Importing Goods

Importing GoodsWhen you import goods and services, you can not only fulfill recognized needs in the US, it can help you open new doors for your business. You need to do the proper research regarding rules and regulations. They are strict, not following them can be costly. There are assistance programs and online data to help you have an informed and smooth importing process.

Basic Information for Importing

If you’re looking to start an importing business, you can find rules at the website for US Customs and Border Protection website http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/basic_trade/. Here, you can find help with basic importing information, including tips and requirements as well as information about importing motor vehicles, medications/drugs, and internet purchases.

You can also search the site for importing specific products such as: agricultural products, automobiles, chemicals, defense products, food/beverage products, industrial goods, or pharmaceutical goods.

Another helpful site is the International Trade Commission Tariff Data site, http://dataweb.usitc.gov/. This is a searchable database which will have the most current tariff and trade data for specific products.

The US Census Bureau Import Statistics site has a checklist that a small business owner should review if they’re thinking about selling imported goods. You can access the site by going to http://www.census.gov/econ/overview/mt0100.html

Another site is the Department of Agriculture website, to find out the regulations and policies regarding food imports to insure proper packaging. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/Import_Information/index.asp

Working with Customs Brokers

Licensed customs brokers can be a valuable asset to your import business plan. These are private individuals, partnerships, associations or corporations that are licensed, regulated and empowered by US Customs and Border Protection to assist importers in meeting Federal imports requirements.

Working with a customs broker for importers is similar to working with a freight forwarder for an exporter. Customs brokers work on their client’s behalf, and are involved in the preparation of documents, electronic submissions, and the calculation and payment of taxes, duties and excises. The communication between the importer and the government is facilitated by the broker. Licensed brokers must have expertise in entry procedures, admissibility requirements, classification, valuation, and the rates of duty and applicable taxes and fees for imported merchandise.

There are a few sources to help find information regarding brokers. One is the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America. It can be found at http://ncbfaa.org/. Another is The “Customs Brokers” section of the Transportation and Logistics Guide includes licensing requirements and importing procedures that apply to custom brokers. Another good source to help find a licensed broker is the International Federation of Customs Brokers, the IFCBA, can be found at www.ifcba.org. It has a directory of customs brokers from around the world, by map or alphabetical listing.

Assistance and Training for Small Businesses

If you are a small business interested in importing, the federal government provides advice and seminars. The SBDC, Small Business Development Center can provide you with assistance for import businesses and has fee-based seminars. SCORE has workshops and in-person advice from volunteer counselors across the nation. The US Customs and Border Protection can assist you from any of the CBP offices in international trade, trade relations, or brokers. The International Trade Administration Services has import services including counseling and a program/partner search.


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