Import License: Taking Baby Steps

The United States is one of the few countries that do not ask for a license to import. A large number of products are imported freely with no limitations. Most other countries require import permits and place many restrictions items. Therefore you must think whether your target country needs a permit for your product and, if so, how to get one. Follow these steps and you should be on the right path.

Ask your supplier for guidance

Hopefully, you trust your supplier since it is the shipper’s responsibility to comply with government regulations within each country. This means you should ask your supplier—at the beginning of your negotiations—if an import permit is required. Next you should ask if they can assist you in obtaining one. This strategy almost always works. Think about it: If your product can’t enter the country, both you and your supplier won’t get paid.

Ask for a statement in writing from your supplier that he/she is solely responsible for making sure that the product you are importing complies with the importing country’s laws and regulations. Look for how long the import permit is valid and understand all the conditions; if you are sued due to one of the products violating the country’s laws and regulations, the supplier should indemnify you.

You should always work with an international lawyer well versed in the laws of the import country which reduces your exposure.

Contact UPS, FedEx of DHL for help

Large global transportation companies can ship your products to any country and help with the necessary documentation required for customs clearance. More importantly, they can get your stuff to you fast and cheap. Essentially, they are your customs broker usually know all of pertinent laws and regulations.

Check with the local government’s international trade administration office to determine whether you need an import license and how to get one.

A quick search via the name of the import country along with the words “import permit” provide supplemental information which can be used in conjunction with the big global transportation companies.