The Internet has connected people to people, and people to companies too. This international commerce has opened up new opportunities for business, and a wealth of new goods flooding American and international markets. All of this is thanks to mail order fulfillment, which works quite well on a local level.
Unfortunately, shipping internationally is not so simple regardless of which side of the world you are on. Customs and Border Protection for the US has rules and regulations that must be complied with in order to ship goods to the US. If you are an international seller planning to ship to the US, or a buyer planning to have something shipped from another country, you will need to apprise yourself of the rules before you make the purchase. When it comes to buying internationally, it is very much a case of “buyer beware,” so be sure you are aware of your own obligations.
Inform Potential Buyers
As the seller, it is a good idea for you to keep a page somewhere on your website that informs your international customers about the risks they face. It’s not a legal obligation, by any means, but the extra information will save you and your customer service team headaches in the long run. Most businesses online sell items that would not be considered hazardous, but there are exceptions that you or your buyer might not be aware of. If you can do a little extra leg work and give your customers some information on how to ship something, you will get more repeat business.
When you’re shipping into the US, it helps to do a bit of research on the regulations. You may need to call the Export Control offices and give them a brief description of what’s being shipped, or ask them about the kinds of items you plan to ship in the future. You may also require a license to ship internationally, which is something you’ll uncover when you speak with the Export Control Offices.
Other Methods to Ship
Alternatively, you can take advantage of mail forwarding, which can ship goods to other destinations for you. The buyer can set up a US-based mailing address he can use to receive packages, then have the packages shipped from that new address. The address is virtual, so international companies can use it to establish virtual offices as well. In addition, these services typically have an online component that lets vendors manage the flow of goods and make changes to orders on the fly.
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