How to Purchase Goods From a Foreign Country

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Purchasing goods directly from a foreign store or manufacturer requires a good understanding of the market as well as due diligence. In general, you should be certain that purchasing from a foreign source is the best way to acquire the product.

Learn as much as you can about the product and the firm selling it. Get a picture or several pictures of the product and keep them until you receive your order.

Investigate the reputation of the manufacturer and the reliability of the goods. If you import something like electronic components, check with someone in the manufacturer's distribution market to assure the quality of the merchandise.

Contact the foreign consulate located in the United States for information on the company or manufacturer selling the foreign goods. Sometimes these consulates can help find indexes of import/export enterprises.

Use U.S. government agencies (for example, U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Trade Representative and the Federal Trade Commission) to find help. These agencies promote the import/export business and publish many small booklets and pamphlets. They also distribute continually updated reports on foreign markets and commerce.

Obtain a firm price quote from the store or manufacturer. These quotes should be converted into the appropriate dollar figures according to currency exchange rates, and the price of the product should be put in writing.

Agree upon the type, terms and cost of shipping, and get concrete information on how to track the shipping. Also, find out what the customs duty will be and ask that the item's shipment be insured.


  • A Certificate of Inspection is a document certifying that merchandise (such as perishable goods) was in good condition immediately prior to shipment. Pre-shipment inspection is a requirement for importation of goods into many developing countries.


  • If the goods are damaged, or not what you expected them to be, return them immediately in an insured and easy-to-track manner. Include the receipt, but keep a copy for yourself.

    If you're unable to research a product, be wary. Don't just take the manufacturer's word.

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