative for you to know how to import from China. 

There are several steps you need to take in order to get the best deal and quality products from China.

M.A.P.S.

MAPS is an acronym for questions to ask yourself when importing light fixtures from China and any manufacturer for that matter.

Marketable

  • Will my light fixtures have sustainability in the future? 
  • How are my light fixtures unique in the market? 

Affordable

  • What is the cost of producing these light fixtures in China compared to the U.S.? 
  • Does the affordability of the Chinese price sacrifice quality? 

Profitable

  • What is the profit margin per unit?
  • Are these light fixtures worth investing in? 

Sellable

  • Will my import from China sell in the U.S.?
  • Who is my demographic?

Research 

It is extremely important to do your research when looking for suppliers in China. Engage with an LED manufacturer who is a global wholesaler. Being a registered brand in the United States or Canada will ensure that you are not dealing with a local company who may not be able to supply to your needs. 

Attend trade expos where you can find a large number of LED suppliers in one place. At trade expos you can check products and ask for prices while also inspecting the quality of the product. 

Order Samples

When importing LED lights you should ask your supplier to send you a sample before making your final purchase. Requesting samples of LED lights before making a final order to check for quality is a common practice in international trade. 

Final Order and Delivery

Once you have found your supplier place your final order and identify shipping terms that will be used. Request a quota sheet for your purchase that includes the Harmonized System Number, description and valuer-per-item. Ensure your supplier will agree to shipping under FOB terms as it will save you money on shipping costs. Finally, remember that shipping by ocean can be slow and that your final product will most likely be delivered to your warehouse or business by truck. 

Combat Tariffs on Importing Light Fixtures From ChinaCombat Tariffs on Importing Light Fixtures From China

China is not only one of the larger exporters of LED lights, but they are also one of the larger exporters of most lighting fixtures that American stores sell. When looking for a supplier for importing light fixtures your first choice will most likely be from China. Nevertheless, in doing so you may come to realize that there is an increase of tariffs on many products from China. Don’t let that dissuade you! This guide will tell you how to combat rising tariffs on importing light fixtures and help you make the best decision for your needs. 

Specifically, the United States government increased tariffs on 25% of goods from China in May of 2019, including light fixtures and fittings. The burden of this increase will most likely fall on your consumer as you raise prices to level out your profit. However, these three steps will help you combat tariffs when importing light fixtures.

  • Increase the quantity of light fixtures or fittings and request a discount on the order.

With the majority of suppliers you can place an order to a much larger quantity than usual and receive a 10% discount on the total when you have the goods delivered by partial shipment. A partial shipment is when your order is delivered in two or more shipments. Suppliers are open to doing this because they can also get cheaper prices from raw material manufacturers on large quantity orders. When importing light fixtures costs vary greatly based on differing quantities. 

  • Redesign the light fixtures to cut the cost. 

There are many components to light fixtures and one way to cut the cost is to change the structure of it. Another way is to use different materials or even create a new and innovative design. These methods can help bring the cost down, especially in the LED lighting industry. LED products have new designs and unique materials coming out every year. If you can open your mind and get a little creative you can get the same product at a lower price. 

  • Find alternatives

The final way to combat tariffs on importing light fixtures is to find alternatives. For example, the goal of an LED lamp is to emit light. There are many varieties of LED lights on the market and if the specific one you are trying to import is expensive, look for something else. An example of this is the LED troffer, which is a rectangular or square light fixture that is easy to use and popular. It is also expensive. A cheaper alternative to the LED troffer is the LED panel light. It has the same functionality at a cheaper price. Many light fixtures have alternatives and if you do the right research you’ll be sure to get the best deal.  

LTL versus FTL for Importing Light Fixtures

We mentioned earlier that the majority of your products will be delivered to your warehouse or business by truck. But how do you know which freight shipping option is the best for your needs? When it comes to truck delivery there are two options for your imported light fixtures. 

  • LTL (Less Than Truckload) - this is when the shipment of goods does not require the full space of a truck. 
  • FTL (Full Truckload) - this is when your product takes up the whole capacity of a truck. 

LTL combines the goods of multiple companies to fill a truck. This also means the costs are split by those companies. It is more economical to choose this option if you have a shipment of less than 15,000 pounds which will not fill a truck on its own. However, LTL is not as time sensitive as FTL because it has to stop at multiple carrier terminals. 

FTL is more useful when you have a large quantity that weighs more than 15,000 pounds. FTL is also more time sensitive and doesn’t involve as much handling of the goods. For this reason, FTL can be better for fragile items bought in bulk. 

When choosing the best freight shipping method for importing light fixtures make sure to take the weight of the product, cost, and time for delivery into account. 

What If My Light Fixtures Arrive DamagedWhat If My Light Fixtures Arrive Damaged?

No matter if you are importing LED lights or table lamps you want your product kept safe during delivery. But if it does arrive damaged what do you do? 

  • First, pay for your light fixtures. You will need documentation of the delivery for the claims process so don’t skip this vital step. You also need to make a note of the damage on the delivery receipt. 
  • Second, take photos of all the damaged goods. Preferably, before they are unloaded and as soon as you note any damage. These photos should be provided along with the required paperwork when submitting the claim. 
  • Third, file a claim with the carrier as quickly as possible. The timing matters. For most carriers, you have within 60 days of received shipment to submit a claim. With the claim you need to describe the damages and loss as well as how many items were damaged and the cost of the damaged goods. Don’t forget to include a copy of the bill of lading and invoice from the supplier.
  • Finally, until the claims process is complete do not get rid of any of the damaged goods. 

When Importing Light Fixtures is a Customs Bond Needed?

If you are importing light fixtures for commercial purposes you will most likely need a customs bond. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires you to have a custom bond when your imports are worth more than $2,500 or when they are subject to another federal agency’s regulations. 

If you are working with a Licensed Customs Broker they can help guide you through the process of purchasing a customs bond. They may also allow you to use their bond to secure your imports. 

Types Of Bonds

There are two types of bonds you can choose from when importing light fixtures. There is a significant difference between the bonds depending on how you plan to import your light fixtures. The difference is easily explained below.

Continuous Bond

If you plan on importing multiple shipments of light fixtures throughout the year, then this is the bond for you. When you purchase a Continuous Bond you pay for at least $50,000 in coverage. If you have more than one shipment during the year this is the most economical option. A Continuous Bond also covers Importer Security Filings (ISF) requirements. If you think this is the right option for your needs, you can purchase a bond online and clear customs with cargo through USA Customs Clearance. 

Single Entry Bond

If you only plan on importing light fixtures once per year, then this is the bond for you. A Single  Entry Customs Bond must equal the value of the goods, plus the fees, taxes and duties you might owe on them, at a minimum. Also, if your goods are subject to oversight by another federal agency the bond must be worth three times the value of the goods. The price of a Single Entry Custom Bond can vary by surety company and the value of the bond. 

Utilize a Customs Bond BrokerUtilize a Customs Bond Broker 

Of course, importing light fixtures can be a hassle if you are trying to do it all by yourself. Importing light fixtures is not nearly as hard as other products, such as auto parts. However, there are equally important factors such as safety and quality control that are part of the process of importing lighting and light fixtures. Utilizing a Licensed Customs Broker can help so you don’t have to muddle your way alone through it all. 

A Licensed Customs Broker can help you with the following: 

  • Make sure your shipment meets all the requirements set forth by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 
  • File any needed paperwork.
  • Help you obtain any necessary permits. 
  • Figure out the most efficient shipping and entry methods for your light fixtures. 
  • Ensure your light fixtures arrive in a timely manner. 

When importing light fixtures, from beautiful chandeliers to functional street lamps, USA Customs Clearance is ready to assist you. We’ll manage the import process for you to ensure your light fixtures pass through customs quickly and without issues. We can also teach you the ins and outs of importing other products, such as importing rice from India to the U.S.

When you’re ready, use the chat feature at the bottom of the page or give us a call at 855-912-0406.

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