How to import fashion jewelry

Updated April 17, 2017

Importing jewellery has a number of legal requirements which much be met. Learning and adhering to these regulations is not difficult, but will ensure your success when importing fashion jewellery. Dealing with vendors overseas necessitates learning the vocabulary of global trade. Importing from a few countries may be tricky, if not impossible because of the types of trade agreements certain countries hold with the U.S. government. Engage in successful business transactions with foreign countries by using laws and regulations accurately. The ability to do this will come through knowing a few key regulations which must be adhered to.

A license is not required for the importation of most fashion accessories, such as jewellery, and watches.

Prepare to pay an import tax, or duty, in the U.S. on items for resale. Some items might be duty free, however, the average tax is 3 to 5 per cent and can be as much as 20 per cent. An item is valued according to its current US market rate (the price you intend to sell it for).

Fill out necessary paperwork at US Customs and pay import duties. All items imported are taxed according to the US Harmonized Tariff Schedule.

Section XIV, Chapter 71 of the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule contains a chart listing the rates of duty for some precious and semiprecious stones, and other items for imitation jewellery, also coins. A ten-digit number classifying items is assigned to each type of item. The number determines the rate of duty and eligibility for special trade programs.

Obtain item samples to be certain of their quality. Consider the costs of transportation, such as, who will be responsible for the payment for the export of your items from the country of purchase, the payment of the freight by air or by sea to the U.S. and the payment for the transportation to your business from the port of entry. Know who will be responsible for payment for insurance should you decide that you need it.

Discuss incoterms with your vendor. Incoterms are the internationally accepted terms used to conduct global business. Incoterms also specify the documents required for conducting global trade and who is responsible for which documents.

An explanation of these terms can be found at the Foreign-Trade website.

Review the guidelines governing each transaction and each vendor to be certain all business persons involved are in agreement and understand the transaction.


Doing business with India is eased by the availability of English speaking vendors. China and India have large export markets for fashion accessories. Here is an example of a classification from the Informed Trade website: Imitation jewellery: of base metal, whether or not plated with precious metal: Cuff links and studs. Classification: 7117110000 Duty Rate: 8 per cent Special Trade Programs: Eligible for reduced duty rate. Find incoterms listed by category. F terms refer to primary shipping costs not paid for by the seller. C terms refer to shipping costs paid by the seller. Use E-terms when the vendor has fulfilled his responsibilities and items are ready to depart from their facilities. D terms refer to the fulfilment of the shipper/seller's responsibility upon arrival of the goods at some specific point. D terms also frequently involve the services of a customs broker and a freight forwarder because shipments of goods are moving into a country. Pier or docking charges also involve D terms. These transactions are found at most ports and determine who is responsible for each charge.


Watches are problematic. They are assigned a classification number for each part, even if assembled. An import license could be required fabric items, or items being imported from countries that do not have normal trade agreements with the U.S., such as Cuba and North Korea. Be aware that some countries, China for one, may have quotas on the import of textiles. Proper classification of your import items using the US Harmonized Tariff Schedule will help avoid being overcharged by U.S. Customs.

Things You'll Need

  • product samples
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About the Author

Kathryn Marmon began writing from New Mexico in 1983. Her articles have been published in "New Mexico Magazine" and small-town newspaper, the "Cibola County Beacon." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in journalism from the University of New Mexico.