DutyCalculator Help Center

How to work out import duty and taxes

When importing an item, you may be charged import duty, sales tax, and possibly other taxes or customs charges.

Import duty calculation

In most cases, import duty is calculated as a percentage of the customs value of the import (ad valorem duty). The customs value varies by country. The duty rate depends on the product classification.

In some countries the customs value is based on the FOB value:

Duty = duty % x product price

In most countries the customs value is based on the CIF value:

Duty = duty % x (product price + cost of shipping + cost of insurance)

Import duty can also be calculated based on a unit of measure, for instance weight, dimensions, etc. (specific duty):

Duty = $X per kg/liter/piece

Typically, most countries use a combination of ad valorem and specific duties.

Sales Tax calculation

Sales tax (VAT, GST, etc.) is calculated as a percentage of the customs value plus the duty paid. Some countries may also factor other taxes, if applicable, in the calculation of sales tax:

Sales tax = sales tax % x (CIF value + duty)

Many countries have a standard sales tax rate to which most imports are subject, but a reduced sales tax rate may apply to certain goods like basic foodstuffs, medicines, books, etc. In some cases a higher sales tax rate may apply to certain products, e.g. alcoholic beverages.

Other taxes

Additional taxes or customs charges may apply on imports. Some examples are:

  • Excise duty is commonly levied on alcohol, tobacco and fuel products. 
  • Consumption tax may be levied by some countries on luxury goods. 
  • Environmental tax is applied by some countries on imports of vehicles, plastics, etc.
  • Clearance/entry fees may be charged by customs to cover admin costs.


Minimum thresholds 

Certain countries have set minimum thresholds below which no import duty and/or VAT is due. 

Related topics: Example calculation - import duty & taxes for a set of golf clubs , Example calculation - import duty & taxes for a guitar and amp , Example calculation - import duty & taxes for laptop and dress

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