United States of America
The United States is the second largest export market of Nepal. The biggest exports to the US are carpets, Pashmina, readymade garments, felt products, among others. The US is one of the major countries with whom Nepal has a trade surplus. Nepal and the US signed the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2011 with an objective of the expansion of trade, investment, and technical cooperation between the two countries. Further, following the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“TFTEA”) was enacted in the US, which created a trade preference program for Nepal to help the country’s economic recovery. The Nepal Preference Program, authorized for ten years, grants duty-free treatment to Nepal for products covered by 77 Harmonized Tariff Schedule lines (including handicrafts, shawls, and travel goods). Check the list here.
Exporting to the USA
Exporters need to follow all of the export procedures as presented in the Guide to Export section to send their products to the USA.
The exporters are required to have filled up the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Form to avail the duty-free privileges bestowed on Nepali products in addition to the Certificate of the Origin obtained from the concerned body. For handicraft export, the traders need to produce a valuation certificate assessed by Nepal Customs based on the recommendations of the Federation of Handicraft Association of Nepal, also these products need to be certified by the Department of Archaeology. Likewise, all the agriculture products need to additional certificates from the Ministry of Agriculture.
US Embassy in Nepal has prepared a guidebook for Nepali businesses regarding details on exporting to the US which provides detailed information. Click here to read the handbook.
United States Import Entry Procedures
US Customs and Border Protection, also known as US Customs controls the importation of all goods entered into the United States. Nepali exporters can only export their products after entering into import contract with a company or individual in the USA, who will act as the “importer of record”.
As a general rule, the importer of record may be the vendor, purchaser or another person who has a financial interest in the goods. The importer of record is responsible for filing the entry documents with US Customs at the port of entry. The importer must determine the classification number of the merchandise being imported. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), issued by the United States International Trade Commission, prescribes the classification of merchandise by type of product; e.g., animal and vegetable products, textile fibers and textile products. The importer must pay estimated duties and processing fees if applicable. Customs makes the final determination of the correct rate of duty.
Due to the complexity of these procedures, the preparation and filing of the Customs entry is almost always handled by a licensed Customs Broker on the importer of record’s behalf.
- Before you ship, you must ensure that your goods comply for entry and distribution in the United States.
- The goods must also comply with any applicable consumer safety standards.
- Your goods may not contain any disqualifying or controlled materials unless you have a permit or license authorizing their importation. The acquisition of the permit must be arranged before you ship. To avoid delays at the border, make sure to discuss this with your Customs Broker ahead of time.
- Your goods may not contravene any US patent or trademark law.
For a more detailed description of the import requirements please refer to this video:
The US Government, as well as the certain American States, require goods to be marked or labeled with information of interest to the purchaser or consumer. Most garments shipped to the United States must be marked or labeled with the country of origin, fiber content, the identity of the manufacturer or dealer and care instructions. Garments that are not marked and labeled in accordance with these requirements may not be imported into or distributed in the United States.
Every article of foreign origin entering the United States must be marked with the origin of the product in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article will permit.
Most garments also require a label indicating the fiber content and name or registration number of the importer, wholesaler or retailer.
Articles that are subject to fiber content labeling must also identify the company name or Registered Identification Number (RN) of the manufacturer, importer or other firm marketing, distributing or otherwise handling the product.
Following additional details are required for goods listed below:
- Type of flat good
- Outer surface type – leather or plastic
- If leather does it contain reptile goods
- If plastic, is it structured or ridged
- Beaded or otherwise
- If textile, include specific details
- If it is casing used to transport CDs or CD players
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Is it – knotted, woven, tufted or flocked, of pile construction, hand-knotted, hooked or woven
- Net weight
- Fiber content by weight
Hats and Headgear
- Trimming and linings
- Material type and details
- If safety headgear, provide details
Gloves, mittens, and mitts
- Knitted or woven designation
- Fabric, leather, plastic or rubber
- Type of leather
- Type of plastic
- Type of fabric
- Type of rubber
- Seamless, disposable, surgical, medical or lined
- Gender Designation
The following details are required for shipments of textile clothing (also known as Clothing/Garment):
- Men’s/women’s or boy’s/girl’s designation
- Knit or woven designation
- Fiber content by weight
- If units or ensembles, values for each piece must be provided
- Corduroy and denim construction must be identified
- Woven shirts must identify if two or more colors in warp and/or filling (weft)
- Gloves must identify with or without fourchettes
- Knit gloves must identify terry, jersey or lisle construction
- The addition of lace on any garment must be noted
For more information, visit Federal Trade Commission’s website.
Exporting food, animal and plant items
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the entry of foreign agricultural products–plants and animals, as well as all products derived from plants and animals–into the United States. The US Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces APHIS regulations at ports of entry. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists inspect shipments of imported products and ensure that the required permits, sanitary certificates (for animal products), and phytosanitary certificates (for plant products) accompany each shipment. To enter the United States legally, even commercially processed and packaged products may require a permit or documentation from the country of export, certifying that the products meet U.S. animal and plant health standards.
US importers should obtain agricultural permits for shipments far in advance of their transport. To request an import permit, contact APHIS at:
USDA-APHIS, Plant Protection, and Quarantine Permit Unit 4700 River Road, Unit 133 Riverdale, MD 20737
Phone: (877) 770-5990 or (301) 851-2046 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/permits/index.shtml
The ePermits System
APHIS also offers the ePermits system, a Web-based tool that allows importers to apply for a permit, check its status, and view it on the Internet. The system minimizes the time it takes to complete permit applications, process data, and issue permits. To find out how to apply for a permit online, please visit www.aphis.usda.gov/permits/learn_epermits.shtml. To register for the ePermits system, go to www.aphis.usda.gov/permits/eauth_epermits.shtml.
Exporting Food Products
In addition to meeting the requirements of U.S. food regulations including food facility registration, importers must follow U.S. import procedures as well as the requirements of Prior Notice.
- Import Program – Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Prior Notice of Imported Foods
- Chapter 5 - Food, Colors, and Cosmetics
- Imports & Exports Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information
Articles of Stone and Jewellery
Since the enactment of the Customs Modernization Act in December 1993, the legal burden of correctly classifying merchandise has shifted from US Customs to the importer. It is the importer’s responsibility to determine the precise composition of the merchandise prior to importation and entry. He or she should obtain this information from the foreign supplier.
Invoices must provide a precise description of the product’s composition. The precise geological name of any stone product (including any article of precious or semiprecious stone) should be indicated as well as the exact manner in which the product was worked. If a product is agglomerated with a binding material, the invoice should indicate this fact and identify the binding material.
If a product consists of worked vegetable or mineral carving material, wax, stearin, etc., the invoice should provide an exact description of the article’s composition. If a product has already been imported and the importer has questions regarding the classification, he should seek advice from the commodity specialist team at the port of entry.
For more information click here.
A more detailed description of all regulations related to exporting to the US can be found at the US Customs and Border Protection’s website. Click here to access it.