Shipping Support Center

A step-by-step guide for DHL Express customers

Learn About Customs

Get to Know Customs

Responsible for securing America’s borders, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency regulates and facilitates lawful international trade and travel by ensuring that the hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations are followed.

In the United States, Customs clearance laws are enforced by CBP, a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. One of the largest and most complex U.S. law enforcement agencies, the CBP’s priority mission is to ensure that terrorists and the weapons they employ are kept out of the country. 

The agency is also responsible for safeguarding American businesses from intellectual property theft, protecting U.S. agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests or diseases, as well as stopping the flow of illegal contraband and drugs. Many answers regarding questions you may have about the Customs clearance process can be found at

Duties Taxes and Fees

The words “tariff” and “duty” are often used interchangeably, and both are a form of indirect taxation. When discussing governments or economies, the term tariff is generally used. Tariffs protect domestic markets while generating revenue. When discussing rates or amounts, the term duty is generally used. Commodity classification codes are used in determining the amount of duty applied. 

A duty is a tax levied by governments on imported and exported goods. The calculation of duties is dependent on the declared value of the commodities within the shipment. Duties are applied by U.S. Customs at the time of initial entry and vary depending on the commodity’s classification code, value, country of manufacture and associated freight charges. 

Each country establishes its own standards as to which goods are considered a document (non-dutiable) or non-document (dutiable). In most cases, documents that do not have any commercial value are not dutiable. However, documents with commercial value are dutiable.

> Learn About Classifying Your Commodity

Customs Checklist

The following checklist includes details needed to obtain an estimate of Customs duties, taxes and fees in Trade Automation Services:

  1. Sender’s address
  2. Receiver’s address
  3. Commodity description
  4. Commodity country of manufacture
  5. Commodity classification code – HTS, ECCN or Schedule B
  6. Commodity quantity
  7. Commodity price per unit

> Get an Estimate Now

 Download or Print Checklist

 Good to Know

Duties and Taxes Paid (DTP) is an optional service DHL can provide. At your request, we will invoice the shipper for duties and taxes, or an entity in a country other than the destination. 

See an extensive list of additional Customs Services DHL provides.

How DHL Supports the Customs Process

Payment of duties and taxes is often the responsibility of the receiver. DHL will contact the receiver on behalf of Customs to arrange for payment at to help expedite delivery. 

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