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Comply With Trade Requirements

Exporters must comply with a host of documentary and regulatory requirement to get their goods out of their own country and into the importing country. Failure to comply has severe potential consequences. Take all requirements seriously.

Documentary Requirements: The following documents are most often required in exporting, either for each export shipment or for certain products -- US Shipper's Export Declaration, Export Packing List, Ocean Bill of Lading, Air Waybill, Dock Receipt, Warehouse Receipt, Insurance Certificate, Consular Invoice, Certificate of Origin, and Inspection Certification. All required documents must be fully and precisely completed. Given the burden and risk, most exporters use freight forwarders to handle required documentation.  

Regulatory Requirements: All countries control their exports and imports in some form. Exporters need to comply not only with their own country’s export regulations, but also the procedural requirements imposed by the importing countries.

Export controls are mainly used to prevent “denied” persons and unfriendly countries from getting certain products (strategic controls), or to prevent depletion of precious or scarce resources (short-supply controls). US export control regulations and forms are spelled out in the Department of Commerce's Export Administration Regulations . Although all US exports are technically subject to control, a formal export license is required for a small minority of total US goods exported. A product’s Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) determines whether and what type of US license is required. US exporters may ask the Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) for advice on whether a license is required, or is likely to be granted for a particular end-use, end-user, and/or destination.

Import controls. Foreign trade regulations vary widely by country. Each country has its own policies, laws, regulations, and business practices that may or may not be import-friendly.

Import duties and taxes. Free Internet sources of country-specific import duties include:

  • Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
  • Canadian Tariffs
  • FTAA Tariff Database (import duty rates in 28 Western Hemisphere countries)
  • European Union Tariff Schedule (common external tariff for all 15 EU countries)
  • APEC Tariff Database (import duty rates in 21 Pacific Rim countries
  • African Import Tariffs (import duty rates in 19 COMESA countries)
  • WTO Tariff Schedules (import duties on agricultural products in all countries)

Non-tariff barriers. You should research potential trade restrictions in each country and seek counsel from an international law firm if needed. Useful Internet sources of trade regulations by country and product include:

  • Country Commercial Guide (CCG).
  • FAS Country Import Regulations
  • Country Reports on Economic Policy & Trade Practices
  • National Trade Estimate Reports on Foreign Trade Barriers
  • Market Access Sectoral and Trade Barriers Database

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