Importing Tires into the United States

Importing Tires into the United States

Trade Talk Blog


ires are one of the most important components of your vehicle, and if you want to keep your car running smoothly, it’s important to ensure you have the right tires for each season. You can find a wide variety of tires online and at local tire stores, but if you’re planning to import tires into the U.S., there are some things you need to know.

Importing tires into the U.S. can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are many regulations and requirements that must be met before importing tires into the U.S., which is why we’ve put together this article to make importing tires easier for you.

Who regulates the importation of tires into the United States?

There are two agencies that regulate tire imports into the U.S.:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the federal agency that ensures all tires are safe for use on American roads. Tires imported into the United States must meet NHTSA standards for safety, tread wear, and other performance characteristics. So, before importing tires into the U.S., you must confirm that they comply with NHTSA requirements.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the import of tires from foreign countries into the United States. Its regulations also address other aspects of tire manufacturing and importing, such as labeling and packaging, to help ensure that consumers can make informed decisions about their purchases. So, when you order tires from an overseas supplier, they will ship them to a DOT-certified facility in the United States, where they will be inspected and approved before they can be sold here.

To keep you safe, the NHTSA and DOT have put together a guide that provides information about buying tires, tire maintenance and labeling, aging, fuel efficiency, and tire retailers.

What are the NHTSA and DOT tire requirements?

NHTSA requires that all tires be marked with a Department of Transportation (DOT) code. This DOT code consists of 8-13 letters and numbers and indicates the tire’s compliance with safety and quality standard. It identifies:

  • The tire size
  • The manufacturer’s code
  • Where the tire was manufactured
  • When the tire was manufactured (week and year)

What are the top countries to import tires from?

Many countries manufacture tires, but here are the top 10 countries that manufactured and exported tires to the USA in Q1 of 2020:

  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Canada
  • China
  • Mexico
  • Vietnam
  • Indonesia
  • Taiwan
  • Germany

It is worth noting that the number of tires imported from China has decreased significantly in recent years because Chinese tires have been persecuted by the antidumping duties of the United States.

What are the different types of tires?

For the purposes of the HTSUS and according to a document shared by the CBP, tires are split into five categories as follows:

  1. Pneumatic Tires: A flexible, hollow rubber tire that is inflated and maintains its shape by air pressure. Pneumatic tires may be of a tube type (having a separate inner tube filled with air within the body of the tire that has a construction permeable to air) or a tubeless design (constructed from coated layers and an inner coating of rubber that resists the passage of air through its constructed layers) commonly known as radial ply and standard on most cars.
  1. Retreads: These are pneumatic tires that, after inspection, have been buffed down to remove all elements of the tread. Minor damage is then repaired, a new tread is applied to the circumference with an adhesive rubber/chemical layer, and the tire is cured in a vulcanising press. Retreads are quite often used on lorries and buses as a method of saving money.
  1. Semi-pneumatic Tires: Hollow tires that are not pressurised. They are lightweight, puncture proof and provide cushioning. Semi-pneumatic tires are usually imported as an assembly with a wheel for lawnmowers, shopping carts, and wheelbarrows. Such an assembly at the time of importation would exclude the item from classification in HS Chapter 40.
  1. Solid Tires: These tires are often manufactured from solid rubber in combination with plastic compounds via moulding operations. They are typically used for lawnmowers, scooters, and many types of light industrial vehicles, carts, and trailers. Forklifts are one of the most common applications where solid tires are used.
  1. Cushion Tires: These tires are similar in construction to a solid tire but have a sealed internal air space rather than pressurised air to maintain the shape. The inner cavity is sometimes filled with layers of rubber or dense foam before being sealed.

Most tires are described by an alphanumeric tire code that is usually moulded into the sidewall of the tire. This code specifies the dimensions of the tire and other key limitations, including load-bearing ability and maximum speed.

What is the HTSUS Classification of tires?

Tires are classified in one of two headings under the HTSUS: heading 4011 for new pneumatic rubber tires or heading 4012 for used or retreaded rubber tires as well as solid (non-pneumatic) tires.

You will first need to determine whether you will import new or used/retreaded tires. From there, you can determine the subheading to determine the duty you must pay. You can either request the code from the manufacturer or have your customs broker help classify your tires for you. Determining an accurate tariff classification will enable you to pay the right import duty, and consequently, you won’t have to face unnecessary delays at the border or penalties.

Do Antidumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) apply to tires?

Yes, Antidumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) apply to tires that are imported from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

On May 24, 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced its affirmative final determinations in the Antidumping Duty (AD) investigations of Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires (PVLT) from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam and affirmative final determination in the Countervailing Duty (CVD) investigation of PVLT from Vietnam.

Will I need a bond to import tires?

Yes, you will need to purchase a customs bond to import tires into the United States to ensure that you pay CBP the assigned duties and taxes. The amount of the bond is determined by the value of the tires and other factors such as their type, size, and usage. When filing for a customs bond, ensure you have all of the necessary information available so there are no delays in getting approval from the CBP. Your customs broker can help you with that.

How GHY Can Help

At GHY, we help importers bring their products into the United States without any hassle. From checking your tires’ admissibility to preparing and filing your documentation, we’ll take the work off your shoulders. Book a meeting with one of our Trade Experts – and we’ll take it from there!


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