How to Export Products From The U.S.
Exporting products from the United States can be a complex process that involves various regulations and requirements depending on the type of product and the destination country. Here are some general steps and tips that you may find helpful:
- First, you need to determine if your product is regulated by any federal agency such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If so, you may need to obtain a license, permit, certification, or registration from that agency before exporting.
- Second, you need to check if your product is subject to any export controls or sanctions imposed by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), or the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These agencies may restrict or prohibit exports of certain goods or services to specific countries, entities, or individuals for national security or foreign policy reasons.
- Third, you need to classify your product according to its Harmonized System (HS) code and Schedule B number. These are standardized codes that identify your product for customs purposes and help determine its tariff rate and eligibility for trade agreements. You can use online tools such as the Census Bureau’s Schedule B Search Engine or BIS’s Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) Database to find these codes.
- Fourth, you need to find a reliable buyer and negotiate a sales contract that specifies the terms and conditions of your export transaction. You should also consider how you will ship your product, what payment method you will use, what insurance coverage you will need, and what documentation you will provide. You may want to consult with an experienced freight forwarder or customs broker who can assist you with these logistics.
- Fifth, you need to prepare and submit all required export documents such as commercial invoices, packing lists, bills of lading, certificates of origin, export licenses or declarations, etc. You should also comply with any labeling or packaging requirements that apply to your product in both the U.S. and the destination country. You can use online resources such as Export.gov’s Document Library or Trade Information Center to access sample documents and guidance.
Products with huge requirements from The U.S.
Some of the best products to export from the U.S. are pharmaceuticals ($83 billion), crude oil ($69 billion), industrial machines ($68 billion), semiconductors ($66 billion), petroleum products ($64 billion), cars ($54 billion), vehicle parts ($47 billion), plastic materials ($44 billion), soybeans ($26 billion), and meat ($22 billion). These products have high demand in global markets and reflect America’s competitive advantages in innovation, technology, and agriculture.
Countries to Concentrate
Some of the best countries to export from the U.S. are Canada ($218 billion), Mexico ($196 billion), China ($122 billion), Japan ($63 billion), Germany ($59 billion), United Kingdom ($51 billion), South Korea ($49 billion), Netherlands ($46 billion), Brazil ($35 billion), and France ($34 billion). These countries are among America’s top trading partners and have strong economic ties with the U.S. They also offer favorable market access conditions for U.S. exporters under various free trade agreements such as USMCA, US-China Phase One, US-Japan Trade Agreement, US-EU Mutual Recognition Agreements, etc.
A freight forwarder or customs broker is a professional who can help you with the transportation, clearance, and documentation of your export shipments. They can also advise you on the best shipping methods, routes, costs, and regulations for your products and destination countries.
There are several ways to find a freight forwarder or customs broker that suits your needs. Here are some suggestions:
You can visit the list of Customs Brokers page on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website and select your address and port to get relevant authorized ones and their information.
You can also check the member directory of the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA), which classifies customs brokers by location. In addition to finding professional customs brokers, you can also find freight forwarders.
You can also do a quick online search using keywords such as “freight forwarder”, “customs broker”, “export”, and your product or destination country. You may find websites of various companies that offer these services. You can compare their rates, reviews, credentials, and specialties.
You can also ask for recommendations from other exporters in your industry or network who have experience working with freight forwarders or customs brokers. They may be able to share their insights and feedback on different providers.
Once you have a list of potential freight forwarders or customs brokers, you should contact them and ask them some questions to evaluate their suitability for your export needs. Some of the questions you may want to ask are:
- What are their qualifications, licenses, certifications, and memberships?
- How long have they been in business and what is their track record?
- What are their fees and charges for their services?
- What are their terms and conditions of service?
- How do they communicate with their clients and what is their response time?
- How do they handle problems or disputes that may arise during the export process?
- Do they have any references or testimonials from previous clients?
Benefits of using freight forwarders
Using a freight forwarder or customs broker can have many benefits for your export business. Some of them are:
They can save you time and money by handling the complex and tedious tasks of arranging transportation, preparing documents, clearing customs, paying duties and taxes, and delivering your goods to the final destination.
They can leverage their expertise, experience, network, and resources to find the best shipping solutions for your products and destination countries. They can also advise you on the best practices, regulations, requirements, and risks involved in exporting.
They can provide you with access to better rates, services, and options by negotiating with multiple carriers and service providers on your behalf. They can also help you optimize your shipping efficiency, accuracy, safety, and sustainability.
They can act as your single point of contact for all your export needs and provide you with consistent communication, coordination, tracking, reporting, and problem-solving throughout the export process. They can also reduce confusion about liability and responsibility in case of any issues or disputes.
By using a freight forwarder or customs broker, you can focus on your core business activities and leave the export logistics to them.
Challenges and risks involved in this process
Export logistics can involve various risks that can affect your export business negatively. Some of these risks are:
- Credit risk: This is the risk of not getting paid by your buyer or getting paid late or fraudulently. You can avoid this risk by verifying the creditworthiness and reputation of your buyer, using secure payment methods, and getting credit insurance.
- Cargo loss and damage: This is the risk of losing or damaging your goods during transportation due to accidents, theft, mishandling, weather, or other causes. You can avoid this risk by packing your goods properly, choosing reliable carriers and routes, tracking your shipments, and getting cargo insurance.
- Transit risks: This is the risk of delays or disruptions in your shipments due to customs clearance, unforeseen tariffs, inspections, documentation errors, political instability, strikes, or other factors. You can avoid this risk by understanding the border control and distribution laws of your destination countries, preparing accurate and complete documents, and having contingency plans for alternative routes or modes of transportation.
- Foreign exchange risks: This is the risk of losing money due to fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the time you agree on a price with your buyer and the time you receive payment. You can avoid this risk by using forward contracts, currency options, or other hedging instruments to lock in a favorable exchange rate at the time of contract signing.
- Quality risks: This is the risk of delivering defective or substandard products to your buyer that do not meet their expectations or requirements. You can avoid this risk by ensuring quality control at every stage of production, testing, and packaging and by following international standards and certifications for your products.
- Natural calamity risks: This is the risk of facing natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, storms, or pandemics that can disrupt your supply chain or affect your market demand. You can avoid this risk by diversifying your suppliers, customers, and markets and by having business continuity plans and emergency funds to cope with unexpected situations.
By identifying and managing these risks in export logistics, you can reduce their impact on your export business.
Export logistics can involve various risks that can affect your export business negatively. However, by doing some research and planning ahead, you can avoid or mitigate these risks and ensure a smooth and successful export process.