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The 7 Details You Need to Know to Import Steel Into the U.S.

The 7 Details You Need to Know to Import Steel Into the U.S.
Steel is an essential item for American infrastructure. To meet the demand for steel, a large volume of steel is imported into the U.S. every day. Find out what's needed to import this vital good.
Jon-Michael Soracchi
July 28, 2021
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Whether it’s automobiles or new construction, just to name a couple of its uses, steel is a versatile, strong metal that is the backbone of many industries worldwide. The U.S. is no exception to this as it imports more steel than any other country in the world. If you’re looking to join the long list of companies that import steel into the U.S. there are some important details you need to be aware of. 

To import steel into the U.S. an import license needs to be obtained through the Steel Import Monitoring Analysis (SIMA) system. This license is required for every entry of steel products into the U.S. In addition to obtaining this license, importers need to be aware of antidumping duties and ensure their steel is classified with the correct HTS classification.

Our comprehensive guide below provides a complete breakdown of the requirements importers need to comply with to successfully bring steel into the U.S.

Avoid costly mistakes when importing steel into the U.S.

Get help from our steel importing experts

Why Does The U.S. Import Steel?

Why does the U.S. import steel?

While the overall amount of steel that the U.S. is importing is dropping 15 percent from 2018 to 2019, the fact remains that the country of over 330 million people is still the largest importer of the metal in the world. In fact, from 2009 to 2019, the import volume has still increased by 78 percent.

The reason the U.S. must import steel is simple: since reaching a peak of 141 million tons of steel produced in 1969, the country has steadily reduced the amount it makes domestically. To reflect that trend, small specialty and mini-mills have gradually replaced most of the large steel mills that powered the United States during its most productive stretches.

So while the need for steel hasn’t gone anywhere, America’s output has been reduced. Hence the need to import steel from outside sources.  

Where Does America Import Steel From?

Currently, the three places that the U.S. imports steel from are all in the western hemisphere and two of those places — Canada and Mexico — are the country’s direct neighbors. The third country, Brazil, is located in South America.

Just because Brazil is listed last, it doesn’t mean it is the least. It is the U.S.’s largest supplier of semi-finished steel and has actually seen an overall increase in the amount it sends to America in the past few years.

These are the three major sources of imported steel for the U.S. but far from the only places it looks to to fulfil its steel orders.

South Korea is a major supplier for flat and pipe/tube steel products while Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and Taiwan are other notable exporters to the U.S.   

Is There A Tariff On Steel?

Is There A Tariff On Steel?

Yes, in fact there is something called the Section 232 tariffs that give the President of the United States the power to set tariffs on foreign goods with the aim of protecting the financial interests of America on a temporary basis. But sometimes, temporary measures taken in this regard end up having long-lasting effects.

In regard to steel, this would be applicable for many of the imports coming from other countries. While America might not get much of its overall steel from China, for instance, there is currently a 25 percent tariff imposed on that product from almost any outside country, with just a few exceptions.  

Because of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and its predecessor NAFTA, imported steel from Canada or Mexico currently would have no additional tariff. This is because of the agreement between the three countries to not manipulate the prices of their steel to hurt each other competition-wise.

Also steel imports from Argentina and Australia are exempt from tariffs, but neither of these countries comprise a sizable amount of the product that the U.S. brings in.  

Clearing Steel Through U.S. Customs

Clearing Steel Through U.S. Customs

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must be satisfied in regard to nearly any commodity entering the country and steel is no different. The first thing to do toward this goal is being prepared for the Customs entry summary by acquiring an import license. As noted earlier, this import license is obtained through SIMA and must be completed for each individual entry of steel. 

Also, while it is not an explicit necessity, employing a licensed customs broker is highly recommended. The CBP doesn’t back any particular company to go with, should you choose to use a broker. So it will be up to you to do your due diligence in selecting the broker best suited to handle your steel imports.

You must have a license number to import steel, which is issued through the U.S. International Trade Administration (ITA). This number will be used by you as the importer of record, or shared with your broker so they can act for you.

Whether it is you or a hired customs broker, someone will have to be at the corresponding port of entry when the steel arrives via ocean liner. This is required to take possession of your goods once the CBP has cleared it. 

Avoid costly mistakes when importing steel into the U.S.

Get help from our steel importing experts

Be Aware of Anti-Dumping Laws 

One thing the U.S. government does not tolerate when allowing goods to be imported is what is known as dumping. Dumping is a country’s practice of lowering the price of its exported products to such a low level that other countries cannot hope to compete with it on the open market.

The way the United States and other countries with free market economies counter this practice is by imposing additional tariffs on these “dumped” goods to bring them more in line with what is considered to be fair market price. These extra duties are known as antidumping duties. 

This should not be mistaken as advice to buy expensive steel, but if you’re purchasing steel internationally, it’s important that you have an overall understanding of the prevailing market. This will prevent chasing an outlier that has a very cheap base price but will in turn have massive tariffs levied on it.

In fact, this aspect is so important to a business’s operations that when a company produces its import compliance manual, there is usually an entire section devoted to how to deal with anti-dumping. 

Don’t Forget the Importer Security Filing

The Importer Security Filing (also known as the “10+2”) is mandatory for any freight that arrives from outside of America via ocean freight. Failure to fully and accurately fill out this form can result in several unwanted consequences, ranging from delays to fines to even outright rejection of the steel you’re attempting to bring into the U.S.

The ISF can be filed electronically and must be done a minimum of 24 hours prior to the cargo departing its country of origin. The data points included should be:

  • Country of Origin
  • Importer of Record number
  • Buyer
  • Seller
  • Manufacturer or supplier
  • Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United states (HTSUS) number
  • Ship to party
  • Consignee number

The additional data points must be provided no later than 24 hours before arrival at a U.S. port and are: consolidator and container stuffing location.

You will not need an ISF for shipments that never touch the ocean from international waters. So if you’re having the steel shipped via rail or truck from Canada or Mexico, for instance, the ISF is not a requirement. 

Avoid costly mistakes when importing steel into the U.S.

Get help from our steel importing experts

Secure A Customs Bond To Import Steel

Secure A Customs Bond To Import Steel

All the steel being imported, especially of late, has a high value. Therefore, it will need to be accompanied by a customs bond. Briefly, the purpose of a customs bond is to ensure that in the event the importer of record is not able to pay its duties to the CBP, that the company that issues the customs bond will pay out those duties.

Think of it as an insurance policy the importer pays for to make sure the CBP gets its money should the importer be unable to pay. Speaking of which, there are two instances where a customs bond is lawfully required by the CBP:

  • When the shipment carries a value of $2,500 or greater
  • If a U.S. governmental body regulates the commodity being imported

In the case of steel, it’s extremely doubtful any importers would be bringing very small quantities into the U.S. because between tariffs and the costs associated with transportation, it would be very difficult to be profitable.

Also, since the steel industry is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a customs bond would also be needed. So either way you slice it, count on purchasing a customs bond to cover your steel shipment.

Steel imports need to be secured with a customs bond

Get your customs bond quickly and easily

Import Your Steel With USA Customs Clearance

Drilling down on the finer details on how to import steel is a great step in the right direction, but allowing USA Customs Clearance to help handle your imports will elevate your business to the next level. Your steel and nearly any other commodity can be imported by us, with additional assistance available in any facet of the import process.

USA Customs Clearance can secure the customs bond, either as a single-use or continuous issuance, to make sure your steel is covered to enter the country. Separately, our import customs brokers can be treated as workhorses in the sense of dealing with all the paperwork, setting up the acceptance of the imported steel and also making sure everything about the entire process goes off without a hitch.

At USA Customs Clearance, we also offer you the ability to have the undivided attention of one of our expert licensed customs brokers through our import consulting services. With 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to be walked through the process of importing or just to ask questions or for tips, you will have complete clarity following the session.

So now that you’ve learned how to import steel into the U.S., give USA Customs Clearance the opportunity to show you why partnering with them will be the best move you can make. Give us a call at (855) 912-0406 to learn more about how we can help you have success when importing steel into the U.S.

Avoid costly mistakes when importing steel into the U.S.

Get help from our steel importing experts
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