Small Business Development Center Network

Importing FAQs

Q Do I need a license to import?

A. You do not require a license to import. As an individual entrepreneur, you must be a legal resident of the USA.

Q. How do I find information on duty rates?

A. Do you know the Harmonized Tariff System Number of the product you will be importing? If not, the publication of the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) has the tariff rates and qualifications for preferential treatment under trade treaties or bilateral agreements. The amount of duty is based on the transactional value of the import shipment which can be somewhat complicated to calculate. It includes the actual price paid, plus other costs such as packing, selling commissions, assists, royalties or license fees and proceeds of resale in US accruing to the foreign seller. It does not include freight, insurance, US duties and certain other costs after the importation of the goods.

Q. How do I find buyers for my imported products?

A. The first step to becoming an import intermediary is to research the market potential to determine if there are buyers for the product you plan to import, or to determine which products are marketable here. Research should include learning about competitive products and making sure your product is differentiated in some way—for example, offering better quality or price, new features or a product not available in our domestic market

Q. My company can’t find certain components/products here in the U.S., how do I find a supplier in foreign markets?

A. First narrow down the choices geographically. U.S. Customs requires that all foreign products must display the name of the country where the product is made. Once the best region or countries have been identified for the products, you can then locate the nearest consulate or trade office of these countries for assistance.

Q. How do I get my goods through U.S. Customs?

A. Customs requires strict compliance on marking, labeling and documentation. It is important to find a reliable Customs Broker, or Customs import specialist in your industry to advise you. Failure to comply has serious consequences ranging from delays to confiscation of your merchandise if Customs suspects fraud. You can find Customs Brokers in the Yellow Pages.

Q. How can I get a loan to import?

A. Contact your local Small Business Administration (SBA), you can find their number in the Government Pages of your phone book, under Government Offices—United States. To be eligible for a loan, you must have a track record in business. The contact number for the SBA in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is 817-885-6500.