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The Complete Guide to Importing Wood Furniture to the U.S.

A wooden coffee table sitting against a wall
All of the rules and regulations for importing wood furniture to the U.S. can be confusing. Find out what you need to ensure that your imports are successful.
By
Jacob Lee
January 18, 2022
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Last Modified: January 18, 2022

Wooden furniture is a must-have for any furniture store. People like wooden furniture for its sturdiness and aesthetic appeal. However, importing wood furniture to the U.S. isn’t always completely straightforward.

Importing wood furniture to the U.S. requires that you comply with regulations set by APHIS and CITES, adhere to guidelines of the Lacey Act, and obtain specific import permits. Working with a Licensed Customs Broker can help ensure that your wood furniture imports go smoothly.

In our guide below, we provide a rundown of everything you need to know to import wood furniture to the U.S.

Need Help Importing Wood Furniture?

Get 1-on-1 consulting with a Licensed Customs Broker and ensure that your imports are successful

Rules and Regulations For Importing Wood Furniture

A forklift picks up a wooden pallet

One government agency whose regulations you will have to follow for your furniture import is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The first regulation APHIS requires you to follow is to sanitize the wood.

This is done to prevent foreign pests traveling with the wood from disturbing native wildlife. Sanitizing the wood can be done using heat treatment from a kiln or by using chemicals on the surface of the wood.

Next, you need to follow the guidelines of the Lacey Act. This act was passed in 1900 and it was created to prevent the trade of wildlife that was obtained illegally. To abide by this act you need to declare the wood with APHIS by filling out a form called PPQ 505.

Depending on the type of wood in your furniture you may have to follow regulations that are enforced by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 

Obtaining an Import Permit

Importing wooden furniture, other wooden objects, or wood itself will require you to obtain a Timber and Timber Products Import Permit. Obtaining this permit is pretty simple. All you have to do is complete the PPQ 585 form and submit it to APHIS. You can complete this permit online. 

After applying for a permit it will take 30 days for it to arrive. Once you have your permit, it will be valid for a total of two years. 

File Required Import Documents

Besides applying for a Timber and Timber Products Import Permit, you will have to submit a few other types of paperwork to import your wood products. The other types of paperwork are:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Bill of Lading
  • Arrival Notice

The commercial invoice is a piece of paperwork that is used in foreign trade. It is used to list all of the important details about items being imported into the country. Some important information that needs to be included on the commercial invoice are:

  • Type of Packaging
  • Description of Goods
  • Shipping Information
  • Date and Terms of Sale

The packing list works in conjunction with the commercial invoice because it has all of the same information. That said, don’t confuse the packing list as a replacement for the commercial invoice. The packing list is used only for customs to confirm the cargo you are importing. 

The Bill of Lading (BOL) is a document that every importer and exporter needs. If your furniture is damaged, delayed, or lost you will need the BOL to be compensated. The BOL will have the tracking number of your shipment. 

The arrival notice is sent once a shipment has arrived. However, the arrival notice is not the same as the release document. The arrival notice simply tells the consignee that the shipment has arrived and gives them information to clear customs. 

Lastly, the Importer Security Filing (ISF) system needs to be completed. This form is used for ocean freight shipments. The deadline for submitting this document is 24 hours before your cargo is loaded onto the ship that will bring it to a U.S. port. 

Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, enforces ISF. Not meeting the ISF guidelines will result in penalties from CBP. 

If you want more information about ISF, check out our article: ISF Filing: The Complete Guide.

Determining Import Duty For Wood Furniture

A wooden chest of drawers sits against a wall

According to the CBP, wooden furniture will be duty-free as long as it is imported from a country that the U.S. has normal trade relations. That said, it is still ideal to hire a customs broker to properly classify the furniture for you. 

Wood can be put into any number of different furniture pieces. So, the HTS code assigned to the import must be correct even if wooden furniture imports are duty-free under most circumstances. 

If you need to find your product’s classification, use our HTS Code Lookup Tool.

What About Anti-Dumping Duties?

When you import wooden furniture, you should know about anti-dumping duties. When a company is “dumping” it means that they are exporting products for prices that are much less than their actual value would normally be. 

To protect their markets, domestic governments use what are called anti-dumping duties. These are excessively high duties that will make these products more expensive. Currently, the U.S. has antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture that has been assembled in China. 

Fortunately, having a customs broker can be just as helpful when dealing with antidumping duties as they are with regular duties. Customs brokers have access to the Automated Broker Interface or (ABI). 

This software is provided to customs brokers by the CBP. Using ABI, customs brokers can search HTS codes to determine if there is an anti-dumping duty on the item. 

Where Does the U.S. Import Wood Furniture From?

A man stands in front of shipping containers

Many countries produce furniture available for import. However, the U.S. imports much of its wood furniture from these three countries in particular. The countries are:

  • China
  • Mexico
  • India

China is such a popular country to import furniture because of its affordability. Additionally, Chinese furniture has exceptional quality. China provides a large selection of furniture designs to choose from.

Besides the antidumping duties on Chinese imports, you should also know that it takes a long time for Chinese imports to travel to their destination. The amount of time that your Chinese furniture will sit in transit can be anywhere between two weeks and two months. 

If you're looking for furniture that has a colorful design and that reminds you of the countryside, then Mexican furniture is what you are looking for. Mexican furniture is often hand-painted and has carved wood.

Indian furniture has many beautiful design features as well. Oftentimes, the wood on Indian furniture is hand-carved. The intricate designs of Indian furniture are made with high-quality craftsmanship. 

Benefits of Importing Wood Furniture From Mexico and Canada

Importing from Mexico and Canada has some unique benefits that importing from India and China does not. For one, the U.S., Mexico and Canada are part of a free trade agreement called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA.

The cost to ship from Mexico or Canada will be much cheaper. That is because USMCA eliminates or reduces duties and taxes on goods from those countries. Therefore, overall shipping costs on goods whose country of origin is Mexico and Canada will be cheaper.

Another reason why shipping from Mexico and Canada will be cheaper is because of how close they are. The closeness of these countries also means you won’t have to wait for extremely long periods as with overseas shipping or pay high costs.

Working With a Customs Broker to Import Wood Furniture

We must reiterate that you should look into getting a customs broker to help you with importing. 

Customs brokers are licensed by the CBP which means they’re experts at import regulations. 

Staying up to date on all of these regulations can be a hassle. A customs broker can save you frustration by reviewing import details and filing necessary paperwork when needed. 

Import Wood Furniture to the U.S. With USA Customs Clearance

If you need a customs broker to help you import wooden furniture, then USA Customs Clearance has your back. Our experienced team of customs brokers will help with anything you need to clear customs.

If you need a customs bond to import the wooden furniture, we have you covered. On our site, you can obtain a customs bond quickly and efficiently. 

You can also set up a consulting session with one of our brokers who will answer all of your questions. Contact our team so they can help with anything you might be confused about. 

Need Help Importing Wood Furniture?

Get 1-on-1 consulting with a Licensed Customs Broker and ensure that your imports are successful

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