How to Get an
Import and Export License


No matter which country you are in, you must have an import and export license in order to take part in international trade. An import export license keeps the government informed about your import export business activities and makes it possible for you to do trade overseas without breaking any laws. Here are the basic steps involved in getting a business license to import or export products.


Obtaining an Import/Export License Step By Step


Before you do anything, you will need to register your business with the Bureau of Industry and Security through the Department of Commerce. In the U.S., the SNAP-R Company Registration page makes it easy to fill out an application. 

Next it’s time to do some heavy reading. Learn as much as you can about the Department of Commerce (or the corresponding agency in your own country). The department handles trade with other countries.

You can also find information there about which other agencies you should be studying. Different government agencies regulate different imports and exports. For example, items that could have military uses in other countries are restricted as exports. The Department of Energy has placed restrictions on anything that could assist other countries in building nuclear weapons.

Next it’s time to fill out your application to get an export license. You can export some very basic items or products without a license, but most items will require you to register with the Department of Commerce. Follow the DOC’s policies and regulations according to whether you must register or not.

Securing an import license is a little more difficult because you must contact the commerce department in every country you would like to export your goods to. This means if you’re importing things into the U.S. (whether you are in the U.S. or not), you need a U.S. import license.

Other Tips about Getting an Import Export License


Remember that there is no one all-encompassing import license, and the procedures and fees for securing licenses vary from nation to nation and even government agency to government agency. For example, if you’re going to import food items, then you need to get a license from the Food and Drug Administration (

It is advisable that you hire legal counsel in the country in which you plan to import to. Start by contacting your nation’s embassy in that country for help finding legal counsel.

Also keep in mind that getting an import and export license is in addition to any other licenses you need to operate your business.




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