Section 321: Simplifying Low-Value Imports into the United States

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Written By Customs City


In the world of international trade, Section 321 of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations has emerged as a significant provision. It offers a simplified path for the clearance of low-value shipments entering the United States. Commonly known as the “de minimis” provision, Section 321 plays a pivotal role in streamlining the customs entry process for goods with low values. In this article, we will explore the concept of Section 321, its importance, and how it simplifies the importation of low-value goods.

Understanding Section 321

Section 321 is a key component of U.S. customs regulations designed to expedite the entry of low-value shipments. As of my knowledge cutoff date in September 2021, this provision allows goods with a declared value of $800 or less to be exempt from duty and tax obligations upon entry into the United States. This exemption provides importers with a more straightforward customs entry process for their lower-value shipments.

Key Aspects of Section 321:

  1. Value Threshold: Goods valued at $800 or less are eligible for Section 321 customs clearance.
  2. Simplified Entry: Section 321 offers a streamlined customs entry process, reducing administrative requirements for both importers and customs authorities.
  3. Consumer Benefits: Section 321 is especially beneficial for individual consumers and small businesses, often resulting in lower costs due to reduced customs duties and taxes.
  4. E-commerce Facilitation: With the growth of e-commerce, Section 321 has become increasingly important, as it simplifies the importation of small online purchases from international sellers.

Significance of Section 321

  1. Supporting Small Businesses: Section 321 customs clearance eases the administrative burden on small and medium-sized businesses by allowing them to import low-value shipments without the complexities of formal customs entries.
  2. E-commerce Growth: The rise of online shopping has made Section 321 a critical element in facilitating the importation of individual consumer purchases from international e-commerce platforms.
  3. Efficiency and Speed: The simplified entry process enhances the efficiency and speed of customs clearance for low-value shipments, reducing delays and costs for importers and customs authorities.
  4. Resource Allocation: Customs authorities can allocate their resources more effectively by focusing inspections and examinations on higher-value or higher-risk shipments, thereby enhancing border security efforts.
  5. Consumer Savings: Consumers often enjoy reduced prices when importing goods valued under $800, as businesses pass on the savings from lower duties and taxes.
  6. Environmental Considerations: The increased volume of low-value shipments under Section 321 can have environmental implications due to packaging waste and transportation emissions. This underscores the importance of sustainable packaging and transportation practices in global trade.

Compliance with Section 321

To fully benefit from Section 321 customs clearance, importers should adhere to specific requirements:

  1. Value Limit: The declared value of the shipment must not exceed $800, including shipping and insurance costs.
  2. Personal Use: Section 321 is typically intended for personal use, and multiple shipments to the same recipient on the same day may be aggregated for valuation purposes.
  3. Excluded Goods: Certain categories of goods, such as tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, are excluded from Section 321 benefits and may be subject to separate regulations and duties.


Section 321 of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection regulations plays a crucial role in simplifying the importation of low-value shipments into the United States. Its significance extends to both businesses and individual consumers, offering a streamlined customs entry process, reduced costs, and expedited clearance for eligible goods. As e-commerce continues to thrive and international trade evolves, Section 321 is expected to remain a fundamental element in facilitating the flow of goods across borders. Importers should stay informed about customs regulations, including any changes to Section 321, to maximize its benefits and navigate the complexities of international trade efficiently.

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