Importing Music Equipment

Musical instruments like guitar gear, drums, guitar pedals, violins, piano and others are made in many different countries. Sometimes you’ll have to import them from a certain country due to certain circumstances. One of the most important thing to consider when importing music equipment is the tax rate and this varies depending on different factor like the country of origin, instrument type, instrument price and the material used to create the instrument. Keep in mind that the import tax is applied when shipping instruments into the United States or if you carry the instrument with you when travelling to other countries.

Let’s see some of the factors that affects the import tax rate applied to your music equipment.

Origin Country

Import tax rate is dictated from the country where the musical equipment was purchased or manufactured. If the country has a normal trade relation with the US, expect minimal import tax rate which ranges from even zero up to six percent. The remaining few countries that doesn’t have normal trade relations with US like Cuba and North Korea will have an import tax rate of up to 40 percent.


Import tax rate is also affected by the type of instrument. The Chapter 92 in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States dictates that each instrument’s tax rate varies. One example is the grand piano which have an import tax rate of 4.7%, stringed instruments like violin has a 3.2% duty tax and brass wind instruments have 2.9%.

Tax Price

The instrument’s price converted to US dollars is where the amount of the duty tax will be calculated. No matter if two instruments are of the same type, the more expensive one will receive higher tax rate because its percentage based. In order to make this process easier, you need to have a receipt and explain how you converted the price to US dollars. It is a good idea to have a document with a currency conversion calculation and date of the calculation will make it even easier. It must include the source of the currency conversion calculation (is it from a bank, airport, website or other financial institute) along with the date of the conversion.

Antique instruments of at least 100 years old do not have any duty tax.


There are certain materials used in making music equipment that are restricted in the US or other countries. Some wood, or animal materials, especially those that came from an endangered species are protected by the US Endangered Species Act. Other instruments made from ivory, mother of pearl and tortoiseshell must have the proper paperwork that shows that it meets the ESA requirements. If you lack the required documents, they cannot be imported.

The Basis of the World’s Economy

CargoThe elementary definition of trade is the transfer of ownership of goods from one person, the seller, to another person, the buyer, for an item of value. This transfer can take place on the very smallest of scales, for instance, from one person to another. Or a transfer of vast amounts of goods can take place between multinational corporations or even nations. When two traders exchange goods, it is called a bilateral trade. When the transaction happens between more than two it is called multilateral. Trade is basically a commercial or financial transaction, although it can also be barter. The network in which trade occurs is called a market. Trade is sometimes referred to as financial transaction, barter, or commerce.

Historically, trade became a common transaction because people began to specialize. In man’s earliest history, he was responsible for acquiring or making everything he or his family used. As time progressed and needs became more complex, skills became specialized. For instance, tailors created clothing, farmers grew food, or sailors and fisherman harvested seafood. Each person concentrated on his own specialty, but needed goods that came from his neighbors, who were specialists in something else.

At first, barter was the accepted function. Bartering has been said to date back 150,000 years. Evidence suggests that, in the Stone Age, obsidian and flint were widely traded. A good example of more recent bartering might be this. A farmer might exchange a milk cow for clothes for his family. Or a gristmill owner might barter flour or grain for lanterns and wicks. In more recent eras, bartering virtually disappeared; however, it is making a comeback in some areas. As specialization increased, bartering gave way to trading money for goods and services
Trade is the most common of transactions in the world today, but it has sometimes been used as an economic weapon by one country against another. Trade sanctions have always existed in the world, with the sanctions including specific goods. In man’s earliest history, it wasn’t unheard of for one person to tell another to not do business, or trade, with a third person. With the addition of other motivating factors, trade has often been the cause of physical, as well as, economic wars. Trade sanctions continue in modern times. Trade embargos are more severe, resulting in the complete isolation of one country’s products. Many trades are taxed by local or federal government. Some countries tax both imports and exports.
Removal of trade barriers except for reasons of national security and health is the main purpose of free trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), European Free Trade Agreement, European Union and South American Community Nation. The KORUS FTA is the most economically significant bilateral free trade agreement that the United States has concluded since signing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.
The average person who seeks to buy a product is most familiar with retail trade. Retail trade is the selling of goods and merchandise from a fixed location. Some of these fixed locations are department stores, boutique, kiosks, or community markets. Retail goods are generally comprised of individual or small lots meant for direct use or consumption by the buyer. Business people are familiar with wholesale trade. Wholesale trade is sometimes defined as the buying of merchandise that is then sold to a retailer for retail trade. Wholesale trade is most prevalent in industry, commerce, professional businesses, and institutions. Wholesale trade pricing is sometimes offered to the general public, but this is not the norm.