Everything You Need To Know About Section 321

Find out about duty-free US entry shipping with Section 321
April 1, 2024

Shipping internationally is challenging and often comes with high fees and a ton of paperwork you don't even want to look at. It can make various brands and ecommerce companies not even want to consider expanding their business overseas. However, it doesn't always have to be this way, especially if you're shipping goods to the US that are worth less than $800.

All you need is to use Section 321, which can provide you with faster shipping, duty-free costs, and much less paperwork. Below, we'll dive into everything you need to know about this provision and how you can use it yourself.

Let's get started!

What is Section 321?

Looking through the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, you'll find Section 321. This specific provision allows US-bound qualified shipments valued at $800 or less to receive duty-free entry of goods. The 321 de minimis amount (a threshold value set by Section 321), which was previously $200 and raised to $800 back in 2016, was calculated based on the fair retail value in the US.

Section 321 imports don't require any customs forms as long as the shipment qualifies for the de minimis value. A wide range of products are allowed for Section 321 entry. However, there are some restrictions and regulations on things like cigarettes, alcohol, and harsh chemicals.

Section 321 rules and conditions for e-commerce

While the whole basis of Section 321 shipping is simple, there are also some things you might want to keep in mind about the provision.

Here are some of the main rules and conditions that will help ensure your shipments receive quicker clearance and require less paperwork:

Laws and regulations on US customs

The United States government has put in a wide range of laws and regulations when it comes to customs, and much of this still applies under Section 321. The main one to remember is the de minimis amount of $800. So, if the goods you're importing are valued at more than this, you won't qualify for duty-free.

There are some other regulations that you need to keep in mind, too. The main one is that the administrative ruling restricts a list of goods, including products that need to be inspected, those that fall under the Countervailing or Anti-Dumping Duty, products regulated by agencies like the FDA, and cigarettes and alcohol.

For every Section 321 shipment, you must provide proof of its retail value, a consignee name, and an address.

Chinese imports

While the country of origin doesn't usually matter when it comes to Section 321 customs clearance, many people often wonder if it applies to imports from China. This is because the US has been involved in an economic trade war with the Asian country, and something known as Section 301 is placed on US-specific import duties from there.

However, luckily, Section 321 overrides Section 301 as long as the shipment meets the de minimis threshold.

How can Section 321 benefit your business?

Many people and shippers are making the most out of Section 321, and that's because it comes with a wide range of advantages, including the following:

Reduced shipping costs

The main benefit of Section 321 is that it makes shipments into the US duty and tax-free as long as they are under a total value of $800. This helps various people and businesses be able to transport goods across borders without having to worry about paying extra shipping costs, especially when it's a smaller order.

Faster international shipping

Section 321 shipments require very little customs paperwork, and they go through a much faster clearance process. As long as all the goods meet the rules and regulations, they will swiftly be approved and be able to reach the US quickly. When running a business, this means customers can get their goods better, and that's always a plus.

Get ahead of the competition

Expanding internationally can be challenging for ecommerce businesses due to the extra fees and endless piles of paperwork. But by making the most of Section 321, you can get your goods to the US market with cost savings that don't cut into your budget. You can also get a sense of how the US reacts to your budget before you start moving to bulk shipping.

How to claim Section 321

So, how do you actually claim Section 321 during the international shipping process to the US? It is quite simple and can be done in three easy steps:

  1. If running an ecommerce business, you'll need to wait for someone in the US to place an order first so you know where you're sending your goods. If the order is lower than $800, you can send it out for shipping.
  2. Your shipment of goods will then make its way across the US border. As long as you meet all the requirements we've mentioned in this article, the carrier should get through customs with no delays and completely duty-free.
  3. The goods will be handed over to a domestic carrier, who will complete the order by delivering it directly to your customer. You should then receive confirmation the shipment has been delivered.


Section 321 has been around for some time, but it has become particularly useful since 2016, when the de minimis value was increased to $800. It allows ecommerce businesses to ship their goods to the US with little paperwork and duty-free. This not only helps them grow but it allows customers in the US to experience international products at a reduced price.

If you want to know more about Section 321, and how you can use it for your consume brand or ecommerce company, then Portless can help. Get in touch with one of our experts today to find out more.

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