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Exporting Basics

CHAPTER 3. Making Export Sales
  Prepare Goods for Delivery
To move the goods overseas, you'll need to pack, label, document, insure, and ship them. Some of this preparation is precautionary -- to protect the goods from damage, theft, or delay in transit. Some actions are legally required, either by the exporting or importing country. In these cases, the requirements are usually very specific and must be followed to the letter. Given the complexities and risks, most exporters use an international freight forwarder to perform these critical services.
  Packing for Export

Exported goods face greater physical risks en route than domestic shipments. They're more vulnerable to breakage, theft, and damage. At some ports, goods may still be loaded or unloaded in a net or by a sling, conveyor, chute, or other method, putting added strain on the package. In the hold, goods might be stacked on top of each other or bump sharply against other goods in transit.

Overseas, where handling facilities may not be up to domestic standards, the cargo might be dragged, pushed, rolled, or dropped. Moisture is also a danger, because cargo can be damaged by condensation, even in the hold of a ship equipped with air conditioning and a dehumidifier. The cargo also might be unloaded in the rain. Some foreign ports do not have covered storage facilities. Goods can also be stolen when inadequately protected.

Packaging tips and advice can be obtained from freight forwarders, carriers and marine insurance companies. If you're not equipped to pack the goods yourself, use a professional export packing firm. This service is usually provided at a moderate cost.

To avoid problems:

  • Use strong, reinforced boxes or crates to pack the goods. Seal and fill with lightweight, moisture-resistant material. Distribute the weight evenly to brace the container.
  • To deter theft, use strapping, seals, or shrink wrapping where possible.
  • Don't list the contents or show brand names on the outside of the packages.
  • For sea shipments, containerize your cargo whenever possible. Containers vary in size, material, and construction and are best suited for standard package sizes and shapes. Refrigerated and liquid bulk containers are readily available. If you canít fill an entire container, a freight forwarder can arrange to combine your cargo with others.
  • For air shipments, you can use lighter weight packing, but you must still take precautions. Standard domestic packing should suffice, especially if the product is durable. Otherwise, high-test cardboard or tri-wall construction boxes are more than adequate (at least 250 pounds per square inch).
Export Marking and Labeling

Export packages need to be properly marked and labeled to meet shipping regulations, ensure proper handling, conceal the identity of the contents, and help receivers identify shipments. The buyer usually specifies export marks that should appear on the cargo, such as:

  • Shipper's mark
  • Country of origin (USA)
  • Weight marking (in pounds and in kilograms)
  • Number of packages and size of cases (in inches and centimeters)
  • Handling marks (international pictorial symbols)
  • Cautionary markings, such as "This Side Up."
  • Port of entry
  • Labels for hazardous materials (universal symbols of the international Maritime Organization)

Mark containers legibly to prevent misunderstandings and delays in shipping. Letters are generally stenciled onto packages in waterproof ink. Markings should appear on three faces of the package, preferably on the top and on the two ends or the two sides. Old markings must be completely removed. Most freight forwarders can advise on specific marks and labels required by each country.


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