Importing machinery to the US

China’s machinery industry has maintained a growth rate of more than 30 percent over the past decade. Under the Made in China 2025 project, China is shifting from focusing on low-end manufacturing to high-end goods production. Relatively low tariff on machinery imports to many countries, including the US, is one of the main factors placing machinery among the top export categories of China. What should you keep in mind when importing machinery to the US?

What kinds of machinery can you import to the US?

As the world’s manufacturing hub, China offers a wide range of machinery at competitive prices. Because of the complicated production process and need for specific natural resources, importing machinery to the US is more profitable than producing it in the country. One kind of commonly imported machinery is tractors. Besides, the machinery types widely imported to the US include:

  • Injection molding machines
  • 3D printers
  • Printing and packing machinery
  • Roll-forming machines
  • Welding machines
  • Laser-cutting machines
  • Food production and agriculture machines
  • Wheel loaders
  • CNC machines.

Growth sectors include industrial robotics, advanced machine tools, and agricultural machinery. If you are still searching for a supplier, you can find many on the Chinese B2B platforms, such as Alibaba, Global Sources, and Made in China, or during trade exhibitions, which will be discussed later.

Where is machinery in China produced?

The leading Chinese production area for machines and machine parts is the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, where most machinery manufacturers are located. Jiangsu and Shandong provinces are also leaders in the sector. Smaller but also important production hubs include Guangdong and Henan provinces. In addition to southeast China, this sector is also developing in the northeast regions, such as Jilin and Liaoning provinces.

Importing machinery to the US from China map

Tariffs on machinery imported to the US

Payment of customs duty is one of the obligations of every importer. Harmonized Tariff Schedule System set up by the United States International Trade Commission enables verifying the current rates, which may change over time. Most machinery is included in Chapter 84. Below, we present a list of tariff rates on machinery imported to the US:

  • 8420.10.00.00 – Calendering or other rolling machines – 0%-3.5%
  • 8422.30.00.00 – Machinery for filling, closing, sealing or labeling bottles, cans, boxes, bags or other containers; machinery for capsuling bottles, jars, tubes and similar containers; machinery for aerating beverages – 0%
  • 8424.82.00.00 – Agricultural or horticultural appliances – 2.4%
  • 8427.10.00.00 – Self-propelled fork-lift trucks powered by an electric motor – 0%
  • 8429.19.00.00 – Bulldozers and angledozers – 0%
  • 8429.52.10.00 – Backhoes, shovels, clamshells and draglines – 0%
  • 8430.20.00.00 – Snowplows and snowblowers – 0%
  • 8432.00.00.00 – Agricultural, horticultural or forestry machinery for soil preparation or cultivation; lawn or sports ground rollers; parts thereof – 0%
  • 8434.10.00.00 – Milking machines – 0%
  • 8435.00.00.00 – Presses, crushers and similar machinery, used in the manufacture of wine, cider, fruit juices or similar beverages; parts thereof – 0%
  • 8443.11.00.00 – Offset printing machinery, reel-fed – 3.3%
  • 8454.00.00.00 – Converters, ladles, ingot molds and casting machines, of a kind used in metallurgy or in metal foundries, and parts thereof – 0%
  • 8459.00.00.00 – Machine tools (including way-type unit head machines) for drilling, boring, milling, threading or tapping by removing metal – 3.3%-4.2%
  • 8467.00.00.00 – Tools for working in the hand, pneumatic, hydraulic or with self-contained electric or nonelectric motor, and parts thereof – 0%-4.5%
  • 8467.22.00.00 – Saws – 0%.

Many types of machinery imported to the US are free of duty. If a duty applies, it is usually quite low, especially compared to goods such as clothes, footwear, etc. It is one of the reasons why importing machinery is so popular. However, due to the nature of current trade relations between the USA and China, an additional duty might apply. China additional tariff is 7.5% and 25%, depending on the product.

Importing machinery to the US – documentation

As your merchandise reaches the port of entry in the US, you have to file the necessary documents within five days. The required documentation includes:

  • Commercial Invoice issued by the exporter
  • Packing List including crucial information about the shipment
  • Freight Bill (Bill of Lading, B/L for sea freight or Air Waybill AWB for air freight)
  • EPA form 3520-21 (for all machines with engines)
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Customs bond
  • Entry Manifest (CBP Form 7533).

You will also need to file the Import Security Filing for maritime transport, known as “10+2”. It is required for all goods arriving in the US by ship. Moreover, since virtually all machinery requires certification of one kind or another, a complete documentation set will also include compliance documentation such as test reports, etc.

Machinery compliance in the US

Since different types of machinery are used in workplaces, often generating a lot of power or with sharp elements, it is crucial to ensure safety. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) governs machinery compliance. You can find the regulations concerning specific types of machinery on the official website.

Depending on the construction and purpose of a particular machine, it may also be subject to the National Fire Prevention Association, the Federal Communications Commission, the Instrument Society of America, or the Robotics Industry of America regulations.

You should never assume that a machine imported from China will comply without checking all the documents since both countries’ safety norms may vary significantly. That is why it is crucial to verify the documents sent by the manufacturer and conduct quality checks at different stages of production. In most cases, you will also need test reports to prove compliance with specific standards.

Moreover, machinery orders usually equal substantial expenses, making it a high-risk category for fraud. To ensure that a given company exists and is credible, have due diligence conducted.

Machinery trade shows in China

Trade shows are an excellent opportunity to discover manufacturers and their offers. Choosing a machinery supplier is especially worthwhile since you might want to check all the functions in person. There are plenty of machinery trade fairs in China:

  • China (Tianjin) International Equipment & Manufacturing Industrial Expo

Venue: Tianjin Meijiang Conference & Exhibition Center


Profile: various exhibition areas showcase robots, machine tools, automation, and automotive equipment, among others

  • China International Equipment Manufacturing Exposition

Venue: Shenyang International Exposition Center, Shenyang


Profile: the event features metal cutting machines, metal forming machines, mechanical tools, and special equipment

  • Central China Equipment Manufacturing Exposition

Venue: Zhengzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre


Profile: a leading trade fair covering many types of equipment, from machine tools to plastic manufacturing machinery

  • CIAME Exhibition

Venue: Qingdao International Convention Center, Qingdao


Profile: the most significant agricultural machinery exhibition

  • Beijing International Construction Machinery Exhibition & Seminar

Venue: New China International Exhibition Center, Beijing / National Convention and Exhibition Center (Tianjin)


Profile: this event is an opportunity to explore the world’s largest market for construction and mining machinery

  • Qingdao International Machine Tool Exhibition

Venue: Qingdao International Convention Center


Profile: the trade show features such goods as welding equipment, machine tools, cutting machines, marine equipment, manufacturing equipment, and much more

  • China (Qingdao) Power Transmission & Control Technology Exhibition

Venue: Qingdao International Convention Center


Profile: the vendors offer machinery such as chemical processing equipment, construction and mining machinery, logging equipment, electrical machinery, and more

To sum up: