Imports Create Opportunities

Many businesses in the United States are built on imports, and with today's global marketplace, imports provide tremendous opportunities, both for U.S. businesses and exporters in other countries. Manufacturers in every part of the world want to sell to the U.S., not only because of the size of the market, but also because the U.S. is relatively transparent regarding import regulations. But just because U.S. regulations on imports are easily accessible, it doesn't mean they're simple.

Knowledge is Power

Import compliance training is important for any company that does business internationally. When imports are not documented properly, or when they are not labeled correctly upon arrival, they can be held up by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. If problems are not addressed, shipments can be seized, auctioned, or destroyed, resulting in losses to your business and the foreign exporter you purchased the goods from. A simple import compliance audit can prevent these problems and make your international transactions run smoothly.

Keep Employees Informed

While an import compliance audit is a great way to find out where your company excels and falls short in its import operations, an audit won't do much good unless key employees are knowledgeable about import regulations. Import compliance manuals can be very valuable resources for employees who handle international transactions. The manuals, along with training, can ensure that your business avoids problems getting products through Customs, so that you can concentrate on the core aspects of your business.

CBP and Other Agencies

United States Customs and Border Protection is one agency, but it enforces rules from many other agencies. Many product categories have to meet regulations in order to legally become part of the U.S. market. A few such categories include:

• Electronics
• Toys
• Drugs
• Medical devices
• Alcoholic beverages

However, many other products you would never suspect of having to meet strict import regulations are in fact subject to them. It is never safe to assume that your imports can be shipped in and clear Customs if you have never imported them before. It is far better to find out what regulations apply before you import a product.

A Place to Start

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website is a good place to start when learning about import regulations. While it's packed with information, it can be quite a lot to take in. Many U.S. businesses that want to go international hire consultants who are experts in importing and exporting to audit their operations to see which products fall under import or export regulations, and to point out potential hazards of navigating the system. Developing import compliance manuals that are pertinent to your particular needs can prevent many problems and keep your imports coming in without problems. Today, import regulation training can take place in person or online. This means that the cost per employee can be kept low.

You don't have to be an expert on import and export regulations to run a successful international business. But if you have knowledge of the basics and enlist in highly-trained consultants to help ensure compliance with these regulations, you will put your business ahead of the competition in international commerce.

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