From controlling bacteria in pools to making drinking water more safe to consume, chlorine is used in a variety of different ways around the world. America is no different in this regard and the desire to import chlorine to the U.S. is high. Combined with the current and future expected chlorine shortage in the U.S., demand is expected to reach an all-time high. If you're looking to bring chlorine into the U.S. to satisfy some of this demand, there are some important details you need to be aware of.
To import chlorine into the U.S. importers need to comply with regulations contained within the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). These regulations are enforced by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In order to ensure compliance, many importers choose to work with a Licensed Customs Broker when importing chlorine to the U.S.
The complete guide below provides you with everything you need to know to safely import chlorine into the U.S.
Need immediate assistance? No problem. Our Licensed Customs Brokers are available to consult with you and answer all of your chlorine import questions.
Chlorine is used to produce many common products. Suffice to say, people everywhere either directly use or have a use for chlorine whether they think about it on a daily basis or not. However, chlorine is also considered to be a dangerous chemical because of its toxicity to humans and animals in high volume.
The EPA must regulate the way chlorine is imported into the U.S. in order to protect its citizens, and with good reason. In its most mild symptoms, the chemical is known to irritate the lungs, eyes and respiratory tract.
Long-term exposure, especially in gaseous form, can cause acute illness and even death. Chlorine can also burn skin, cause vomiting and fill lungs with enough fluid to be fatal. Therefore, there are regulations set forth by the EPA in order to protect anyone who could come into contact with it.
Chlorine is covered under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by the EPA. Section 13 of this act specifically covers items produced and then imported through customs. This part of the document requires chlorine to be in compliance with any statutes before you even begin the actual process of importation.
The EPA requires that either a negative or positive certification be provided for all toxic substances that are to be imported. In the case of chlorine, a positive certification is used because it is regulated by the TSCA. This certification can be submitted either electronically or in writing, stating the following:
“I certify that all chemical substances in this shipment comply with all applicable rules or orders under TSCA and that I am not offering a chemical substance for entry in violation of TSCA or any applicable rule or order thereunder.”
Once signed and submitted, this is a binding agreement between yourself and the U.S. Government that you understand their expectations and are committed to carrying it out in good faith.
While we’ve covered the exact requirements regarding the importing of a chemical, there are also more general aspects worth going over that cover any attempt at bringing goods into the U.S. Chlorine also falls under these as well.
First and foremost, you will need a customs bond to cover the tariffs you’d be found to owe on your shipment. As a product that is under the regulation of a U.S. regulatory body, your chlorine — regardless of the shipment’s monetary value — automatically must have a customs bond. So you understand exactly what this is, think of it as a required insurance policy. In this case, the importer purchases the customs bond to insure that the CBP is able to collect the duties due to it under a scenario where the importer is for any reason unable to pay them.
A third party, such as a licensed customs broker, can sell this bond to the importer and the bond can be bought either as a one-time use to cover a single shipment, or as a continuous use bond that will cover an unlimited amount of shipments over the course of 12 months from the time the bond was originally issued.
Another piece of documentation any import needs is the commercial invoice. This paperwork clearly states a lot of pertinent information such as:
Both the customs bond and commercial invoice are items that a licensed customs broker can help you handle. They have extensive experience in this type of paperwork and the ins and outs of the physical moving of shipments around the world.
It’s been established that chlorine needs to be compliant with the terms of the TSCA, but there’s a subset of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that also has its own stipulations. The DOT classifies chlorine under Class 5 of hazardous materials (HAZMAT). Since it is HAZMAT, it must be accompanied by a yellow, diamond-shaped logo with a picture of a fire and the number 5.1 at the bottom. This is to denote that the chlorine can spontaneously combust and that it is an oxidizing substance.
With that established, there is still some differentiation on labeling depending on if it’s going directly to be sold or if it’s headed to another location in order to still be labeled. Basically, when a chlorine product hits store shelves or is shipped directly to a customer, it has to already have the needed customer labeling on it.
If the product is going to a warehouse or another facility because it’s not ready to be sold, it is not mandatory that the consumer labeling is already in place. However, a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) should be included for the benefit of those handling or storing such items. The sheet was created by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The MSDS exists to lay out:
In addition to providing the MSDS, the chlorine must still be appropriately labeled as a chemical substance during shipping.
One of the most important challenges that face the importation of chlorine is proving to the CBP that the chlorine (or any chemicals) in question adheres to the guidelines set forth under the TSCA. However, in the same vein, the EPA actually provides a document — the Section 13 Import Compliance Checklist — that is a great resource to determine if your chlorine meets the standards for importation.
The other side of the list of challenges really stem from making sure you and your chosen logistics partner follow the instructions for safe transport and storage. Depending on the environment it’s shipped through or even the way it’s packaged and loaded for delivery, it can turn the chemical more dangerous. Wearing protective equipment is advised since you don’t want chlorine to touch your skin or to be inhaled.
Also, as mentioned in the previous section, chlorine is considered to be a Class 5 HAZMAT product, which means that they can combust. Therefore, you will actually need a shipper who is certified to work with HAZMAT. Also, when traveling on U.S. roads, the goods must be clearly marked with the correct placard so anyone who comes in contact with the chlorine knows to practice safety.
When calculating the import duty for chlorine, it all depends on the country of origin. The good news first — from nearly every country in the world, an import duty will not be levied on your chlorine.
The only caveat to that among the world’s countries is China. While an actual import duty is not levied, any product coming from the Asian giant will be subjected to Section 301 duties. These are tariffs levied against China by the U.S. in relation to years of unfair trade practices the Far East country had been found to have committed.
While it is possible to be refunded for Section 301 duties paid in some cases, it’s still an additional upfront investment to consider when choosing to purchase your supply from China. That’s not advice not to do it, just a fact of what you’ll encounter when importing from China.
The one key element all of this import talk has in common is it can be made much easier with the help of a licensed customs broker. A customs broker can calculate any import duties that would be owed ahead of time so you don’t receive an unpleasant surprise when the shipment makes it into the United States.
There are several different ways to transport products, which includes chlorine, but for international shipments into the U.S., only two really stand out. If the shipment in question were coming from Canada or Mexico, which are both chlorine producers, the easiest way would be via truck. Employing an 18-wheeler to haul this product that needs special care can be a sound investment. You’ll receive a driver trained in how to handle hazardous materials, get the entire truck to yourself for just your load and also receive true door-to-door service, the last part being something a train or ocean freighter can’t match.
The other reasonable method of transport for your chlorine products is to use an ocean liner, especially if the shipment originates from overseas. This will be extremely cost-efficient in comparison to other modes of transport and you have the potential to ship multiple full containers on the same ocean freighter. Really the only possible drawback to using this method is the time it takes. At a minimum, it will take several weeks for your chlorine to arrive. This issue can be mitigated with proper planning though.
Ocean shipping does carry with it one additional necessity: the Importer Security Filing (ISF). This system was enacted by the CBP in order to combat the problem of smuggling. The ISF absolutely has to be filed with the CBP no later than 24 hours before cargo is loaded onto a ship traveling to the U.S. The implications for not meeting this requirement include additional inspections, fines and even delayed cargo. There are 10 specific data elements required.
Importing chlorine on your own can be a risky venture with a high probability for mistakes to occur. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to work with an experienced and knowledge Licensed Customs Broker like USA Customs Clearance. Our team of Licensed Brokers and customs experts know exactly what’s needed to safely and legally import chlorine to the U.S.
With the increased demand for this scarce product, CBP will be on high alert for businesses looking to cut corners when importing chlorine. Thankfully, you can lean on our experienced and attentive team to ensure your chlorine import arrives without issue.
Even better, we offer services beyond just importing your goods. Thanks to our partnership with our sister company, R+L Global Logistics, we can handle your entire supply chain.
We can also help you with:
When you’re ready to get moving, schedule a consulting session with our Licensed Customs Brokers. They’ll go step-by-step through everything you’ll need to import chlorine to the U.S.