While there is a definite resurgence of manufacturing taking place on U.S. soil, some goods are still better or only gotten by working with foreign companies. If you’re a smaller business that’s managed to ride the slow economic rise over the past year or so, you may be wading into unfamiliar territory if you’re looking to branch out to a foreign producer for machinery or goods. The tips below can help anyone looking to import machinery or other goods for the first time.
Know Your Seller
Developing a relationship with an international producer is no different than cultivating a network of domestic producers – get to know them. Depending on the availability of a travel budget, this may mean simply getting on a first name basis with a member of the company’s sales team or jumping on a couple of Skype calls throughout the negotiation period. Work to decipher whether or not your potential new partner has prior import/export experience or if they’re new to the game as well. There’s nothing wrong with working with someone on the same experience level as you, but there are also definite advantages to finding a seasoned import/export partner for the first few go arounds.
Know the Rules
Prior to getting in too deeply, do some digging to ensure that what you’re looking to import can, in fact, be imported. The United States government sets strict rules on what can and cannot be brought into the U.S., so be sure to contact a trade specialist for any guidance. These experts can help move you through the process of determining what items are eligible for import and any tariffs or duties that may be required. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection department can also be a great help.
Look into Hiring a Customs Broker
Much like trade specialists, these professionals know all the ins and outs when it comes to bringing foreign items into the United States. For a fee, these individuals will help you track down any licenses, permits, inspections, duties or fees that may be attached to imports. They will also act as a communications liaison between the importer and the government. Click here to find a complete list of customs brokers in the United States.
As always, when in doubt you should always pause to ask questions. There’s absolutely no shame in asking for assistance from government organizations or other business owners who have experience importing goods. Asking a simple question or two can help avoid costly fines and penalties – including disappointing your customers when expected items are turned away at port.