Cheapest way to ship jewelry from India to US (Jaipur to Boston)?
February 1, 2011 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Cheapest way to ship jewelry from India to the US (Jaipur to Boston)?

I've been remotely helping my mother, who lives in the Boston area, start a fledgling jewelry business, and she is at the point of ordering individual samples from manufacturers.

The rates they're charging to make one initial sample are more or less okay, but the rates they are quoting for the payment transaction + shipping + tax fees are extremely high, ranging from $60 to over $100.

Countless payment + shipping options exist, and neither my mother nor myself, having no 'business experience' with or connections in India, have any idea what the overall cheapest option(s) would be.

If anyone from the US has dealt with these issues, would love to hear your thoughts.

As of now, she is only ordering individual samples. Later, hopefully, she will be ordering larger quantities of pieces, perhaps even in the hundreds.

posted by cotesdurhone to Travel & Transportation (1 answer total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'll start off with an apology if I answer everything but what you want to know, or mistakenly assume that you don't already know the following. I've seen lots of new importers get blindsided by costs that they had no idea would be their responsibility when they ordered goods from overseas, and it sucks every time.

The cheapest shipping for individual jewelry items will likely be through an international courier like FedEx or DHL. But an importer usually has to pay for more than just the shipping costs. There may be customs duties to pay, a fee to a customs broker if you're not able to make entry yourself, insurance depending on the value of the jewelry, and any number of other parties to pay depending on the terms of sale. It sounds like the $60-$100 quotes might be all inclusive, meaning delivered duty paid to her in Boston. Typically that would be a DHL/UPS/FedEx shipment, and would include the shipping charges, possibly some insurance, any export fees there may be in India, any import duty due in the US, and the courier's brokerage fee. For single pieces/samples, that's probably going to be the easiest way to do it, if not necessarily the absolute cheapest. You could possibly trim costs by trying to do some of the legwork yourself or using a local customs broker who can get you better rates than what the seller can offer. $60 actually seems like it may be on the low end of an all inclusive quote, but it's hard to tell with so many variables for different items/values/etc. Whatever you do, make sure you know exactly what you are paying for before agreeing to anything. Chances are an exporter who wants your business will not deliberately screw you over, and will have relationships with shipping agents who can get their merchandise delivered to you at a reasonable cost. But if you do not clearly define the terms of the sale you could also just as easily end up paying for "shipping" only to find your goods held up in customs until you pay the "importing" and "delivering" charges, and by the time you get all that sorted out you may find that there are additional "storage" charges to pay. If everything is not specifically included in the quote you accept, there's a good chance it will be become due and payable when the goods arrive in the US.

It might be a good idea to look at CBP's Tips for New Importers and Exporters, familiarize yourself with the Incoterms that are used to define the specific responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international transactions, and perhaps build a relationship with a local customs broker if you are going to be a regular importer. For reference, here's chapter 71 of the CBP's Harmonized Tariff Schedule, which covers and gives the specific duty rates* for most (but not all) types of jewelry. Making sense of all that gobbledygook is one of the valuable services a customs broker can provide. Down the road, when you're ordering hundreds of pieces at a time, it would be good to have a relationship with a freight forwarder who might have access to better negotiated shipping rates than what the sellers can offer and/or a customs broker who can handle all the potential pitfalls of the import process.

*some goods from India have been eligible for duty-free GSP treatment, but as of right now that program has expired. It is expected to be reinstated this year.
posted by Balonious Assault at 10:18 PM on February 1, 2011

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