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.
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%.
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.