Trade FAQs

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Some of your Questions:

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Q. What export documentation is required?

There are a number of documents that are commonly used in exporting, but specific requirements vary by destination and product. The most common export documents are described on our Common Export Documents page. Links to example documents are included when available. Contact your shipper for clarification. Many of the shippers have systems in place that will prompt you to fill out appropriate export documentation.

Q. What services do freight forwarders provide and how can I find one?

An international freight forwarder is an agent for the exporter and can move cargo from dock-to-door, providing several significant services. These services and how to locate one are described on our freight forwarders page.

Q. What's the difference between the Schedule B codes (for exports) and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes (for imports)?

All of the imports and export codes used by the United States are based on the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS). The HTS assigns 6-digit codes for general categories. Countries which use the HTS are allowed to define commodities at a more detailed level than 6-digits, but all definitions must be within that 6-digit framework. The U.S. defines products using 10-digit HTS codes. Exports codes (which the U.S. calls Schedule B) are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Import codes are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). Web sites for U.S. import and export HTS codes: Export (Schedule B, administered by U.S. Census) Import (HTS, administered by USITC)

Q. What's the purpose of the Schedule B search engine?

The Schedule B search engine allows users to search the Schedule B commodity book. Schedule B commodity codes are 10-digit numeric codes used to identify products that are exported to other countries. Each 10-digit code usually takes the form AABBCCDDDD and belongs to several groups. The 2-digit group is the first two digits (AA). The 4-digit group is the first four digits (AABB). The 6-digit group is the first six digits (AABBCC). They are similar to 10-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) codes (the import codes) in that the groups are the same up to the 6-digit level. At the 10-digit level, Schedule B codes and HTS codes can be different.

Q. Where can I learn more about the new Incoterms?

There are a number of private sector and government organizations that offer workshops, webinars, and seminars related to the new Incoterms. For webinars and other events related to Incoterms and many other topics of trade education that are being offered by the U.S. Commercial Service and its partners in support of the Presidents National Export Initiative, you may visit our Trade Events Search Database.

Q. Where can I obtain a copy of the new Incoterms 2010?

You can purchase a copy of the new Incoterms; 2010 from the ICC website. You may also consult INCOTERMS 2010 Quick Reference Chart.

Q. Who can ship my personal shipment or package overseas?

You have a variety of options for sending personal shipments such as the US Postal Service, an Express Carrier, or other freight forwarder that can consolidate and handle small shipments. Please note that the most secure option involves using a tractable system. Below are links to a number of providers. US Postal Service Find a Freight Forwarder Find an Express Carriers: In addition to well known providers such as DHL, FedEx, UPS, groups such as the Express Carriers Association provide member directories allowing you to find a carrier in your area. [note: The US Department of Commerce does not endorse one provider over another. Capabilities should be confirmed directly with the service provider.]

Q. Who pays customs charges?

The responsibility for paying customs charges ultimately depends upon the trade terms that you have established with your buyer. For more information on shipping and trade terms, please see Incoterms.

Q. Why do I need HS/Schedule B numbers and how can I find them?

The Harmonized System (HS) is an international product classification protocol used by customs officials for levying tariffs and controlling quotas on imported goods. The U.S. uses a 10-digit Schedule B classification system that is based upon the Harmonized System. The first six digits of the Schedule B and Harmonized System numbers are the same.

Q. Why do you need to know your product's Schedule B and HS numbers?

Exporters need to know their products Schedule B and HS numbers to: Determine applicable import tariff rates and whether a product qualifies for a preferential tariff under a Free Trade Agreement (the U.S. Schedule B number will be very similar, if not the same, as the importing countrys HS number). Complete the Shippers Export Declaration, Certificates of Origin and other shipping documents.

Q. Why were the Incoterms 2000 revised?

Incoterms; 2010 are the updated version of Incoterms;. Incoterms; 2010 have been developed as a result of an extensive review of current shipping practices and trends in an effort to keep up with the rapid expansion of world trade. The key drivers for this update include: a need for improved cargo security, changes to the Uniform Commercial Code in 2004 that resulted in a deletion of U.S. shipment and delivery terms, and new trends in global transportation.

Q. Does the U.S. Federal Government have any programs to help advertise my products overseas?

Commercial News USA (CNUSA) is a catalog-magazine distributed outside of the United States, free of charge to buyers, through U.S. Embassies/Consulates and trading partners worldwide. It is the official United States Department of Commerce showcase for American-made products and services. Each issue reaches an estimated 400,000 readers worldwide in 176 countries. Exporters can advertise U.S. products and services in CNUSA by calling Associated Business Publications International at 1-800-581-8533, visiting the website or contacting local Department of Commerce U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEAC). A list of USEACs is available at Exoport.Gov by clicking on Find a Local U.S. Office or by calling 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) and speaking with a Trade Information Center (TIC) international trade specialist. International Catalog Exhibition Program is a low-cost, efficient way for small and medium-sized firms to obtain sales leads throughout the world without leaving the United States. The U.S. Commercial Service trade specialists located in international markets will translate your company profile into the local language, display your marketing materials, collect sales leads from interested local buyers, and then assist you as you follow up with the local contacts. For more information on the International Catalog Exhibition program, contact Export Promotion Services at (202) 482-3973 or visit the website. The Export Yellow Pages is used by foreign buyers as a reference tool to find U.S. goods and services. This service enables U.S. firms to present their products to a worldwide audience at not cost. U.S. firms can register their business profiles on their website for free. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center: Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

Q. How can I locate importers, distributors, sales reps, etc. in an overseas market?

The U.S. Commercial Service has programs and services to help you locate potential business partners overseas. Contact your nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center and speak with an International Trade Specialist. You can also receive free export counseling and learn more about our programs and services to help you compete around the globe. Call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) or visit export.gov to find your local Export Assistance Center.

Q. How do I find information about a particular overseas company?

There are a number of public and private resources that have services designed to help U.S. exporters find information about overseas companies: The International Partner Search, a service of the U.S. Commercial Service, helps U.S. companies find qualified international buyers, partners, or agents without traveling overseas. CS trade specialists will deliver detailed company information on up to five pre=screened international companies that have expressed an interested in the U.S. firm's products and services. Fees depend on the scope of the work. Orders for this service can be placed through local U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEAC). USEACs are listed on the Export.gov website by clicking on Find a Local U.S. Office" under "Contact Us" or by calling 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) and speaking with a TIC international trade specialist. Private companies/organizations that maintain information on foreign companies include: Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) produces company lists, country profiles, risk analyses, and other types of reports and information on topics related to business and trade. D&B can be contacted by telephone at 1-800-932-0025, or accessed on the Internet at http://www.dnb.com. Standard & Poor's Rating Service provides credit reports, country profiles, risk analyses, and other types of information for individual countries and regions. S&P can be contacted by telephone at (212) 438-2400, or accessed on the Internet at http://www.standardandpoors.com. Graydon America, Inc. provides business services in the fields of credit management and marketing information on overseas companies. Graydon can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.graydonamerica.com. Other private corporations that provide credit reporting services include: The Kreller Business Information Group (telephone 1-800-444-6361; Internet website http://www.kreller.com) LIDA Credit Agency, Inc. (telephone 1-800-423-0026) Owens OnLine, Inc. (telephone 1-800-745-4656; Internet website http://www.owens.com) Veritas Business Information Corp. (telephone 1-800- 626-3223; Internet website http://www.coface-usa.com/) Other general information on international business and marketing research can be accessed through International Business Information on the Web (IBI) at http://www.infotoday.com/ibidirectory.htm. Note: This document does not include all private sector sources of trade information nor does it represent an endorsement of any particular service or source by the U.S. Department of Commerce. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center: Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

Q. Are there sources of legal assistance for people who are new to exporting?

Several legal assistance resources are available to help businesses that are new to exporting: Department of Commerce Office of Chief Counsel for International Commerce Information on various legal issues of interest to U.S. exporters on its website at http://www.osec.doc.gov/ogc/occic. Export Legal Assistance Network (ELAN) A nationwide group of attorneys with experience in international trade. Read More District Export Councils Community business leaders whose knowledge of international business and trade serves as a valuable source of professional advice for local companies. Read More American Bar Association (ABA) The ABA publishes information on the legal aspects of doing business in specific countries, including guides to foreign law firms and law organizations. Read More China Intellectual Property Rights Advisory Program Consultations for American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) about IPR issues in the Chinese market: how to protect and enforce intellectual property rights (IPR), such as trademarks, patents or copyrights, in China. Read More For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center: Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

Q. How can I contact an ELAN lawyer located near me?

You can locate an ELAN lawyer nearest you by calling the Trade Information Center at 1-800-USA-TRAD(E). For more information on ELAN services, you can also access the ELAN homepage.

Q. How can the Office of the Chief Counsel for Internaitonal Commerce help me?

The Commerce Departments Office of the Chief Counsel for International Commerce has posted useful background information on its website. Focusing mostly on export and investment issues, this website contains resources on various legal issues facing exporters.

Q. How does the American Bar Association help exporters?

The American Bar Association (ABA) is another useful source of legal information for U.S. exporters. The ABA publishes numerous books and materials on international business, many of which contain information on the legal aspects of doing business in specific countries or provide guides to foreign law firms and law organizations. The International section of the ABA website is available at http://www.abanet.org/intnat/home.html, with information for International Law and Practice available at http://www.abanet.org/intlaw. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center: Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

Q. What are District Export Councils?

District Export Councils (DECs) are composed of community business leaders whose knowledge of international business and trade serves as a valuable source of professional advice for local companies. Many DEC members are practicing attorneys. For more than 25 years, DECs have served the United States by helping businesses in their communities to export. For more information about DECs, please contact the TIC at 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) or your local U.S. Export Assistance Center. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center: Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

Q. What is the China Intellectual Property Rights Advisory Program

The U.S. Department of Commerce, in cooperation with the American Bar Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Chamber of Commerce in China, has established a new China Intellectual Property Rights Advisory Program. Through this program, American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can request a free, one-hour consultation with a volunteer attorney experienced in both IPR issues and the Chinese market to learn how to protect and enforce intellectual property rights (IPR), such as trademarks, patents or copyrights, in China. More information about this program can be found by contacting the TIC or by visiting the U.S. Commercial Service's China Business Information Center at http://www.export.gov/china. For further assistance, please contact the Trade Information Center: Tel: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723) Fax: (202) 482-4473 E-mail: [email protected] Internet: http://www.export.gov

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