Here are some universal issues and procedures to consider, when looking to expand your business or services overseas.
Check governmental agencies that support and finance exporters. They include:
- International Trade Administration – trade.gov
- Trade Information Center – www.export.gov/exportbasics/ticredirect.asp
- Small Business Administration – Office of International Trade – www.sba.gov
Some tips to make your website more appealing to overseas buyers:
- Highlight your willingness to accept and deliver international orders.
- Make your website multi-language. There are many companies that provide translation expertise and software.
- List your products in multiple currencies.
- Offer information on shipping costs overseas, and the countries you serve.
Expand your domestic marketing to a global audience. There are many ways to attract international buyers, such as using local search tools, direct mail and partnerships with existing overseas service providers, that you may offer additional services to.
Evaluate shipping carriers in your area. Larger shipping companies offer packages and all-in-one solutions. These solutions may include handling, customs, excise documentation, and shipping calculators. Some you might try are USPS Global, DHL International, FedEx International, and UPS International.
Language can be a barrier for international customer service. Most buyers ordering from your site will understand English. Make sure that return policies are clear for international transactions. Skype can help your international customer service with free member-to-member calls. If your company intends to set up a website overseas, it is important to provide customer service in the local language.
Customs and documentation
All shipments must clear customs, the agency that regulates shipments entering a country or region. To help customs officials understand the contents, value, and purpose of your shipment, you must attach customs forms to the outside of your package so that they can be examined easily. Some shipping companies will provide this service.
As a general rule, you should not declare your package’s contents as a “gift.” It is against the law to misrepresent an item to avoid custom fees.
You can get information on key customs forms at USPS.com. Visit the World Customs Organization website at www.wcoomd.org for more information about customs regulations around the world.
Duties and taxes
Duties and taxes may be charged to the buyer on certain items and vary by country. Make sure that your customers are aware that duties and taxes are their responsibility. Some general guidelines:
Items less than $200 USD. Buyers should not have trouble importing these items, but check customs rules for possible restrictions that vary by country.
- Items more than $200 USD. Buyers importing higher-dollar-value items for personal use may have to pay a duty or tax. The amount of the duty, if any, depends on the type of item and its value. Some items can be imported without paying any duty at all.
- Items for commercial use. PayPal customers importing goods for a commercial purpose may have to deal with possible quotas, duties, and paperwork. Commercial goods (goods intended for resale) may have special entry requirements.
If you’re on a tight budget, services such as PayPal offer fast, easy, and secure payment solutions for companies looking to sell products and services overseas.