Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Contending with customs: advice for people new to exporting

Exporting your goods overseas can seem a daunting experience. It can be difficult to determine which regulations apply to you and which forms are applicable to your business - never mind how to fill them in!  Generally speaking, trade within the EU tends to be a simpler process, but if you're thinking of making the leap and expanding your sales beyond the European Community we have some customs tips and advice for you.

1. Inform your customer of the potential costs of Customs Clearance in advance

Typically, the receiver will be liable to pay any charges associated with Customs Clearance before your goods are released for delivery. This is called DDU (delivered duty unpaid) shipping. Most seasoned shippers are well aware of this but it's a good idea to make sure your customer knows of potential customs charges in advance- the last thing you want to do is give your customer a shock before they have even received your goods! Alternatively, if you'd prefer to pay the charges yourself, you can always opt for a DDP (delivered duty paid) service when booking UPS, DHL and TNT services through Transglobal Express. Such a service bills all charges back to you, the exporter, and usually entails a small fee. 

2. Research country-specific regulations

As well as familiarising yourself with general restrictions imposed by all major carriers, you also need to check the restrictions for your particular export country.  Restrictions can vary a lot depending on the policies and priorities of different governments, and there are also some historic and sometimes very strange trade restrictions, so you should always double-check with the relevant customs authority before implementing your export strategy. Want to send plastic flowers to Nigeria or toothbrushes to Algeria? Believe it or not, customs law prohibits the import of such items! Want to send tents to Jordan? You need a license first! The best advice? Always check! 

The best place to start when carrying our your research is the customs website of the relevant country: countries publish detailed lists of restrictions on their webpages. Customs Forum is another useful website where you can ask questions and advice of other exporters.

3. Choose the right delivery service

UPS, DHL, FedEx and TNT Express - the largest global carriers - tend to take care of customs clearance on behalf of the shipper. If you book with a reseller such as Transglobal  Express, you can enjoy the expertise and excellent international networks of these brands at highly reduced rates. But equally importantly, you can benefit from our own expertise developed from over 20 years experience in the industry. Given the fact that Transglobal ship to over 220 destinations worldwide, using a variety of the biggest and best carriers, we are unable to give definitive advice on specific customs policies, but we do know where to direct you if you need any further advice, and we are always willing to help wherever we can - personal service can make all the difference when trying to navigate what is often a daunting collection of rules and regulations!

Do you have any general customs advice to share with other exporters? Let us know and we'll publish it here- happy shipping!

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