Brazil, with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, exports a wide range of goods to the United States and many other countries all over the world. Importing Brazilian products as a business venture represents a timely and growing opportunity. It is a relatively simple process, but to maximize your chances of success, certain guidelines should be followed, according to industry expert Informed Trade International.
Decide what kinds of goods you want to import. If you import Brazilian food products such as pork or poultry, in addition to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, you’ll have to deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration – in a process considerably more complicated than that for clothing, for example. However, even clothing, because it is classified as a textile, imposes additional regulations over something as simple as arts and crafts.
Familiarize yourself with Brazilian laws and regulations that cover exports. Contact a trade specialist at Brazil4Export, at the Brazilian Consul in New York. Brazil4Export publishes a Directory of Brazilian Exporters that will help you identify specific products and their manufacturers.
Retain an import-export attorney in Brazil. Then make a trip there to make formal arrangements with the suppliers from whom you intend to buy. Put everything in writing, including pricing, purchasing quotas, if any, shipping details and anything else that could affect your ability to deliver products at a total fixed price to your U.S. port of entry – without surprises.
Get a customs brokerage license. If you’re only planning to operate on a small scale, such as importing blue jeans for friends and family twice a year, you can get a license under your own name, based on your Social Security number. But, advises Informed Trade International, if you’re planning to import from Brazil as a serious business venture, hire a licensed customs broker with specific experience in the kinds of products you want to import. Expertise in a type of product trumps knowledge of the country of origin, says Informed Trade International.
In addition to a customs broker with experience in your specific product area, hire one with experience in the port of entry you intend to use. If you’re bringing cargo into Los Angeles, you need a broker who works with Port of Los Angeles officials on a regular basis. U.S. Customs and Border Protection publishes an online directory of licensed customs brokers.
Once you’ve retained a customs broker, task him with classifying every individual product you plan to import according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) published and enforced by U.S. Customs. A 10-digit HTS number is required for every single item you intend to bring in. Your HTS classification, combined with Brazil as the country of origin for your products, will be the major determining factors in the duties, or taxes, you will pay on what you import.
Make a good first impression. For your first shipment into the United States, make sure that all of your paperwork is in order. Double-check everything with your customs broker. Mistakes or miscalculations can be expensive, especially for new importers. If you’re fully prepared and sail through your port of entry the first time, chances are you’ll make it a habit.
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