How to Import Furniture from Vietnam to USA

If you’re thinking of how to import furniture from Vietnam, then you are investing in renowned, meticulous craftsmanship, employing time-tested techniques and utilizing high-quality, locally sourced materials. 

The best products to import from Vietnam are unique and durable furniture made of acacia wood, bamboo, and rattan pieces that perfectly complement modern and traditional design aesthetics. 

Shipping Furniture from Vietnam to USA Step-by-Step

Importing furniture from Vietnam is a great opportunity for businesses. 

Reaching nearly $8.4 billion in 2023 and accounting for a staggering 82.9% of the country’s total export turnover in wood and wood products, there is an increase in global recognition of Vietnamese craftsmanship and the potential for international businesses.

1. Find a Reliable Vietnamese Supplies

Establish a strong relationship with a reputable furniture manufacturer or exporter. 

Research potential suppliers online, attend trade shows, or consult with industry associations to find qualified vendors. 

Negotiate pricing, quality standards, minimum order quantities (MOQ), and payment terms. 

It’s also important to ask about the supplier’s experience with importing furniture from Vietnam to USA, including their knowledge of US customs regulations and documentation requirements. 

2. Product Classification and HS Code

Identify the Harmonized System (HS) code for your furniture. 

This critical code determines import duties, regulations, and any licensing requirements. The HS code is an internationally standardized system for classifying traded goods. 

It consists of six digits, with the first six digits representing the broader category and subsequent digits providing increasing specificity. 

For example, the HS code for wooden chairs might begin with “44.18” with subsequent digits identifying the specific type of wooden chair (e.g., folding chairs, dining chairs, armchairs). 

Researching the HS code can be done through online resources or by consulting with a customs broker. 

Accurately classifying your furniture and obtaining the correct HS code is essential to avoid delays and unexpected costs during US customs clearance.

3. Contact and Proforma Invoice

Get a hold of a formal contract outlining the agreed-upon terms of sale, including the product description, quantity, unit price, total value, terms (international commerce terms that specify responsibilities of buyer and seller), payment terms, and delivery timeframe. 

The proforma invoice, typically issued by the Vietnamese supplier, details the same information as the sales contract but serves as a preliminary invoice used for various purposes, such as applying for export licenses in Vietnam or obtaining a letter of credit from your bank.  

4. Export Clearance in Vietnam

The Vietnamese exporter will handle obtaining necessary export licenses and phytosanitary certificates (for wood furniture) to comply with Vietnamese regulations. 

Phytosanitary certificates are issued by Vietnamese authorities to certify that the wood furniture is free from pests and diseases, a requirement for importing wood products into the US. 

5. Freight Forwarding and Shipping

Choose a reliable freight forwarder to handle international shipping logistics. Freight forwarders specialize in coordinating the movement of goods between countries, including arranging transportations, customs clearance, and necessary documentation. 

They can advise on the most suitable shipping method (ocean freight, air freight, express freight) and provide quotes based on factors like weight, volume, and destination port. 

6. Import Clearance in the USA

Once your furniture from Vietnam reaches the US port, your freight forwarder, or customs broker you hire, will navigate the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) clearance procedures. 

This involves submitting required documentation (commercial invoice, bill of lading, packing list, etc.), paying applicable duties and taxes, ensuring the furniture complies with US safety and labeling standards. 

7. Delivery and Inspection

Once cleared by CBP, your furniture will be delivered to your designated warehouse or location, where you may conduct a final inspection to verify the shipment matches the agreed-upon specifications and quality standards. 

VAT and Export Duty Regulations for Shipping Furniture from Vietnam to the USA

Vietnam generally has a Value Added Tax (VAT) on exported goods, but it can be zero-rated depending on the specific furniture type and material. 

Consult with your Vietnamese supplier or a customs broker to determine the application VAT rate. 

Export duties in Vietnam are typically low for furniture, but it’s important to confirm with your supplier for any specific charges. 

Customs Documentation for Exporting Furniture

Shipping from Vietnam to US demands customs documentation: 

  • Commercial Invoice: A detailed breakdown of the furniture, including quantity, unit price, and total value. 
  • Bill of Lading (BOL): A legal document issued by the carrier acknowledging receipt of the cargo for shipment. There are different BOL types:
    • Function: A negotiable BOL acts as a document of title for the goods being shipped. This means whoever possesses the original, endorsed negotiable BOL is considered the legal owner of the furniture. 
    • Implications: Negotiable BOLs are typically used when the payment terms involve a letter of credit. The bank holding the letter of credit will only release payment to the seller once they receive the endorsed original negotiable BOL, ensuring the furniture has been shipped before the buyer pays. 
    • Considerations: Negotiable BOLs offer greater security for the buyer as they guarantee the furniture has been shipped before releasing payment. However, they involve more complex paperwork and processing compared to non-negotiables BOLs. 
  • Packing List: An itemized list of the furniture being shipped, including quantity, description, weight, and dimensions per package. 
  • Certificate of Origin (CO): This document verifies the furniture’s country of origin. It may be required for preferential duty treatment under trade agreements. 

Licensing Requirements for Furniture Exports

Furniture exports from Vietnam typically don’t require specific licensing beyond those obtained by your Vietnamese supplier. 

However, certain restricted wood species may require additional permits. It’s crucial to confirm these details with your supplier and relevant Vietnamese authorities. 

  • Wood Species: Identify the exact wood types used in your furniture. This information should be readily available from your supplier. 
  • Supplier Licenses: Verify that your supplier possesses the necessary licenses for exporting furniture, particularly if dealing with restricted wood species. 
  • Additional Permits: If your furniture uses restricted wood, ask about any additional permits required for export. Your supplier or relevant Vietnamese authorities like VNFOREST can provide guidance. 

Import Duties for Furniture from Vietnam

The import duty you pay for furniture entering the USA depends on specific code – the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code. 

Why You Need an HS Code To Ship From Vietnam

The HS code plays a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth journey for your import furniture from Vietnam to the US. 

International Classification System

The HS code serves as a globally standardized system for classifying traded goods. This code ensures consistent categorization across different countries, facilitating international trade. 

Customs Clearance Efficiency

When your furniture arrives at a US port, CBP officials rely on the HS code to determine import duties, taxes, and any potential licensing requirements. An accurate HS code expedites the customs clearance process by providing clear information for duty assessment and regulatory compliance. 

Avoiding Delays and Costs

Inaccurate HS codes can lead to significant delays and additional costs during US customs clearance. 

CBP might hold your shipment for reclassification, potentially resulting in missed deadlines and storage fees. Additionally, you might be charged incorrect duty rates, leading to unexpected financial burdens. 

Streamlining the Process

By correctly identifying the HS code for your furniture, you provide CBP with the necessary information to efficiently process your shipment. This results in a faster clearance process, reduced risk of delays, and predictable import costs. 

HS VS. HTS Codes: What Is The Difference?

When you import furnitures from Vietnam, you’ll encounter two seemingly similar codes: the HS code and the HTS code. 

There are key differences to remember: 

  • Universality vs. Specificity: The HS code offers a universal classification system as mentioned above, while the HTS code provides more specific categorization within the US context. 
  • Number of Digits: The HS code typically uses six digits, while the HTS code might have additional digits for further product definition. 
  • Impact on Import Duties: The HTS code directly determines the import duties and taxes applied to your furniture in the USA. 
FeatureHS CodeHTS Code
FunctionStandardized international system for classifying traded goodsUS adaptation of the HS code
Maintained byWorld Customs Organization (WCO)US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Structure6 digits6+ digits (first 6 digits typically mirror HS code)
PurposeConsistent classification across bordersMore specific product categorization within the US
BenefitsSimplifies international trade, efficient customs clearanceEnsures accurate duty assessment, avoids delays
HS Code vs HTS Code