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Importing LED Lights from China: Duties, Regulations, and More

A spool of glowing green LED lights
When importing LED lights from China, you'll be required to pay different import duties and abide by more regulations than you would if importing non-LED lights. Learn more about how to make your LED imports a success.
By
Josh Kimble
February 7, 2022
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Last Modified: February 7, 2022

Whether you are an LED wholesaler or you run an eCommerce business specializing in lighting products, knowing how to import LED lights from China is critical. There are a variety of rules, regulations and import duty requirements that you need to know in order to make your venture a success. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal agencies regulate LED lights imported into the U.S. LED lights imported from China are subject to Section 301 tariffs and different import duty requirements than non-LED lights.

Our guide below details everything you need to know about how to import LED lights from China, including import duty, regulations, and more.

Sourcing LEDs in China

There’s a reason that many importers look to the Chinese LED market when needing to source their products.  

China is, by far, the largest exporter of LED lights into the United States, accounting for more than 50% of all U.S. LED imports in 2021. The next closest country was Mexico at just under 19%.

Top 5 Producers of U.S. LED Lights (HS Code 9405)

CountryPercentage of LED ImportsValue of LED Imports
China51.60%$5.27 Billion
Mexico18.65%$1.90 Billion
Cambodia6.25%$638.9 Million
Canada5.66%$578.5 Million
Vietnam3.79%$387.3 Million

Source: https://tpis2.trade.gov/TPIS_PUBLIC/tpis_ustopctys1.aspx

Due to the relatively cheap production prices and short lead times, China is the perfect fit for importers looking to purchase light fixtures.

Finding a Supplier

As the largest producer of LED lights in the world, it makes sense to turn to China when sourcing your LEDs.

That being said, with so many importers turning to Chinese producers, you're bound to find some suppliers with less than stellar products. It’s critical that you do your research to find a high-quality LED manufacturer that meets your needs.

First, you have to determine what type of LED lights you want to import. The three primary types of LED lights are: 

  • Dual In-Line Package (DIP) LEDs
  • Surface Mounted Diode (SMD) LEDs
  • Chip on Board (COB) LEDs

The different types of LEDs that exist are not always interchangeable and are intended for certain uses. Some are brighter, some have higher energy output, and some can only be used for specific types of LED products. Examples of different uses for LED lights include:

  • Standard LED Lightbulbs
  • LED Bay Lights
  • LED Strip Lights
  • LED Icicle lights
  • and more

Next, you’ll want to ensure that you pay a fair price for your lights. LED lights can be produced for far cheaper in China than they can in the United States. However, due to import duties and additional tariffs, it’s not always an inexpensive venture. 

Talk to different suppliers and shop around until you find a seller who is willing to work with you on price. In some cases, you may be able to bulk order and get a reduced price on larger orders. You can also attend trade shows and order samples to get a more intimate knowledge of the product you’re importing and the supplier you’re buying from.

Additionally, you’ll want to thoroughly research both your lights and the supplier producing them to ensure that they meet all standards set by the federal agencies overseeing the import of LEDs into the U.S. 

Need Help Importing LEDs from China?

Speak to one of our Licensed Customs Brokers and get 1-on-1 advice on how to successfully complete your imports

What’s the Import Duty on LED Lights from China?

Stacks of boxes in a container yard reading "Made in China"

Typically, the import duty for LED lights from China is between 2% and 8%, while some can be imported duty-free. This amount is before factoring in Section 301 duties.

LED lights primarily fall under HS codes 8539, 8541 and 9405. Using these codes as a starting point, you can use a lookup tool to do a search for the exact LED product you’re looking for and determine the import duty you will owe.

CBP recently made a change to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), separating lights and lamps by whether or not they are LEDs. The change was made in order to combat the misclassification of LED products that resulted from the 301 tariffs imposed on a variety of products from China.

Imports from China fall under the General category of duty rates. That means the U.S. has no active trade agreements with China.  

In addition to the general duty rate, the U.S. imposes additional tariffs on a wide variety of goods from China. These tariffs are referred to as Section 301 tariffs and they affect roughly $550 billion worth of goods - including LED lights.

The tariffs are broken up into four lists and the additional tariff rate imposed on a product depends on which list the commodity falls under. List 3 imposes an additional 25% tariff while List 4 imposes an additional 7.5% tariff. 

HTS classifications for a number of lights, including LEDs, can be found under each of the two lists. Due to the rule change, it’s more important than ever to make sure that you are using the correct tariff classification. The penalties for using the wrong HTS code can vary from fines to legal troubles. Using the help of a Licensed Customs Broker can help ensure that your information is accurate and products compliant.

Who Regulates LED Imports?

Two business men in hard hats stand in a warehouse as one gestures to the other

The Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) oversees and approves the import of all goods imported into the United States. They’re not the only federal agency with oversight, however. There are several other government bodies whose regulations you’ll be required to comply with when importing LED lights.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

In addition to the CBP, the FDA also regulates the entry of LED lights into the U.S. While you may not consider something like LEDs to fall under the control of the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA has oversight over a number of non-food-related products, such as:

  • Medical Devices
  • Drugs
  • Tobacco
  • Cosmetics

The FDA can place FD flags on certain HTS codes, identifying products that require further action when submitting an entry request. 

The FDA has an FD2 flag on LED lights. This means that when importing LEDs, you must provide the name of the original manufacturing plant and its physical address. This makes it all the more important to do your research and partner with a trusted supplier when sourcing your LEDs from China.

It’s worth noting, this flag does not apply to finished products with LED lights, such as toys, shoes, or appliances.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Due to the fact that LED Lights emit RF (radio frequency), some LED imports may be required to comply with regulations from the FCC.

There are two certifications that can apply directly to LED lights: FCC Part 15 and 18.

FCC Part 15 can be broken down into two parts. Part 15 A is approved for use in industrial settings and not intended for use at home or by the general public. And Part 15 B is approved for consumer and home use.

On the other hand, Part 18 is only intended for use in industrial, scientific, or medial (ISM) settings.

When importing LED Lights from China, it’s important that you determine the intended use of your products, whether it be for consumer use or not. From there, you can check to make sure that the lights you intend to import comply with the correct FCC certification. 

Other Regulations

While the FDA and FCC are two of the largest regulators of LED lights, there are some other rules and regulations that certain LED lights are required to abide by in order to be allowed entry into the U.S.

This includes regulations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The Consumer Products Safety Act regulates certain seasonal and decorative lights. Other regulations include the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). This sets mandatory requirements regarding energy efficiency and energy production for light fixtures.

Additionally, your products may be required to comply with standards set by Underwriter Laboratories (UL). You must also ensure your LEDs have the proper labels and comply with all state and local regulations.

Do I Need a License to Import LED Lights?

Front headlight of a car

There are no specific licenses or permits required to import LED lights into the United States. So long as you comply with the rules and regulations for lighting imports outlined above, you should not have any trouble importing.

What About a Customs Bond?

Customs Bonds are required on commercial imports over $2,500 or imports that are subject to another agency's regulations (other than the CBP). Due to the fact that LED lights are subject to the standards of the FDA, FCC and other agencies, you’ll be required to obtain a customs bond regardless of the total value.

When obtaining a custom bond, you can either purchase a single entry bond or a continuous customs bond. A single entry bond is good for one import transaction into the U.S. A continuous bond covers all imports during a 12-month period. We can help you secure a continuous bond and can even get it approved the same day.

How Can a Customs Broker Help You Import LEDs?

A person screws in an LED bulb

A customs broker can help with imports by ensuring that your shipment is legal and compliant with all Customs standards. 

As we’ve discussed above, there is a lot involved in the importation of LEDs. Ensuring that you’re using the correct HTS codes, complying with all regulations and understanding whether or not your LED import is subject to additional tariffs can be complicated. 

A Licensed Customs Broker can do the hard work for you, ensuring compliance, filing paperwork, and ensuring your shipment arrives successfully and in a timely manner. 

Import LED Lights with USA Customs Clearance

At USA Customs Clearance, we can help you import LED lights from China no matter your import needs. 

If you’re a new importer, we can help you become a registered imported, obtain a customs bond, or simply give you advice on your imports. We even offer bundles for new importers to help you get started with everything you need at a lower price.

If you’re unsure whether your imports comply with all required regulations or you’re having difficulty identifying your product’s HTS code, we can help with that too. Schedule a 1-on-1 consulting session with one of our licensed experts and get answers to any questions you may have.

Contact us at (855) 912-0406 or click on one of the links above to get the import help you need today.

Need Help Importing LEDs from China?

Speak to one of our Licensed Customs Brokers and get 1-on-1 advice on how to successfully complete your imports

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