I want to import a product from overseas. Where do I start?

This post was last updated on 05/04/23

Whether you are a seasoned importer considering a new product or a first time importer, there are certain steps you should take before you make any decisions. Doing so will almost certainly make a difference in optimizing your profit for these transactions.

What to do before importing a new product

To make the most informed decision possible, there are several things to do before you decide to purchase anything overseas.

Some may have a dramatic impact on your costs and a direct impact on your bottom line. Whether you are just considering importing for the first time or you are an experienced importer considering a new product, you should consult with an experienced Customs broker (CHB).

For first-time importers: the import process is not child’s play; but it is also not too complex when you have a little help.

The advice of a knowledgeable CHB will help you through the import process. Doing so can make the difference in your venture being logistically and financially successful, as long as you seek that advice before you make any final decisions.

Understand duty rates & shipping costs

Some products and materials from certain countries have a free or reduced rate of duty. Some have additional (antidumping and countervailing) duties. Obviously, if you can find a supplier that offers the quality you require, importing from a duty-free country may be in your best interest.

Here are some essential parts to successful importing:

  • air and ocean rates (and the service level and reliability of those carriers)
  • domestic and foreign inland freight rates
  • overseas Customs charges
  • regulatory responsibilities if you are a first-time importer
  • buying terms and what liability accrues to the buyer and the seller (including cargo insurance)

Your CHB can help you with any of these items, including what duties apply to your shipment, and an estimation of total costs.

Find a supplier

Another essential part to success is having a reliable and ethical supplier. Suppliers are easy to find with an online search; however, a foreign supplier who is reliable and ethical can be more difficult to locate. Sometimes the U S Embassy in the foreign country can help.

C J’s foreign freight forwarding partners may be able to help by relating their experiences with any particular suppliers. But there is no sure-fire way to assess how your dealings with anyone overseas will turn out until you actually meet and work with them.

Get help from a Customs broker

We cannot overstate how important it is to discuss everything before you make commitments. You will save yourself many heartaches and headaches.

Unanticipated delays, costs, and requirements can be extremely expensive and time consuming, and failure to exercise “reasonable care” as an importer can even lead to Customs penalties and fines.

For any compliance questions, please feel free to contact our Compliance Officer, Samya (Sam) Murray, LCB, CCS at sdmurray@cjinternational.com.

Samya is a founding partner in C J and has extensive knowledge of importing (and exporting). There is normally no charge or obligation if you use her services, unless you need something requiring a significant amount of time and research.

The only other possible expense is a nominal fee some of our freight-forwarding partners charge to research a potential supplier.

Our blog posts are for informational purposes only. While we use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate information, C J is not liable or responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any information contained herein.


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