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Importing Paint Into the US: What You Need to Know

Importing Paint Into the US What You Need to Know
Importing paint into the U.S. comes with some unique requirements. Learn what's needed so you can get the job done.
USA Customs Clearance
September 9, 2020
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Last Modified: June 16, 2022

Importing paint into the U.S. is a wise business decision under the right circumstances. Whether you’re planning to resell for profit or use the paint for your own business, this can be the right move for you. With that being said, importing any product into the U.S. requires strict adherence to a number of rules and regulations. Paint has some additional hoops to jump through as well.

Importers must adhere to TSCA requirements when importing paint into the U.S. This includes applying for and providing proof of positive certification at the time of import. Standard import regulations including required CBP documentation also apply to paint imports.

Before importing paint into the U.S., it’s wise to consult with a Licensed Customs Broker. When you consult with our team at USA Customs Clearance, we’ll go over all of the requirements for your paint import. We’ll also answer any questions you have to ensure that your shipment safely clears customs.

Importing paint can be a confusing and challenging task

Get definitive answers to all of your paint importing questions

For more information on how to import paint, read through our comprehensive guide below.

Regulations For Importing Paint

As discussed, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA) requires that importers of paint apply for positive certification. This is due to the fact that paint is considered a chemical mixture according to the TSCA

In short, the positive certifications confirms that imported paint complies with section 5, section 6, and section 7 of the TSCA. Section 6 of the TSCA, for instance, relates to import requirements for specific chemicals. 

Additionally, regulations relating to the amount of lead in paint also come into play. While lead-based paint was banned by the federal government in 1978, some paint still contains trace amounts of lead. Officially, the amount of lead in paint cannot exceed 0.009% of the total content. These rules also apply to products where paint has been used or any other product that contains more than 0.009% lead by weight. 

In general, importers of “general use products” (including paint) must apply for a General Certificate of Conformity (GCC). They must also support their GCC applications with tests of each product they import or a reasonable testing program. 

Once importers have a GCC, federal law requires them to make it available at the time of import. The GCC must also be provided to any individuals or business that will use or sell the product. If furnishing your import paperwork electronically, you can make this available at the same time. 

Import Duty on Paint

Import Duty on Paint

The specific import duty applied to imported paint depends on the base of the paint (acrylic, polyester, etc.), whether it’s a water or non-water based solvent, and its provenance. Typically duties range between 3 and 6% but can be higher. Imports of paint from China can have higher import duties. Duty fees can be offset by importing from a country with a current free trade agreement.  

Here are some of the current tariffs for paints based on synthetic polymers dispersed in a nonaqueous medium: 

  • Paints based on polymers currently carry a 3.7% rate of duty
  • Paints based on acrylic or vinyl polymers carry a 3.6% rate of duty
  • Other non aqueous paints carry a 3.2% rate of duty

The following are tariff rates for paints and varnishes (including enamels, distempers, and lacquers) that use synthetic polymers dissolved in an aqueous medium: 

  • Paints based on acrylic or vinyl polymers carry a 5.1% rate of duty
  • Other paints in this class carry a 5.9% rate of duty

Additional classifications for paints and varnishes for finishing leather or metallic powders for industrial processes each carry their own rates of duty. 

One of the biggest challenges in importing paint is ensuring that it is classified with the correct HTS code. Thankfully, this is also one of the key benefits that can be gained from consulting with our U.S. Customs Brokers. During your consulting session, our brokers will classify your paint with the proper tariff classification code. This in turn provides you with the specific import duty that you’ll be responsible for when your shipment arrives. 

Schedule your consulting session today to get peace of mind and clarity before importing your paint. 

Importing paint can be a confusing and challenging task

Get definitive answers to all of your paint importing questions

Is There a Paint Shortage in 2021?

Like many other products, paint is experiencing a shortage in 2021. This shortage comes as a result of a number of factors including severe workforce shortages, lasting effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, and more. While the shortage is expected to improve through the remainder of 2021, supply and demand aren’t likely to match up before the end of the year. 

Why is There a Paint Shortage in 2021?

Similar to many other products experiencing a shortage in 2021, paint has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.

A chain reaction occurred for the paint production industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Many production plants shut down which immediately halted manufacturing
  2. A large number of manufacturers laid off workers due to uncertainty surrounding when normal operations would resume
  3. Production facilities gradually reopened, but had difficulty hiring for empty positions
  4. Demand for paint increased creating a greater gap between supply and demand

Even as conditions of the pandemic improved, the effects of the shutdown and associated labor shortage continued. 

Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptive weather also played a significant role in the paint shortage. In 2020, multiple hurricanes made landfall in the gulf coast, 3 of which happened to be category 3 strength or higher. With some of these storms hitting close to major manufacturing hubs like Houston and busy ports like Port Arthur and the Port of Galveston, the paint supply chain took a major hit. 

Worse yet, Texas was further hampered by a massive winter storm in mid-February of 2021. The storm was far-reaching in its impact, leading to millions of homes and businesses being left without power. While Texas was the main area hit by the storm (unofficially referred to as Winter Storm Uri), other areas of the U.S. including many states in the gulf coast and northeast were also affected.

Complicating the issue even further is the fact that there’s a shipping container shortage. Because various regions of the world shut down and reopened at different times, an imbalance of shipping containers occurred. To learn more about this specific issue, check out our article on the Shipping Container Shortage.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, harsh, impactful weather events, and logistics challenges like the shipping container shortage, paint production stalled significantly. At the same time, a backlog of projects requiring paint led to an unusually high level of demand. These factors all combined to cause the paint shortage. 

When Will The Paint Shortage End?

Unfortunately, the timeline of when the paint shortage will end is unclear. Unemployment rates -  a strong indicator of the economy as a whole - still haven’t caught up to pre-pandemic levels. Project backlogs, including many related to major infrastructure, are also still waiting to be completed. While both of these conditions are improving everyday, it’s not impossible for unexpected events to occur to stall the progress. More major storms and a regression in the pandemic outlook can quickly derail the improvements made related to the paint shortage. 

If you’re affected by the paint shortage and looking for ways to overcome it, our team is here to help. We’ll make sure that transportation and logistics aren’t going to be factors keeping you from getting the paint you need for your business or key partners. In addition to helping you import paint into the U.S. we also have resources to manage the full transportation journey. Our supply chain specialists and capacity procurement team ensure that your paint will be transported as efficiently as possible. 

Importing paint can be a confusing and challenging task

Get definitive answers to all of your paint importing questions

Do I Need a Customs Bond to Import Paint?

A customs bond is a three-way contract between an importer, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and a surety company. The purpose of the bond is to ensure that the importer pays all duties and fees associated with importing a product into the US. 

If the paint is intended for resale and the value is over $2,500, a customs bond will be required. The document ensures that you pay all fees, duties, and taxes you owe to the CBP. 

USA Customs Clearance offers continuous customs bonds for only $275. A continuous bond is a cost-effective product that is ideal for importers who import paint regularly through different entry ports. 

Sometimes, authorities may deem a customs bond insufficient if you (the importer) must pay more imported paint duties than the current bond can cover. 

Usually, officials calculate the value of a customs bond at 10 percent of the total cost of import taxes, duties, and fees. If the bond doesn’t cover this amount, it is insufficient, and you can no longer use it to gain entry for paint imports into the US. 

Authorities may also cite the following additional reasons for insufficient customs bonds:

  • Failing to adhere to a formal demand to increase the bond value by the deadline imposed by the CBP
  • Failing to provide the correct paperwork
  • Failing to provide a valid importer of record number
  • Failing to comply with a rejection of a termination request
  • Outstanding debt related to bond entities

Please note that for continuous bonds, authorities are not required to issue a bond warning notice. If a continuous bond is not sufficient, it can be labeled as such with no prior warning for importers.

A customs bond is required to import paint into the U.S.

Get your bond quickly through our hassle-free process

Working With a Customs Broker to Import Paint to the US

Working With a Customs Broker to Import Paint to the U.S.

Importing paint into the US can be a complicated process, owing to the complexity of the regulations. Fortunately, working with a Licensed Customs Broker makes the entire import process simpler. A broker will ensure that all necessary documentation for the import is included with the shipment. Brokers can also submit the required files and documentation to customs on behalf of an importer, cutting administrative costs and reducing risks. 

As discussed, there are many complexities involved in importing paint into the US. Obtaining a GCC and having a sufficient customs bond to allow products to gain entry are ongoing issues. An experienced and knowledgeable Customs Broker will alleviate these issues and ensure that your paint import is compliant. You won’t need to stress about whether or not your shipment will safely clear customs.  

Import Paint With USA Customs Clearance

Importing paint into the US is an administratively complicated and challenging process. You need to have a clear understanding of the law and regulatory requirements to ensure that you reliably get paint imports into the U.S. 

USA Customs Clearance has helped paint importers clear Customs and Border Protection for many years, and we can help you. Thanks to our comprehensive approach to customs clearance and logistics, you can get everything done in one place too. 

Our supply chain and logistics services include:

  • Domestic & International Transportation
  • Warehousing
  • Duty Drawback
  • Order Fulfillment
  • White Glove Delivery
  • And much more...

Schedule your customs consulting session today to take the next step towards importing success. 

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