A Simple Guide to Import Into The USA
The United States of America is the third-populous country in the world (just after China and India) with a population of more than 325 million people. This federal republic is also the largest economy in the world and New York is the second, right after London, worldwide finance center. Next, to highly developed investment banking, USA pays attention to the armaments industry, cars production or computer industry. Almost everybody knows the names of companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Johnson, and Johnson or Motorola. What is more, the United States of America is the biggest food producer in the world – it grows mainly corns, wheat, soy, and potatoes. The country has a good run in tourism too – in 2015 the USA was the most keenly visited country in a global perspective.
1. How to import to the USA?
We are able to write a single article about economy, history or industries of the United States of America but in this guide, we would rather focus on American import and export procedure. Why? The USA is the largest importer and the second biggest exporter of goods on a global scale. More and more people think about starting to import into America but in many cases, they don’t know enough about imports license or goods which are worth to be imported. Let’s look at all necessary information – maybe it would shock you into making business connected with imported products.
2. USA – the biggest global importer
As we mentioned the United State of America is the largest importer in the world. It is the main importer of Indian and Chinese products. If you are wondering what does California import (or USA in general) look at the list below:
- Electrical machinery and equipment
- Machinery (e.g. computers)
- Mineral fuels
- Medical apparatus
- Plastic articles
- Organic chemicals
Of course, not every single state would be interested in importing the same kind of goods. For example, Texas focuses on crude, Florida on patrol and South Carolina on aircraft parts.
In the light of data from 2016, the value of import was $ 2,12T and in this year the most popular imported goods were: automobiles, petroleum oils and transmission apparatus. Next, to China and Japan, the USA imported on a big scale also from Mexico, Canada, and Germany. Naturally, there are more trade partners, for example, exporters from India to the USA who specialized in trading herbs or semi-precious stones.
There are thousands of importers in the USA which do businesses with another foreign entrepreneur towards finding cheap articles or products with unique quality and functions. Wal-Mart Stores is a retail giant company in the US which is an example of the biggest importer of consumer goods in the country. This retail corporation in 2015 imported over 795,900 TEUs from China, India and another foreign exporter.
3. Export items from the USA
Although the USA is the second largest exporters of products, its value of export is greatly lower than import. In 2016 this country exported $1.32T – this, in return, gives a negative trade balance. What is more, the fun fact is the main countries, which the United States of America imported from, are also the top destinations for exporting products! We can point to Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
If you are thinking about exporting to Mexico from the US but you don’t know what exactly wins over the hearts of people from other countries, there are a short list of major export items in the US :
- Planes, helicopters or spacecraft.
- Refined petroleum.
- Vehicle parts.
- Packaged medicaments.
- Aircraft parts.
- Medical Instruments.
- Integrated Circuits.
- Human or animal blood.
The USA is still developing in many sectors of industries. It is no wonder that American companies such as Apple, Chevron, Ford Motor or Intel are the leaders of exported products and presented names are known all over the world.
4. Why trading with the USA is possible?
Maybe you know yourself around import food into the USA but have you ever wonder why cooperating with other countries is possible?
Firstly, the United States of America is one of the member states of many international organizations. It is needed to an emphasis on World Trade Organization (WTO) – a result of trade liberalization which manages issues connected with global trading. This group of 164 member states reviews reports, analysis, and trade policies of several countries and upholds main principles such as non-discrimination and safety values of trading.
For another thing, the US is a party to many worldwide free-trade agreements which regulate import and export laws, e.g. the Chile-United States Free Trade Agreement or North American Free Trade Agreement. The USA is also in the middle of the negotiation process with the European Union, Thailand, New Zealand or Indonesia. In addition to this type of agreements, the USA is a party to many bilateral investment treaties which protects private investments and promote exports from the federal republic.
5. How to sell imported goods in the USA?
Keeping in mind all mentioned information about the top of trade partners and the most popular goods which are imported or exported from the USA it is the time to concentrate on more practice operations such as import and export license or exportation taxes.
5.1 Only legal merchandise
Before we start trading in goods from another country we need to be sure that imported things are permitted in the USA. There are an array of regulations about legality and standards of products which must be obeyed. We can even point a special institution – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which is responsible for safety and control and handles also export things. In the case of CBP, it isn’t necessary to have any import license which will be required by this agency but does not forget about that certification because other offices would check it surely. CBP would ask you for customs assigned number which is your IRS business registration number but if you do not acquire it, the social security number would be acceptable.
Even if we got to know all about imported kind of products and we are sure that it is permitted, the legal entry wouldn’t be fully accepted without arrival the goods within the proper port of entry, authorization by CBP and settlement of duty. In a case of unawareness and any question with regard to commodities of import permit you are obliged to contact particular departures – CBP comes forward and has prepared a special list of addresses and phone numbers for these offices.
5.2 Pay attention to the package
It seems to be a long process but you are able to speed it up. Do not forget to pack your goods in a proper way, it means you should invoice the products in a systematic manner, list the quantity of several categories of goods in each packet and put numbers on it. In some cases, you can face the situation when your entire shipment would be examined – for example, because of the suspicion of drug traffic or disorganized way of packing.
5.3 Remember about the standards!
Your product would not be put on the market unless you satisfy some conditions. If you wonder e.g. how to import food to the USA keep in mind that articles must be marked with the English name of the origin. It is required because Americans should have information about the country merchandise comes from – in this case, they would choose consciously.
Safety first! If any foreign importer deals in toys and other articles for children under the age of three, it is not allowed to import playthings with small parts which present choking hazards.
Some of you may be interested in importing distilled spirits or wine. In that case, you must follow the rules of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act which is administered by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. This agency is entitled to prohibit false or misleading statements or examine the label on alcohol product that shows only true information about the quality of the article. All necessary details with regard to permitting are placed in a website of the mentioned bureau.
6. Import and export license
Naturally, in some cases, you might be obliged to have special import-export licenses. There is a special catalog of products which need a permit to import into the USA. When it comes to export license – it isn’t required generally. Let’s scratch beneath the surface of import-export license application details and make sure you would do it in a proper way.
6.1 How to get an import license?
If you handle with goods on your own account you do not have to have any import license, but in the situation you authorize a broker to act on behalf, the Customs Broker license is required. It is issued by mentioned before CBP and involves both individuals and companies. Import license application consists of a US Customs Broker License Exam (you must pass it for 75% at least). What is more – you have to be US citizen over 21-year-old. In the event of companies and partnerships, at least one member of the entity must be a broker.
Customs Broker license is not the only kind of permit. U.S. Customs and Border Protection may not require a typical license but you are obliged to fill special entry documents such as Entry Manifest, Immediate Delivery, Application Permit Special License, confirmation of the right to entry or invoice (commercial or pro forma type). Your import number is essential in every kind of form you need to fill in. For the record – it is your IRS business registration number or Social Security number.
All of the necessary forms are available on the website of CBP – everything depends on the kind of goods which would be transported.
6.2 How to get export license?
What is an export license? It is a kind of permit to hold export transactions of some types of goods which is issued by the proper licensing office. On the whole, an export license is required only for an insignificant part of products but it is you who must control it. Website of CBP points out special departments which wish this special exporter certificate, for example, the Department of Commerce would require Dual Use License in cases of a security threat or crime control.
So, do I need an export license? This question may arise in your head. In 95 percent of cases the answer is: No, you don’t. But keep in mind that all your products must go under export control regulations!
If you are obliged to have export licenses, the numbers of it must be put in all key documentation, e.g. Commercial Invoice. In general export license application is generated by the special on-line licensing system – BIS SNAP-R Exporter Web Application. Firstly, you would register your entity and get a special company identification number (CIN) – all of these operations are free.
All in all, everything depends on the type of items – just like in importing license. Although the majority of products don’t need to be confirmed by a license you should ensure if your items do belong to this group.
We know the most popular names of import-export companies which are known all over the world. Of course, there are thousands of businesses which deals in importing things. The process should not start anything as long as we would be following the right procedure. Remember about importing only legal goods and make sure that you would not be required to have a special entry permit. Luckily, US policy let you resolve doubts – on the website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection you can find all necessary information about items and agencies’ details. So maybe it’s the time to join to all export and import leaders? Everything’s up to you.
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