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Importing 101 - A Beginners Guide to Importing Commercial Goods into the United States

Posted by Janet Turner on May 23, 2016 2:10:05 PM


Starting an importing business requires not only jumping into commerce basics, but navigating a regularly-changing list of rules for customs, shipping, and importing. Learn the basic steps to follow when importing goods into the U.S. 

Importing Business 101 - The Basic Importing Process 

If you want your imported goods to arrive on time, and avoid a tax penalty, then you need to know the right way to bring goods into the U.S. If you follow these basic steps, you cannot go wrong: 

  1. Partner with a U.S. customs broker and give them Limited Power of Attorney - This allows the broker to act as your agent in arranging the import.
  2. Get your documentation in order - You will need a packing list, bill of lading, commercial invoice, and origin certificate. In some cases, you'll also need a NAFTA certificate and specific documentation for U.S. agencies.
  3. Get an import bond, which is necessary to clear customs, and file the Importer Security Filing.
  4. Have the shipping arrangements completed.

Customs officers review goods then officially allow them U.S. entry. These officials may require extra documentation from new importers. Having proper, detailed documentation is essential. Too many goods get held up in customs due to improper, incomplete, or poor paperwork. Working with a customs broker streamlines the customs process for you, relieving stress associated with starting an import business. Since any delays in the process can impact your inventory, it's important that you partner with trustworthy customs brokers and freight forwarding companies

Working with Freight Forwarding Companies - What You Need to Know 

Freight forwarding companies make sure your goods move from the country of origin to your country. They act as the middlemen between importers, exporters, and shippers. 

As a new importer, you may wonder why you even need to work with a freight forwarding company. Wouldn't it be cheaper to arrange the shipping yourself? In reality, no. The freight forwarders have a network of relationships with overland and overseas shippers. They can coordinate loads with other clients to get your goods to you faster. 

Shippers have great relationships with freight forwarders, since they want to retain their business. As a result, you will often get faster and more reliable service when you rely on the freight forwarder to arrange item transit. 

While you hate to think about it, sometimes things do go wrong. Freight forwarding companies can track down a missing load of goods and set things right. They offer versatile, flexible service and are pros at solving problems and passing savings on to you. As you can see, it's better for your business to partner with freight forwarders than to try to go it alone. 

Importing your first shipment of goods may be confusing, so take the time to follow each step carefully. Each time you go through the process, it will get easier and you will be more comfortable with importing goods through customs. 


Topics: Freight forwarding, Logistics, Corporate Relocation Services, importing

Janet Turner

Written by Janet Turner

Janet Turner is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Accelerated International Forwarders.

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