The laws. The regulations. The normal business stuff. International shipping can seem like a nightmare. So, why do so many businesses do it? Because it’s still profitable, that’s why. If you’re flirting with the idea of shipping internationally, here’s what you need to know.
Pay Attention To Regulations
Regulations exist in every country. The U.S. has tight regulations for imports and exports. But, foreign countries may have even more strict requirements. If you do business in Singapore, for example, you will probably want to hire a shipping lawyer in Singapore from IRB Law, for example.
Why? Because some products are illegal for importation. Take the issue with gum. At one time, Singapore had such a problem with gm that they banned its importation. Today, that ban still exists, and you cannot smuggle gum into the country. The only permitted gum is for medical purposes and gum with dental benefits.
If you try importing it, you could face stiff fines and jail time. Obviously, you don’t want that. So, it pays to pay attention to the regulations.
Also, don't forget to prepare all of your legal documents and licenses. You should research this, and get legal help with this, at least 6 months prior to starting your shipping. If you’re only shipping a few things internationally, it may not be a big deal.
If you’re setting up a major business operation in a foreign country, and need the ability to ship large amounts of goods, you may need a business license in that country, along with certain permits to operate a business. This is normally only necessary when you set up a shipping facility in the country.
Shipping facilities tend to be beneficial for medium to large companies. They make it easier to centralize shipping and get the best domestic rates in that country, rather than having to rely on foreign shippers to coordinate shipping for the “last mile” of shipping service (which may not be at optimal rates).
If you are shipping directly to the consumer, then you will only need to liaison with your international shipper. In this case, you may pay more for shipping, but those costs wouldn’t exceed the cost of having to set up shop in that country.
Get Your Priorities Straight
Make sure that you have your priorities straight regarding transportation. When choosing international shipping, make sure you know your budget, timeline, and any other regulations which might slow down the process. If the cost is your primary concern, then you should definitely stick to sea shipment, as shipping containers on an ocean-going vessel are much cheaper than many other forms of shipping – especially air.
Full Container Loads will be the cheapest. If, on the other hand, time is of the essence, then you need something like airfreight. When you ship FDA-approved goods, there are separate regulations, as well as documentation, that you must adhere to.
You may need to hire outside help for this.
Recognize That Supply Chain Visibility Is Important
Recognizing the importance of your supply chain is critical. When you ship packages internationally, you want to have as much control over the outcome as possible. From a customer service perspective, you want your cargo to arrive in a timely manner so that you can tell customers when to expect shipment.
Most customers want to know this anyway, and will expect you to be able to tell them, with reasonable accuracy, when their shipment will arrive.
If you know that a shipment will arrive within a few days, then you can begin the clearance process for it. This will save you time and lets your customers get the product faster. It also decreases the chance for storage charges and delays.
Know When You Need Help
Finally, know when you need help. This can be a difficult thing to admit, especially for an experienced company. No matter how good you are at what you do, there are things that you won’t be good at.
Also, no matter how many shipments you’ve made, there’s always room for improvement in the process. Again, this is where hiring an outside company may help. By bringing in a specialist in foreign shipping, you may be able to effectively create a third-party division of your company that acts as an international shipping department.
This shipping department can then liaison with your customers instead of you having to manage it all by yourself.
Shippers of this kind can pick up the slack in your current shipping operations or they can completely take over in a market where you don’t have a strong presence.
Baiross is one of the founding partners of I.R.B. Law. He prides his practice on providing no-frills legal advice to his clients at competitive rates. He specializes in helping clients handle their personal legal issues such as debt recovery, divorce, and criminal defence. Being an all-rounded lawyer and a peoples person, Baiross is well equipped to give legal advice to clients in a manner that is easily understood by all. He makes it a point that his clients understand the situation they are in. He is also careful that his services remain affordable to the common man.
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