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Smell Success Importing Incense Sticks

Smell Success Importing Incense Sticks
Incense sticks are primarily imported from China and India, and require special care due to their combustible nature. Learn more about importing incense sticks.
December 3, 2021
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Last Modified: January 16, 2024

Incense sticks have been widely used since ancient times, but only really became popular in the west over the last several decades. Uses for incense sticks around the globe include things like aromatherapy, religious applications, and cultural celebrations.

When importing incense sticks, businesses primarily turn to countries like China and India. Due to the fact that incense sticks are combustible, they must comply with regulations from the USDA and require special care to be imported. 

We realize importing is a fast-paced business, so if you need immediate assistance before reading the entire article, our team is just a phone call or email away. Consult with our Licensed Customs Brokers today to get definitive answers to a variety of importing questions. We’ll provide a step-by-step guide detailing exactly what needs to be done to maximize market potential and smell the success of importing incense sticks.

Need Help Importing Incense Sticks?

Our team of licensed professionals know exactly what’s needed to import incense sticks and are here to support you.

What Are Incense Sticks?

What Are Incense Sticks?

Incense sticks, as the name implies, are made up of organic material such as wood to be burned to release an infused fragrance. While incense can come in many different forms, we will focus on the most popular form, mass-produced and shipped around the world.

The trading of incense dates back centuries and was once a major economic sector. In some cultures, incense was a precious commodity and even presented as a gift. The Biblical account of the birth of Jesus highlights the presentation of Frankincense to the child by the Three Wise Men who traveled a great distance to mark the occasion. The incense used today makes an even longer journey to reach consumers here in the U.S. 

Some incense sticks contain a heat source that can be combustible. Types of incense sticks include:

  1. Direct-burning: Known as a combustible incense and must be lit by a flame. The initial heat source will cause the remaining incense to burn down to a smolder for continued release of the scent.
  2. Indirect-burning: Does not contain combustible material and needs another source of heat to burn. Frankincense is considered an indirect-burning incense.

While the material used to craft incense sticks depends on the location and cultural norms of the region they are created in, bamboo sticks, sandalwood and fragrant oils are popular materials used. Incense in some areas is still made by hand in a detailed process. Mass production of incense sticks, however, has made this process faster.

In what’s known as dipping with direct-burning incense, the core is then submerged or dipped into the fragrance or essential oil that will be released when burned. Whether consumers decide on a direct-burn or indirect-burn incense, the selection of aromas varies depending on preference.

What are Incense Sticks Used For?

As more consumers explore the benefits of incense and incorporate the practice into their everyday lives, the global market works to keep pace. Religious ceremonies make up a large sector of the market for incense sticks, as do celebrations and the marking of significant life events. While the intended use may dictate what incense brand you select, there are certainly plenty of incense varieties to choose from, covering a variety of categories.

Popular uses for incense sticks include:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Medicinal
  • Religious
  • Cultural
  • Sleep

What are Incense Sticks Called Around the World?

Names of incense sticks.

While incense didn’t gain popularity in the U.S. until the last two decades, it’s been a part of the fabric of daily life in countries like China, India and Vietnam for centuries – all of whom are some of the largest global exporters of incense sticks. And while most refer to these fragrant sticks as incense, there are many other names that they go by around the globe.

Other names for incense include:

  • Joss Sticks: The most populous nation on the planet, China refers to incense as joss sticks
  • Agarbatti: India, which is well-known for producing incense sticks, refers to the product as agarbatti. The U.S. is the largest global importer of agarbatti, spending in excess of $11.3 million annually
  • Ko: Japan uses the term to describe incense sticks typically made of either agarwood or sandalwood

The agarbatti industry in India is a well-positioned sector of the India GDP. As mentioned earlier, Frankincense dates back to Biblical days, and the term Ketoret, a Hebrew word, is used in Jewish customs. 

The burning of incense is also very popular in Vietnamese culture. Vietnam, which also uses the word “incense”, burns the commodity like other countries in Asia to celebrate the New Year, to signify milestones, and to burn in religious settings. It’s a part of everyday life to set the atmosphere in a home or make an offering at the altar.

Top Exporters of Incense Sticks to U.S.

CountriesValue of U.S. Imports
India$16.8 million
China$4.8 million
France$2.7 million
Vietnam$1.7 million
Japan$1.2 million


How to Ship Incense Sticks?

How to Ship Incense Sticks?

Incense sticks are meant to burn, and for that reason, they are classified as hazardous materials when shipped. There are a number of guidelines that international freight must meet before it can be imported. Incense is made out of plant material so the USDA regulates the importation of these goods.

In addition, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also has to sign off on freight coming into the U.S. A licensed customs broker can help you get all of the right documentation in place and make sure all the right agencies have approved the incoming shipment of your incense sticks. Depending on the point of origin for each batch of incense sticks, there are different rules pertaining to clearing customs at the port of entry.

Need Help Importing Incense Sticks?

Our team of licensed professionals know exactly what’s needed to import incense sticks and are here to support you.

Partner with a Customs Broker to Import Incense Sticks

Deciding to work with a customs broker means teaming up with an expert to get your freight delivered. Only a logistics expert can navigate the requirements necessary to ship a variety of commodities with ease, answer questions and provide competitive quotes in a seamless process.

Keeping up with all of the rules and regulations can seem overwhelming when your focus is to get freight shipped problem-free, especially when working with freight from foreign countries. There is a lot to understand and adhere to in order to keep your freight from getting stuck on a loading dock. Rely on the expertise of a licensed customs broker whose job it is to worry about these details.

The benefits of choosing a Licensed Customs Broker include:

  • Explaining the rules and regulations of the importing process as it relates to the country of origin. This is an important step and is extremely valuable for those unaware of the details of handling international goods
  • The customs broker is acting on behalf of the importer. So shippers are not alone but have a knowledgeable partner to lead the way
  • No worries when it comes to documentation. Customs brokers will make sure everything is in place, then double-check verifications so there are no surprises or delays from start to finish
  • Brokers are able to coordinate the full itinerary of services needed to import a shipment of candles from any global location.

Our goal is to make importing goods to the U.S. a seamless process from point of origin to port of entry and final delivery. In addition to the wealth of experience we bring to the table, our sister company R+L Global Logistics is able to meet the daily demands and keep the supply chain of importing incense sticks rotating with ease and precision.

Supply chain services include:

  • International & Domestic Transportation
  • Warehousing
  • Order Fulfillment
  • ISF Filing
  • Duty Drawback
  • White Glove Service

And the list of services continues. Schedule a consultation session to discuss how Licensed Customs Brokers successfully import incense sticks from around the globe.

Importing Incense Sticks with USA Customs Clearance

When it comes to shipping incense sticks, we provide shippers with flexible options to keep freight moving smoothly. The team at USA Customs Clearance, powered by AFC International, is ready to put their expertise to work and find the right import solution for you.

Any importing freight, especially from foreign manufacturers, can be challenging if you don’t understand certain aspects. This is where a licensed customs broker can act on your behalf and get everything done professionally and with expertise so you don’t lose time or money. Why not let an expert guide you through each step of the process, check off everything that needs to be done, identify the right documents, and get approvals lined up once the freight is ready to load.

Contact us today for one-on-one assistance from our team of experts to answer pertinent importing questions. We’re here to offer help and support during the importing process and keep shippers in the loop when it comes to importing incense sticks. Access the tools you need to navigate customs with ease. Call 855-912-0406 today to obtain a customs bond or schedule a consulting session for an upcoming import shipment. 

Need Help Importing Incense Sticks?

Our team of licensed professionals know exactly what’s needed to import incense sticks and are here to support you.

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One comment on “Smell Success Importing Incense Sticks”

  1. i am from
    hidaya expo
    i am manufacture wooden incense stand
    hidaya expo
    5-62 misran street saharanpur (up)
    my watsp 0091 9897645648

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