Section 321 Customs: Understanding the De Minimis Threshold for Duty-Free Imports into the US

Section 321 customs is a term often used in the context of cross-border e-commerce. It refers to a provision that allows for the duty-free entry of low-value shipments into the United States. Specifically, Section 321 of the Tariff Act of 1930 exempts shipments valued at $800 or less from the payment of duties and taxes. This provision was originally intended to facilitate the clearance of small packages sent as gifts or samples, but it has become increasingly important in the age of online shopping.

The rise of e-commerce has led to a surge in small cross-border shipments, and Section 321 has played a significant role in facilitating this trade. By exempting low-value shipments from duties and taxes, the provision has made it easier and more cost-effective for businesses and consumers to engage in cross-border transactions. However, the rapid growth of e-commerce has also created challenges for customs authorities, who must process an increasing volume of packages while ensuring compliance with relevant regulations. In this context, Section 321 has become a topic of interest and debate among stakeholders in the cross-border e-commerce ecosystem.

Understanding Section 321 Customs

Eligibility Criteria

Section 321 Customs is a program that allows individuals to import goods into the United States duty-free and tax-free. However, not all shipments are eligible for this program. To qualify for Section 321 Customs, the shipment must meet the following criteria:

  • The shipment must have a fair retail value of $800 or less.
  • The shipment must be imported by one person on one day.
  • The shipment must not be intended for resale.

If the shipment meets these criteria, it is eligible for duty-free and tax-free entry under Section 321 Customs.


The benefits of using Section 321 Customs are clear. By importing goods duty-free and tax-free, individuals can save a significant amount of money on their purchases. This program is particularly useful for individuals who frequently purchase goods from abroad, such as online shoppers.

In addition to the cost savings, Section 321 Customs also allows for faster processing times at the border. Since eligible shipments are not subject to duty or tax, they can be processed more quickly, allowing individuals to receive their packages sooner.

Overall, Section 321 Customs is a valuable program for individuals who import goods into the United States. By meeting the eligibility criteria and taking advantage of the benefits, individuals can save money and time on their international purchases.

Procedure for Section 321 Customs

Filing Process

When importing goods into Canada via Section 321 Customs, the process begins with the filing of an electronic manifest. The manifest must include all pertinent information about the shipment, including the goods being imported, their value, and the identity of the importer and exporter.

Once the manifest has been filed, the importer must then submit a customs declaration. This declaration must be filed within the prescribed time frame and must include all relevant information about the goods being imported, including their value, country of origin, and any applicable duties or taxes.

Shipping and Delivery

After the filing process has been completed, the goods will be shipped to Canada. It is the responsibility of the importer to ensure that the goods are transported in compliance with all applicable regulations and laws.

Upon arrival in Canada, the goods will be subject to inspection by Canadian customs officials. If the goods are found to be in compliance with all applicable regulations and laws, they will be released to the importer for delivery.

In order to ensure that the goods are delivered in a timely and efficient manner, it is recommended that the importer work with a reputable shipping company that has experience in handling Section 321 Customs shipments.

Overall, the process for Section 321 Customs is straightforward and can be completed with relative ease. By following the proper procedures and working with experienced professionals, importers can ensure that their goods are delivered to Canada in compliance with all applicable regulations and laws.

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