Importing handbags and backpacks from China to the US

China is the world’s leading producer of handbags, backpacks, and similar accessories. The rising quality of products and their competitive prices are among the main factors that lead American importers to source from China. Various types of bags are one of the most necessary product categories, and the US handbag market is growing at a pace of around 4.5% annually. In this article, we give some tips on importing handbags & backpacks from China to the US.

Handbags and backpacks production areas in China

Currently, Guangzhou is the most popular place for manufacturing handbags and backpacks. It is where the most advanced factories and qualified workers within this field are based. Additionally, Guangzhou is one of China’s most important harbor cities, which makes it even more favored by importers. Another major production area for bags and backpacks is Quanzhou. These two cities are by far the most influential in the field, but cities such as Shaoyang, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Dongguan, Wenzhou, Jinhua, and Qingdao are also noteworthy.

When it comes to leather goods, the main production areas include Guangdong province, Beijing, Shanghai, and Fujian province.

handbags and backpacks from China to the US

Tariffs on handbags and backpacks imported from China

Payment of customs duty is an obligation of every importer buying products from China. Harmonized Tariff Schedule System provided by the United States International Trade Commission can help you verify the current rates. If you are new to the system, read the HTS guide. Below, we present a list of sample products and tariff rates:

  • Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels, and similar containers:
    • 4202.11.00.00 – with outer surface of leather or of composition leather – 8%
    • 4202.12.21.00 – with outer surface of plastics – 20%
    • 4202.12.40.00 – with outer surface of cotton – 6.3%
    • 4202.12.81.00 – with outer surface of artificial fibers – 17.6%
  • Handbags, whether or not with shoulder strap, including those without handle:
    • 4202.21.60.00 – with outer surface of leather or of composition leather, valued not over $20 each – 10%
    • 4202.22.15.00 – with outer surface of sheeting of plastics – 16%
    • 4202.22.45.00 – with outer surface of cotton – 6.3%
    • 4202.22.81.00 – with outer surface of artificial fibers – 17.6%
  • Travel, sports, and similar bags (including backpacks):
    • 4202.91.10.30 – with outer surface of leather or of composition leather – 4.5%
    • 4202.92.15.00 – with outer surface of cotton – 6.3%
    • 4202.92.31.20 – backpacks with outer surface of artificial fibers – 17.6%.

As you can see, customs duty on most handbags and backpacks imported to the US from China ranges from around 4% up to 20%, mainly depending on the materials used in production. Generally speaking, the more natural the fabric, the lower the duty rate. Since there are tens of subcategories within the broad category of handbags & backpacks, it is best to search for a specific product of interest in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.

When sourcing products from China, you have to take the “China tariff” into account. It is usually a 25% of additional duty to the existing one (for all the subheadings mentioned above).

Another important fact is that you need a customs bond to import merchandise to the US in most cases (all commercial imports valued at $2500 and more).

Importing handbags and backpacks from China to the US – regulations

Product quality and safety are essential, especially since the importer, not the Chinese manufacturer, is legally responsible for complying with various rules. There are three main areas of handbags & backpacks safety that importers must pay close attention to:

1. Textiles and leather labeling

Handbags and backpacks made of textiles must carry a permanent textiles label covering such information as fiber composition, care instructions, and importer/manufacturer information.

Leather products, in turn, should feature relevant information on the type of leather (e.g., natural leather or PU leather, which is an imitation) according to the Federal Trade Commission’s labeling guide.

If you want to ensure a leather product’s high quality and endurance, you can also use the ASTM standards in product development or testing. Those are not compulsory; however, they help to gauge color, material, and capacity performance.

2. Children’s bags & backpacks

Children’s products distributed in the US are subject to rigorous requirements, handbags and backpacks being no exception. According to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) definition, children’s products are designed for 12-year-olds and younger children. It means that handbags, backpacks, and other similar products intended for children are subject to CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) compliance.

Within these rules, children’s bags, regardless of the materials used, must be lab-tested by a CPSC-accepted third-party laboratory. Additionally, the importer must issue a Children Product Certificate (CPC) and attach a CPSIA tracking label.

3. General regulations concerning the usage of certain substances

Besides the requirements mentioned above, all products distributed in the US should also meet the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) standards for using hazardous substances, such as phthalates, lead, and formaldehyde, among others. It also concerns product packaging – in many states, the packaging must not contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. The only way to ensure that a product is safe for customers is to test it via laboratory, even if testing is not obligatory.

Even more requirements are in force in California – according to California Proposition 65, numerous hazardous substances cannot be used in consumer products.

Import documents

Some essential rules apply to every product entering the United States. One of the importer’s obligations is completing the mandatory import documentation, including:

  • Commercial Invoice issued by the seller
  • Packing List
  • Freight Bill (Bill of Lading, B/L for sea freight or Air Waybill AWB for air freight)
  • Entry Manifest (CBP Form 7533).

Ensure that you have a set of accurately issued import documents allowing the cargo to pass through customs clearance, including the relevant compliance certificates. Remember that almost all the imported merchandise in the US (including handbags & backpacks) must have an affixed COO label (Country of Origin).

Importing handbags & backpacks from China to the US – what should you avoid?

One domain that requires an importer’s particular attention is designer products. Original items by famous brands can be found in China; however, low prices should always be a warning sign. Importing replica purses, handbags, and backpacks is unreasonable, as border authorities will probably seize such objects.

Importing replicas and counterfeit goods violates Intellectual Property Rights and, as such, is an illegal action. However, many importers are still deceived by the low prices offered by some Chinese factories. In the US, handbags and wallets top the list of items seized by the US Customs and Border Protection, making up around 17% of all confiscated items.

Handbags & backpacks trade shows in China

In addition to searching for suppliers on e-commerce platforms, visiting trade shows is a great way to find a business partner and check the product quality on-site. It is especially important if you plan to cooperate directly with a manufacturer or to import tailor-made products. In China, there are various trade shows dedicated to fashion and accessories, which are open to international visitors:

China Shanghai International Bag Expo

All China Leather Exhibition

  • Venue: Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC)
  • Website:

Fashion Accessories Trade Show

Canton Fair – Phase 3

China International Fashion Fair (CHIC)

  • Venue: Shanghai – National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC)
  • Website:

Shanghai International Bags Leather Handbags Exhibition (BLSE)

  • Venue: Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC)
  • Website:

To sum up:

  • Handbags & backpacks are popular import products that can be sourced, for example, in Guangzhou, Quanzhou, Xiamen, and many other Chinese industrial cities.
  • Customs rates on handbags & backpacks imported from China depend mainly on the material composition, ranging from around 4% to 20%.
  • There are some safety regulations in place in the US, especially regarding children’s handbags & backpacks; however, this product category is not usually evaluated as high-risk.
  • Make sure to verify your Chinese supplier!

Check other guides on importing from China to the US.