Section 321: US Customs’ Best-kept Secret To Ship Duty-Free

Dushant Dayal
Dushant Dayal Sep 18, 2020 • 3 min read
US customs

It’s no secret. The United States (US) is one of the leading eCommerce markets in the world. By the year 2021, an estimated 230.5 million Americans will browse and buy products online at least once. We’re not surprised by these numbers at all. With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that changed the way we live in just a few months, online shopping has become the most convenient way for homebound people to shop for practically everything from the comfort of their couch.

So if you own a Canadian online store, now’s the right time to step outside your comfort zone and tap millions of online consumers across the border. There’s a little known US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) legislation called Section 321 that you could use as a carrot to attract US consumers. Want to find out more? Keep reading and we’ll spill our secrets for your US-bound shipments.

US customs

What is Section 321?

Section 321 is the legislation that describes de minimis. A de minimis shipment or Section 321 CBP shipment allows for goods valued at USD 800 or less to be imported into the US free of taxes and duties.

The de minimis threshold originally set by the US Customs was USD 200. But on February 24, 2016, the de minimis value was raised by the US Customs from USD 200 to USD 800 with the passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA)

How eShipper leverages the benefits of Section 321

Now that you know how Section 321 works, here’s how eShipper uses the benefits of this statute to make shipping from Canada to the US custom-free.

With eShipper’s PBX (Cross Border service), you can:

1. Eliminate duty costs

American consumers avoid paying taxes and duties when they buy goods worth USD 800 or less from your Canadian online store. It’s a great incentive that will save them hundreds of dollars.

But to qualify for the Section 321 exemption, US Customs says that shipments must be imported by an individual American consumer on a single day.

US customs

2. Fast transit times

Another secret to growing your customer base in the US is to meet the delivery

expectations of your American consumers. And one of these is fast delivery.

With eShipper’s PBX (Cross Border service), you enjoy fast transit times anywhere in the US. How? Once your shipment arrives at our central facility, our US logistics partner will pick up and linehaul the shipment into the US and inject it directly into their facility in Greenwood, Indiana. The last-mile delivery will then be carried out by the US Postal Service (USPS).

Not only will you get access to America’s largest delivery network, but USPS also services 100% of zip codes. No matter where your customers live in the US, we can surely reach them.


3. Ship dry foods and FDA-approved products across the border

eShipper is one of the few Canadian shipping companies that can transport dry foods and FDA-approved products into the US at highly competitive shipping costs.

Take a look at the list of duty-free items you can ship from Canada to the US:

  • Nutritional supplements
  • Candies and sweets
  • Dry foods
  • Cosmetics
  • Beauty products
  • Dinnerware
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Radiation-emitting non-medical devices
  • Biological samples for laboratory testing
  • Food (excluding ackees, pufferfish, raw clams, raw oysters, raw mussels, and foods packed in airtight containers stored at room temperature)

4. Reduce paperwork

We simplify your operations. Do away with complicated carrier contracts and invoices.

5. Faster clearance processing

Our US logistics partner works with US Customs to quickly clear Canadian shipments destined for US addresses.

Section 321 restrictions you should know about

It’s important to note that some US-bound shipments are not covered by Section 321. These are:

Goods needing inspection as a condition of release, regardless of value

Merchandise subject to Anti-Dumping Duty (ADD) and/or Countervailing Duty (CVD)

Products that are regulated by the following Participating Government Agencies (PGAs):
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with some exemptions
- Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
- National Highway Transport and Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Duty-free Canada to US shipping: The secret carrot

The immense popularity of online shopping in the US combined with the perks of Section 321 gives you the secret edge to successfully compete in the American market. If you’re not convinced yet, let this data from the US Customs speak for itself: nearly 2 million shipments enter the US every day under Section 321.

Moreover, 27 million parcels travel from Canada and the US. And it doesn’t seem that those numbers will change anytime soon especially with the holidays just around the corner.

Section 321 is dangling there like a huge carrot, and American consumers will want to grab it.

Hop over to this section and start shipping to the US with our PBX (Cross Border service).

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