Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I find more information about the agreements?

More information on each of the trade agreements featured here can be obtained from the Trade Information Center (TIC) or the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR):

How do I fill out the customs forms to claim the preference?

Companies or others interested in exporting to an FTA partner market can obtain more information from the Trade Information Center.

Companies and others interested in importing from an FTA partner into the United States can obtain more information here.

Is the FTA tariff is being applied correctly at the border?

The International Trade Administration’s Trade Compliance Center is the U.S. Government’s point of contact for U.S. companies that may encounter barriers or the improper application of U.S. trade agreements. More information on the TCC can be obtained here.

How do I figure out what the tariff classification is for my product?

For companies or others interested in exporting from the United States to an FTA partner, the Trade Information Center provides a guide to help you determine the tariff classification of your product.

What is a staging basket?

During the course of free trade agreement negotiations, goods are sorted into various staging “baskets.” These baskets determine the amount of time it takes for the products within the basket to go duty-free under the agreement. For example, for all goods in the 10-Year basket will become duty-free ten years after the FTA enters into force.

What does non-linear mean?

Typically, under an FTA, tariffs on goods are reduced in equal installments (i.e., in a linear manner) over the designated period. Non-linear tariff reductions, on the other hand, take place at an uneven rate throughout the designated period. For example, a non-linear tariff elimination schedule may involve little or no tariff reductions in the initial years followed by larger cuts in the later years.

How does this database define the various (chemicals, aerospace, etc.) sectors?

Most of the sectors in this database are defined by the various sectoral agreements negotiated in the World Trade Organization.

Now that I have tariff information in hand, where can I learn more about the export opportunities for my product in an FTA partner market?

The U.S. Commercial Service supports U.S. businesses through its global network of offices. The U.S. Commercial Service achieves this by providing world-class market research, sponsoring trade events that promote your U.S. products or service to qualified buyers, providing introductions to qualified buyers and distributors, and counseling exporters through every step of the export process.

For more information about how the U.S. Commercial Service’s worldwide network can help exporter learn about new markets, call 1-800-USA-TRADE or contact your local Export Assistance Centers.

Why are some U.S. free trade agreements not included in this database?

Three U.S. free trade agreements have been excluded from this database because all tariffs on industrial goods have been eliminated under these agreements as of 2010. The three agreements are:

  • The U.S.-Israel FTA;
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and
  • The U.S.-Jordan FTA.
Why is my product duty-free with some FTA partners but not with others?

The United States has negotiated and implemented its free trade agreements over a number of years. Because of this, the tariff on a good imported under the U.S.-Peru agreement (implemented in 2009) might be different from the tariff applied on the same good if was imported under the U.S.-Australia agreement (2005).

Why are some of the tariff schedules in the database in French or Spanish?

The database contains the official tariff schedules negotiated under the various U.S. FTAs. For some countries, the schedules are in English. For others, the schedules are in French (Morocco) or Spanish (the DR-CAFTA countries and Peru).

Why can’t I find my product in the tariff search?

The “What’s My Tariff” search is based on the tariff nomenclatures of the United States and its FTA partners. The tariff nomenclatures often contain technical descriptions of products rather than the more commonly known descriptions. For example, “cars” or “automobiles” are referred to as “motor vehicles” in the tariff schedules. Likewise, “computers” are referred to as “automatic data processing machines” in the tariff schedules.

The U.S. International Trade Commission’s HTS Online Reference Tool is a useful tool for helping to determine the tariff classification of your product. It contains many general keywords and links them to the more technical tariff nomenclature descriptions. However, please note that this should be used only as a general reference as the United States and its FTA partners may likely classify your product differently.

Presented by the Office of Trade Negotiations and Analysis, Trade Policy and Analysis, Industry and Analysis, International Trade Administration, US Department of Commerce

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