Essential Guide on Importing from India to the US

September 21, 2020

This guide will help you know when India is the right place for
manufacturing (instead of always going to China!) + How to import the goods into the US.


Don’t own this belief. It might disrupt you from the more profitable process of importing from India to the USA. 

Just like the idea that rice = China.
India is actually the largest exporter with a 26.7% share of the global export market. China holds only about 1% of the market share. 

Your money making manufacturing business shouldn’t be built on believed assumptions and crude associations. To get that success you deserve you need to understand the market and utilize it for your benefit.

This guide will help you understand the India export market so you will know when India is the right place for manufacturing (instead of always going to China!) and how to import the goods into the US.

Why manufacture in India?

There are popular items from this country that sell well and have a reliable reputation overseas. Buying from these categories may give you better quality items.

10 Most Popular India Exports as recorded on World Stop Exports.

Mineral fuels including oil: US$44.1 billion (13.7% of total exports)
Gems, precious metals: $36.7 billion (11.4%)
Machinery including computers: $21.2 billion (6.6%)
Organic chemicals: $18.3 billion (5.7%)
Vehicles: $17.2 billion (5.3%)
Pharmaceuticals: $16.1 billion (5%)
Electrical machinery, equipment: $14.7 billion (4.5%)
Iron, steel: $9.7 billion (3%)
Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $8.6 billion (2.7%)
Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $7.9 billion (2.5%)

For prohibited or restricted exports see updated information on the DGFT website.

As a standard e-commerce buyer, it would be wise to look at India for stainless steel items, cotton-based products, and knitted accessories.

Once you know what you want to manufacture, it’s time to start the process.

Check IndiaMart to get quotes from verified suppliers.
Find a sourcing agent like Swishsourcing to help you find the reputable factories.

Make sure your payment is secure by using a verified system like PayPal or Payoneer.

Now it’s time to bring the goods to the US.

Good news! If you’ve already exported goods from China, you know what to expect. The India import procedure is the same with no additional tariffs. If this is the first time you’re doing this check out our more detailed China Import Guide for what to expect.

Here are 4 steps to importing that always apply.

1. Understand how the goods are being transported and delivered and by who.

On your agreement with the manufacturer, the Incoterm listed will clarify when the goods switch hands. Incoterms are the international set of terms used to define the rights and responsibilities of the importer/exporter. 

Depending on when you assume responsibility for the goods, you can determine which shipping methods to use.

2. Know the import tax from India to USA.

What is the import tax?

Import tax = Customs Value * Duty Rate The customs value is determined by HS coding. Check the code and duty rate for your product on the US import tariff website. You can research on the CPB site to determine the correct code. Most personal imports valued under $800 is not taxed.

3. Make sure you are compliant with USA government regulations.

Product compliance
As an importer, you must ensure your imported products meet all US federal requirements. Some agencies that require compliance are: FDA, EPA, DOT, CPSC, FTC, USDA, TTB

Customs bonds
Imports worth more than $2500, or imports requiring compliance may need an insurance policy guaranteeing the payment of duties and taxes to the U.S. government.

4. Be prepared with the documents required for customs clearance on Indian exports/imports.

Basic required documents:

Bill of lading:
A receipt listing the items to be imported.

Commercial invoice:
List the country of origin, purchase price, and HS code.

Packing list:
This provides details on the imported goods.

Arrival notice:
This confirms shipment arrival by a U.S. Customs Agent.

Importing goods from India is just as simple as doing it from China. And many times, much more rewarding. Benefit from India’s expertise and stellar reputation on worldwide products. You’re smart for assessing the market and manufacturing the right products in India.

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