Understanding Import
Export Information


There is plenty of import export information floating around. In fact, there is so much that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Can a small business owner really take his business international by importing and exporting goods?

The answer is yes—if you can decode all the import / export information that’s available.


Informational Export / Import Sources

Let’s start with all the government sources. Export / import companies must start with federal information sources because the government makes the laws that govern foreign trade. In the U.S., the place to start is with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

From there you can make a leap to any of the other agencies which control the type of product you want to import or export. Here are some of the agencies you might want to check out.

  • Small Business Administration (exporting/importing)
  • U.S. Census Bureau (FOREIGN TRADE - the official source for U.S. export and import statistics)
  • U.S. International Trade Commission (usitc.gov)
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (fda.gov)
  • Export.gov (International Trade Administration)

Start your search for import export information with Export.gov. That site is operated in partnership with other U.S. agencies like the Department of Agriculture, which is helpful for those wanting to import or export anything dealing with agriculture.

You will learn a lot about which other agencies you should study before you begin your import / export business. You will also learn about export and import controls and the laws governing them.

Going Deeper Into Import / Export Information


After you have a basic understanding of the rules and controls which govern the types of products you want to import or export, then it’s time to go a bit deeper. If you’re going to import products from another country, you will need an import / export distribution company.

There is no substitute for your own research, so spend some time figuring out which part of the world most of the products you are interested in actually come from. After you have narrowed it down to a country or two, get in touch with the U.S. embassy in that country. They can direct you to reputable import / export companies that can help you.

Other Tips for Staying on Top of Import / Export Information

Finally, it’s important to remember that in the world of import export information, you’re never finished learning. It’s one thing to learn the rules of the countries you do business with, but those laws can and do change.

It’s up to you to read news reports about changes in trade laws, both changes that affect the type of products you deal in and changes affecting the nations you deal with. The news is also an excellent source of information about increases in import or export taxes.

If your available time for this type of research is limited, as it is the case for most business owners and entrepreneurs, then make sure you contract out some of these tasks to qualified outsourcing companies or freelancers who can research and summarize the latest information, news and updates of interest to you in the world of trade and commerce.     

An informed small business owner is a happy business owner when it comes to import / export information.


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