How to Start Export Business from the USA

How to Start Export Business from the USA

Would you like to set up an export business from the USA? We will provide you with information on topics such as business plans, business ideas, financial plans, documentation, and all the important regulations and laws that you need to know – this is how your business start-up succeeds!

1 Basic Requirements for starting an export business in the USA

If you want to set up an export business in the USA, in-depth knowledge of the industry is the be-all and end-all. Nobody will ask you to provide proof of technical knowledge or professional qualifications, but you should at least have a basic knowledge of import and export as well as corporate management. If you want to set up an export business, you should also be experienced in international goods and payment transactions. If you also have enough equity to consider starting up, check that you have the following skills:

2. Knowledge and Experience in Business

  • Gain maximum knowledge of the product you want to start
  • Several years of professional experience in the import and export business is available on the Internet for almost free of cost.
  • Gain Expertise in the following areas of business administration using Google Workspace, Custom Clearance, Freight Calculation, International Payments, Warehousing, Marketing

3. Knowledge of legal regulations

Comprehensive knowledge of US legal regulations (e.g. supplier declaration, import and export regulations as well as import and export controls, customs regulations, etc.). When you know legal rules you can easily set up your export business.

4. Business Plan

When starting a business in the Import and Expert area, you should draw up a business plan. The business plan helps you to develop your business idea and is required during the financing meeting with the bank advisor.

If you can answer all of this in the affirmative, you now go one step further to formulating your business plan. If you want to realize your business ideas, you need them, especially if you are dependent on outside capital. With a professional business plan, you can convince potential donors of your idea and your concept. Your business plan also includes your financial plan, which explains the costs of your import-export company in detail:

4. Capital requirements for the start-up phase (start-up costs, share capital, etc.)

  • Business Registration, Website, Products, Visiting Card Formalities
  • Freight and storage costs, taxes, customs fees, costs in international payment transactions
  • Marketing, tax, and various insurance expenses
  • Salaries for employees (If any)
  • Business Trips

5. Trade license

Please keep in mind that you need a trade license for special goods that you import or export. For example, if you trade in weapons, explosives, or food such as bulk milk, you must be able to prove that you have technical or specialist knowledge. If you need a business license for your profession, please find out in good time which individual requirements have to be met. You can find more information on the subject of a business license in our advisory article

For more information about getting export license You can click here

Other important documents are

  • CBP entry forms
  • IRS business registration number
  • Social Security number (SSN).

CBP Form 5106

6. Setting up a company

You want to become self-employed in the import-export industry. “Import-export company” is a colloquial term that is used for a variety of activities and is mostly assigned to the wholesale sector. Wholesale does not always have to be international, but can also be carried out domestically. Often, importers and exporters rely on forwarding agents. You can find out how to set up one in our article “Setting up a trading company”.  In addition to a wide range of laws and guidelines for trade in goods, you should consider which products you would like to import and export before setting up a business.

Important documents required

  • License or permit to export
  • CBP entry forms
  • IRS business registration number
  • Social Security number (SSN).
  • CBP Form 5106

7. Constitution of Business

In order to be able to fulfill the dream of your own import-export company, you must first decide which legal form is suitable for your company. Common legal forms for business start-ups in the industry are the GmbH or the sole proprietorship. When making your choice, please also note that the individual legal forms also differ in terms of taxation.

Learn more about the possible legal forms:

  • Establish a company as (LLC) limited liability company; that protects its owners from personal responsibility for its debts or liabilities
  • Establish a company as a sole proprietorship; it is an unincorporated business with only one owner who submit income tax on profit earned.

After you have decided on a legal form, the next step is to register your business so that you can buy and sell goods and issue invoices.

8. Which documents for export USA?

Guarantee document (customs bond), a commercial invoice or pro forma invoice in English with all customary information, packing list, any other documents required for the clearance of goods (certificate of origin, import licenses, health certificates, Bill of Lading, and so on).

The following points are decisive when exporting:

  • Export to new sales markets
  • Means companies open up new sales markets abroad.
  • Additional growth potential through exports
  • The new sales markets increase the growth potential.
  • Risk diversification
  • Risks can be reduced through market diversification

9. Hunt for new markets

New markets, new luck? Other countries certainly offer new sales opportunities for their own products – but the export strategy also means major challenges, especially for small companies. Most exports from the USA take place within the EU. India and the USA are also important sales markets for exports.

Which target market is relevant for you? A detailed market analysis is necessary here. For more information, see the Target Audience and Market section of the business plan. The analysis of foreign markets for export is often more difficult, for example, due to cultural differences.

10. Exportability of products

Is your product suitable for export? Think about transportability, import or export restrictions, rules for standards, and the necessary tariffs.

You can obtain information and assistance on exporting from the following addresses:

You can obtain detailed information on countries, their markets, and conditions from the Society for Foreign Trade and Location Marketing – USA Trade & Invest and from the Chambers of Foreign Trade.

Here, too, USA Trade & Invest and the chambers of foreign trade in the respective countries are good addresses that can help you get in touch with local companies. Of course, you can also research on the Internet and yellow pages on your own. Visiting trade fairs is also suitable.


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