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Import Costs From France: Understanding Tariff Codes

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Confused about import costs from France to the USA? Get accurate, authoritative advice on calculating duties and other related cost to breeze through U.S. customs and stay within your budget.
November 9, 2023
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Last Modified: November 10, 2023

Import costs from France are a crucial aspect of doing business for U.S. importers. While French goods are highly sought after, accurately calculating expenses such as duties, tariffs, and shipping fees is no easy task. Mistakes in the calculation process can lead to costly fines and penalties from U.S. trade authorities.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) emphasizes the importance of understanding import costs when bringing goods from France. These costs include duties, tariffs, and shipping fees. It’s vital for importers to accurately calculate these expenses to ensure smooth and compliant transactions.

If you’re looking for help understanding the many fees associated with importing goods from France, we’re here to help. 

Import Costs From France to the USA: Basics and Fundamentals

One source of import costs from France is ocean freight charges, which are incurred by freight ships such as the one pictured here.

When determining the cost of importing a shipment of goods from France to the United States, there are two main types of fees to keep in mind.

  • Shipping Costs: These include costs such as international freight charges, domestic shipping once the goods arrive, and final mile delivery fees.
  • Customs Charges: Imported goods are often subject to duties, tariffs, and other charges, which are assessed by CBP.

Let’s explore these two categories in greater detail, starting with customs charges.

Do You Have to Pay Import Tax From France to USA?

Yes, importers will be responsible for any import fees assessed by CBP on goods imported from France. On most consumer goods, you’ll incur duties of approximately five to seven percent of the shipment’s value. 

In the United States, duties and tariffs are assigned using a system called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS). All commodities are assigned a 10-digit HTS code. This code is used by CBP to identify commodities and determine the rate of duty and tariff payment.

Depending on the goods in question, you might get lucky and not have to pay any duties at all. This usually happens if the U.S. has some kind of free trade agreement with the country in question.

Are There Free Trade Agreements From Between the U.S. and France?

Boxes labeled "Made in France" on a conveyor belt in a warehouse.

Despite the mostly harmonious economic relationship between the United States and the European Union (EU), no such agreement exists between the two powers. As such, you can expect to pay duties and other import costs from EU, including France.

Import Duties and Tariffs From France to the USA: Their Purpose in International Trade

Import duties and tariffs are more than a source of revenue for governments. These customs duties and taxes serve a number of strategic purposes.

Some of the most common reasons a country imposes duties include:

  • Protecting Domestic Industries: Duties can protect local businesses from being overshadowed by cheaper imports. By making foreign products more expensive, domestic industries can compete more fairly.
  • Political Leverage: Tariffs are sometimes used by politicians as a negotiation tactic in international relations. Countries might impose or threaten tariffs as leverage in negotiations or in response to another country’s actions.
  • Protection of Consumers: Tariffs might be used to prevent the import of products that don’t meet local standards or could be harmful to consumers.
  • Dumping: This occurs when a foreign supplier sells products in the U.S. market at a lower price than they do in their home market.
  • Countering Government Subsidies: Sometimes, governments will subsidize the production of certain goods, leading to lower prices on those goods. This can create unfair competition with U.S. domestic suppliers of those same goods.

The last two reasons can result in the U.S. government imposing specific customs costs. These are referred to as anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duties.

Does France Have Active Countervailing or Anti-Dumping Duties (AD/CVD)?

According to federalregister.gov, there are two active AD/CVD duties on goods from France as of the time of this writing. One is on the amino acid methionine, the other is on the chemical compound strontium chromate. 

Keep in mind that these duties are imposed by the U.S. government based on international and domestic trade analysis. New AD/CVD orders may be issued at any time.

What are the Duty-Free Rules From France?

A long-distance view of a lighthouse.

There are no duty-free rules from France that apply to importers bringing goods in for resale. Unless the product in question just happens to have a zero duty rate, you’ll have to pay customs charges on your shipment.

There are duty-free exemptions for merchandise intended for personal use. Usually the value limit is $800 USD. Several exceptions apply based on what products are being brought back, particularly on tobacco and alcohol. 

France to USA Shipping Costs

For importers bringing in goods from France, there are two options for shipping: ocean freight and air freight. Of the two, ocean freight is far more affordable, but obviously slower. Air freight is more costly, but cargo can arrive within one to three days, compared to weeks via ocean.

Transportation costs fluctuate based on a number of factors. If you need a quote for a large shipment of goods from France, we suggest you give us a call at (855) 912-0406. USA Customs Clearance is powered by R&L Global Logistics, and we offer shipping services in all aspects of logistics, from international freight to final mile delivery.

The EU-US Trade and Technology Council’s Influence

Since France is part of the EU, The EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) has great influence over the US/France trade relationship. 

Established to foster closer ties and address shared challenges, the TTC oversees the following initiatives.

  • Simplify Regulatory Processes: The TTC works on harmonizing standards, which can simplify and speed up the import process for certain goods.
  • Break Down Digital Trade Barriers: By focusing on digital trade issues, the TTC transatlantic council ensures that tech products and digital services flow smoothly between the EU and the US.
  • Boosts Collaboration: By fostering cooperation between countries in the technology sector, the TTC can lead to increased imports of cutting-edge products and technologies.
  • Dispute Resolution: The TTC establishes procedures for addressing trade disagreements, minimizing disruptions in imports.

Through these actions and more, the TTC works to create an environment where trade between the EU and the US is efficient, fair, and mutually beneficial.

Top French Exports to the USA

A mechanic inspecting the engine of a small aircraft.

You might assume that France’s most popular exports to the USA would be commodities like wine and designer clothing. These goods actually play second fiddle to specific types of heavy machinery and medicines. 

When you’re buying goods from France for resale in the states, knowing what the largest French exports are can help you tailor your business plan with a strategic mindset.

Which Products Does the US Import from France?

Whether you’re new to importing from France for the first time or a seasoned importer, it’s worth reviewing major French exports from time to time. Doing so provides insights into domestic availability, customer demands, and buying habits.

In this table, we’ve listed some top imports from France to the USA for July 2023.

Biggest French Exports to the USA

CommodityValue in USD
Gas Turbines$355M
Planes, Aircraft, and Spacecraft$268M
Hard Liquor$221M
Paintings$190M

Source: oec.world

Historically, France has also exported the following items to the U.S. in large quantities.

  • Packaged medicines
  • Aircraft parts
  • Perfumes
  • Trunks and cases
  • Wine
  • Jewelry

From machinery to Malbecs, France has much to offer U.S. importers. However, before bringing these products into the states, importers need to know if any tariffs are in place and how to calculate duties on goods from France.

Explaining French Import Tariffs to US

An overhead view of a port with hundreds of shipping containers lined up.

Earlier, we laid out the existing AD/CVD order on some very specific goods from France. While these fees are referred to as duties, they function almost like a tariff in practice. 

The main difference between a duty and a tariff can be explained as follows.

  • Duties are determined based on years of trade information and cannot be changed without rigorous review.
  • Tariffs can be enacted in a fairly short amount of time. In the U.S., the government can enact new tariffs as a reactionary measure for political and economic reasons.

As of this writing, the most significant tariff on goods from the EU (and France by extension) is assessed on steel and aluminum. A tariff rate quote (TRQ) system is in place for these goods. It goes into effect once a threshold of 3.3 million metric tons of steel and 384,000 tons of aluminum have been exported to the USA from the EU within a two-year period.

In summary, if you’re not importing steel or aluminum, you will most likely just have to pay standard duties from France to U.S. However, that can change quickly due to the nature of tariffs. For this reason, it’s wise to check the CBP website on occasion to make sure the goods you import haven’t been hit with a tariff.

Calculating Import Duties From France to USA

The process of calculating import tax from France isn’t as cut and dry as you might assume. For those attempting to make the calculation themselves, following these steps will give you the best chance at an accurate calculation.

  • Find Your Harmonized Systems (HS) Code: Harmonized System codes are used by nearly every country in the world to identify commodities. These six-digit codes are created by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and can be found on the WCO website.
  • Search for the HTS Code: Use the HS code to find your HTS code. You can use our own HTS lookup tool, or the tool found on the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (USITC) website. 
  • Check the Duty Rate: Once you have the correct HTS code, you can find the associated duty rate. This percentage rate is applied to the value of the goods to determine the duty owed.
  • Apply Other Fees or Reductions: Consider other factors, such as trade agreements or tariffs, that might increase or decrease import duty from France.
  • Calculate the Total Duty: Multiply the value of your imported goods by the duty rate. Add any additional fees or subtract any reductions to determine how much you owe for your shipment.

Keep in mind that HTS codes can become confusing quickly. This is largely due to the very minor differences between similar commodities. 

Given how quickly fees can add up, importers often look for ways to reduce import costs and increase profits. There are some strategies that can assist with this endeavor.

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How to Minimize Import Fees From France

Importers who want to reduce their import duty from France to U.S. should keep a few things in mind.

  • Duties and tariffs are set by the USITC and are consistent for all importers. They only vary depending on commodity type and country of origin.
  • Misclassification of commodities resulting in lower duty fees will likely incur fines and other penalties from CBP.
  • It doesn’t matter if the misclassification was deliberate or an honest mistake.

What does this mean for minimizing import fees? It means the focus should be on avoiding fines rather than reducing duties. Mistakes on an importer’s customs declaration can end up costing thousands of dollars.

The best way to avoid these fines is to partner with a CBP-licensed customs broker. A broker’s expertise will go a long way toward finding the correct custom clearance charges for import shipments from France.

Partnering with USA Customs Clearance for Import Services

While importing is a lucrative venture, the cost of doing business isn’t always completely clear. Between duties, tariffs, and the potential for fines, working with a customs broker can save you plenty of money and stress in the long run.

The licensed brokers at USA Customs Clearance have over 100 years of combined experience helping importers bring goods into the U.S. We bring this experience to bear with our wide range of services, including:

Call us today at (855) 912-0406 or contact our team online. No matter what you’re importing or where you’re importing from, we take the guesswork and uncertainty out of this often confusing process.

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