Importing and exporting goods is a greats way to expand your business and take part in the global economy. In fact, companies that do business internationally grow faster and fail less often than companies that don't. If you are ready to get started in international trade, there are a number of government programs to help you get started. Also, there are strict regulations on importing and exporting goods, so it is critical that you understand which of these regulations apply to you.
The following pages provide information on what you need to know about importing and 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.
Breaking Into the Trade Game : A Small Business Guide to Exporting
A guide for businesses interested in expanding their business in international markets.
Basic Guide to Exporting
Details plans for developing, marketing, and exporting products and services. Published by the Department of Commerce and Unz & Co.
A primer to help you assess your business' export readiness, understand what you need to know and consider before pursuing an international sales strategy, and, when you are ready, develop and implement your export strategy.
Exporter's Guides to Trade Agreements
A list of all trade agreements affecting U.S. businesses in the international marketplace.
International Trade : Online Courses
Free courses on exporting and doing business 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.
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.
Advocacy Assistance for U.S. Exporters: What You Need to Know
The U.S. Dept of Commerce's Advocacy Center has helped hundreds of U.S. companies--small, medium and large enterprises--in various industry sectors win government contracts across the globe.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency : Info for U.S. Exporters
Find out about current contracting opportunities with USTDA grant recipients in host countries.
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.
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.
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.
How to Obtain Export Financing
How to obtain U.S. government financing to expand or develop export markets.
Information for businesses interested in importing goods into the U.S.
Learn about trade agreements and how to report barriers to fair trade.
Learn about conducting business abroad, and find resources and paperwork for you and your business partners overseas.
Importing/Exporting Specific Products
Information on the import and export of specific products regulated by federal agencies.