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Posted: 2006-08-05 / Author: Chris Malta & Robin Cowie

Starting An Import Business

Starting an Import Business: Everyone knows there are great deals to be found overseas—items that can be picked up for a fraction of the cost. But what most people don’t realize is that almost everything they’re buying domestically was already imported. They’re just paying a mark-up cost to the middle-man who did the actual importing for them. For those new in business, there’s nothing wrong with that. But for the established businessperson, importing directly can save a lot of money.

3 Things to Consider When Importing:
1. Your wholesale cost isn’t what you pay for an item. Your wholesale cost is the cumulative total for getting that item to your house, ready to be shipped to your customers. You may be paying 50 cents a vase, but after you pay a Customs broker, import duties, various fees, freight, consolidation, and insurance expenses, your actual cost of goods may be 2.25 each. Look at all your costs before you jump at a deal—anything you forget will come out of your profit margin.

2. You’ll have to allow significant lead time when placing an overseas order. It can sometimes take 2 or 3 months, or even longer, from the time you place your order to the time you receive the goods. Problems with Customs that can delay your orders even further. The costs of air freight are probably 10 times higher than the costs of shipping but it’s faster and less risky. You have to know when you need your wares and decide which way is going to best serve your needs.

3. You need look at the legal aspects. There are numerous government forms to fill out and a great many regulations regarding your imports. You are responsible for ensuring that what you bring into this country complies with safety codes and all other applicable laws.

How Do I Get Started?

If you’ve never done this before, your best bet is probably to start with a Customs broker. Says Kelby Woodward, of, “The Customs broker really helps you through the whole process…They can make sure that all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed and that you’ve considered all the different things you need to, in order to estimate your landing costs for your product.” A Customs broker can assist you in finding a trustworthy freight forwarder and advise you on the best way to ship your products, as well as book their passage for you.

A Customs broker will also walk you through the regulations and legalities, insuring you’re properly declared, you’ve paid the correct duties, and you aren’t dealing with gray market products. If your goods get tied up in Customs, your broker can help expedite the process of getting them through. Kelby states, “Expert advice in the beginning is very important…As you develop your expertise, then start taking over some…of these processes because there is substantial savings to be found by doing it yourself.”

About The Author: Chris Malta and Robin Cowie of are the Writers and Hosts of The Entrepreneur Magazine EBiz and Product Sourcing Radio Shows. for more FREE eBiz info from Entrepreneur Magazine Radio!

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