Importing goods and services is a unique way to fulfill recognized needs in the U.S. and can help you open new doors for your business. However, there are stringent rules and regulations governing importing, and doing so without proper research can be costly. There are assistance programs and online data to help you have an informed and smooth importing process.
The following resources are starting points for learning how to import products and services.
Customs and Border Protection’s Importing Basic Info
Basic importing information page, including tips and requirements. Also provides information about importing motor vehicles, medications/drugs, and internet purchases.
Importing Specific Products
A resource guide for importing agricultural products, automobiles, chemicals, defense products, food/beverage products, industrial goods, or pharmaceutical goods.
International Trade Commission Tariff Data
Searchable database on the most current tariff and trade data for specific products.
U.S. Census Bureau Import Statistics
Detailed statistics on goods and estimates of services entering the US from foreign countries.
Selling Imported Goods within the U.S.
Checklist that a small business owner should review when thinking about selling imported goods.
Starting a Business in the U.S. as a Foreign National
Online resources and tax information for those without U.S. citizenship or residency looking to start a business in the U.S.
Department of Agriculture Import Regulations and Policies
Policies and regulations that ensure that imported meat, poultry and egg products imported into the U.S. are safe, properly labeled, and properly packaged.
Working with a licensed customs broker could be a valuable asset to your import plan. Customs brokers are private individuals, partnerships, associations or corporations licensed, regulated and empowered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assist importers and exporters in meeting Federal imports requirements.
A customs broker works with importers similar to a freight forwarder who works with exporters. On behalf of their client, customs brokers are involved in the preparation of documents and electronic submissions, as well as the calculation and payment of taxes, duties and excises. The customs broker also facilitates communication between the importer and the government. Licensed brokers must have expertise in the entry procedures, admissibility requirements, classification, valuation, and the rates of duty and applicable taxes and fees for imported merchandise. For this advice and involvement, the customs broker charges the importer a fee.
Transportation and Logistics Guide: Customs Brokers
The ‘Customs Brokers’ section of this guide includes licensing requirements and importing procedures that apply to custom brokers.
National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America
Search NCBFAA’s membership directory of customs brokers by city, state, member name, or specific industry.
International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations.
Search IFCBA’s directory of customs brokers from around the world, by map or alphabetical listing.
Assistance and Training
The federal government provides advice and seminars to small businesses interested in importing.
Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Provides assistance for import businesses and fee-based seminars. Use the map to find a branch near you.
Provides online workshops and in-person advice from over 12,400 volunteer counselors across the nation. Use the search tool to find help near you.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Contacts
Contact information to find assistance from any of CBP's offices in international trade, trade relations, and brokers.
International Trade Administration (ITA) Services
ITA's import services including counseling and a program/partner search.