Get Started in Exporting
Doing business internationally may seem overwhelming at first, however, there are a number of government programs that offer training, counseling, and financial assistance to small businesses wanting to export their products and services.
The following resources are starting points for learning how to start exporting your products and services overseas.
The federal government offers free in-person counseling services to help small business obtain export financing and locate business opportunities overseas.
- U.S. Export Assistance Centers
Located in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., these centers provide small and medium-sized businesses with local, personalized export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations.
- Contact a Trade Specialist
The U.S. Commercial Service provides a network of export and industry specialists located in over 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries. These professionals provide free counseling and a variety of products and services to assist small and midsized U.S. businesses export their products and services.
- USTDA Consultant Database for Small Businesses
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency provides this database of companies and individuals providing fee-based consulting services to small business interested in importing and exporting.
Finding Business Opportunities
If you are looking to bid on overseas contracts, grants or business opportunities, there are a few programs available to help you with your bid.
Export Controls and Licenses
Most export transactions do not require specific approval in the form of licenses from the U.S. government, although regulations regarding all exports must be followed. To determine whether a license is needed to export a particular commercial product or service, an exporter must first classify the item by identifying what is called an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) for the item. Several other federal agencies have specific export licensing requirements.
For general information on export licensing and regulations, visit Export.gov - Regulations and Licenses
The following resources provide further information on export controls and licensing:
- Export Controls and Licensing Requirements : An Introduction
This page is designed to give people who are new to exporting, and, in particular, new to export controls, a general understanding of the Bureau of Industry and Security regulations and how to use them.
- Export Licensing Guidance
This section is designed to assist visitors through the export licensing process and provides important information that individuals and firms need to know before exporting.
- U.S. Export Controls and Licensing : Training and Seminars
BIS offers a wide range of export control related seminars and workshops from Complying with U.S. Export Controls to training sessions for Freight Forwarders and help in initiating an Export Management System.
- U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security : Export Policies and Regulations
Provides links to regulations governing exports of dual-use items (the 'Export Administration Regulations'). This site also includes discussions of certain key regulatory policy areas, including policies governing exports of high performance computers, exports of encryption products, deemed exports, U.S. antiboycott regulations, special regional considerations, the multilateral export control regimes, and the technical advisory committees.
Exporting Technology and Intellectual Property
The exporting of technology has its own set of rules and regulations. Technology and Source Code Exports (Deemed Export Rule)
answers frequently asked questions about exporting technology and source code.
The European Commission's Directive on Data Protection prohibits the transfer of personal data to non-European Union nations that do not meet the European 'adequacy' standard for privacy protection. The Safe Harbor Portal provides assistance to U.S. companies trying to avoid interruptions in their business dealings with the European Union countries or facing prosecution by European authorities under European privacy laws.
And Stop Fakes.Gov can help you learn how to protect your intellectual property rights (copyright, trademark, patent) when doing business overseas.
Shipping Your Products Overseas
When shipping a product overseas, the exporter must be aware of packing, labeling, documentation, insurance and other requirements of the destination country. Because of the paperwork involved, most exporters rely on a third-party international freight forwarder to perform these services.
To find an international freight forwarder and learn about specific requirements for international shipping, visit Export.gov's International Logistics web site.
FAQs and Publications
The following resource provide answers to common questions about exporting overseas..
- Export Library
SBA's trade library provides information and resources to assist businesses entering and competing in the global marketplace.
- Doing Business Abroad FAQs
The U.S. State Department offers this guide to doing business in international markets. Includes frequently asked questions about doing business abroad, facilitating overseas investment, trade restrictions, and assistance for foreign companies.
- Doing Business Abroad : Avoiding Advanced Fee Scams
Provides a guidelines on how to avoid advanced fee business scams when conducting business overseas.