Expanding your business internationally can give you access to lucrative new markets. However, you also need to understand the complex laws that come with international trade. Here's what you should know before importing or exporting products overseas.
You May Have to Pay a Tariff
A tariff is a special type of tax that gets charged when a product crosses a border. The usual purpose of tariffs is for a country to give protection to its local businesses from local competitors that may have an uneven playing field due to cost advantages. The amount of the tariff is based on the specific item.
The tricky part about tariffs is that item classifications aren't always clear. This is similar to when you go to a grocery store and some items are not taxed because they are groceries and other items are taxed because they are prepared foods. In addition, a tariff can be both on a finished item and on specific parts contained within an item. You will want to work with your attorney to make sure you're declaring the correct classifications for the purposes of tariffs. If you don't, you could end up selling your products at a loss.
There May Be Packaging Requirements
When you ship products overseas, you may also have to comply with packaging requirements. This might include a special type of seal to keep the contents from being exposed to the natural environment. You may also need to include special labeling stating the country of origin of your goods. Again, requirements may vary by the type of product.
If you fail to meet the packaging requirements, your goods could be held up at customs when they reach the foreign country. If you don't meet the legal requirements, your goods could be destroyed or shipped back to you at your own expense.
Customs Can Inspect Everything
There is no privacy in international shipping. When your products enter a new country, customs can inspect everything. The first thing this means is that you need to make sure that you've worked with your attorney to follow all international laws and shipping regulations. The second thing this means is that your items may need to be repackaged before they reach the end consumer similarly to how the TSA might mess up a wrapped gift when you take a flight. If customs does take action against you, you may have a limited amount of time to appeal before the decision is final.
To learn more, contact a local customs attorney today.
If you are a business owner, there are bound to be times when you ask yourself, "is this legal?" You may have this question before you sign a certain contract, fire an employee, or set a new policy for your customers. The best person to answer this question is, of course, a business attorney. They have specific training and experience to guide business owners in making smart legal decisions. The posts on this blog are all related to business attorneys and the work that they do. We think you'll benefit from reading them, whether you own a business yourself or are thinking of getting into business law.