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Questions about Import Laws and Rules

Imports are goods or services from other countries that are brought into a country by legal transfer to be sold. Import/export operations are the backbone of international trade and affects every aspect of everyday life. Without import services, many of the products in the average U.S. household would not exist. Below are a few of the more commonly asked questions about imports.

I want to open an import/export company and need some information. I live in Ft. Lauderdale, is this where I should have the business? Where do I find out about taxes on imports into the US?

An import/export business doesn't require you to have special licenses to operate. However you will be requires to register the business through the Florida Division of Corporations under the title of business in which you are going to operate, such as an LLC, LP, INC, etc. You can remain as a sole proprietor if you want to which is legal but not highly recommended.

When you first start importing, you may want to have an import broker to assist you in the first transactions. Import brokers are familiar with the fees and taxes involved in importing and can help you sort through the steps of the process. You should be fine to conduct the business after you have familiarized yourself with the process.

Exporting products can be a very dangerous business in the sense that if you are not familiar with the rules and regulations, you can get into trouble fast. Technology in particular is a highly regulated product, and if you export certain technology to areas of the world, you could possibly face extreme penalties or even prison sentences. If you are going to be dealing with technology, such as laptops, you need to be sure to understand the basics of the Bureau of Industry and Security.

I am an Egyptian trader and I want to open a company in the United States and import Egyptian product. What are the restrictions and how would I pay the taxes?

The restrictions on your business would depend on what products you want to import into the US. The U.S. Department of Customs can assist you in the requirements and your responsibility of the imports. You can open a company in the U.S. and the company would have to taxes as well as income tax.

I am on H1-B Work Visa (I am not a US citizen) in the US and want to sell a product online. Can I open an e-commerce website in the USA and sell product or is it possible to open a website and sell internationally from my country? Will it require an import/export license to buy/sell from the internet?

Usually, anyone could operate an international website that is based in a foreign country. Before you begin to sell products abroad, you should learn the export laws of the country that you will be sending your product to as well as the import laws of the country that you will be shipping the product from. The import/export laws will differ from each country. The type of products that you will be selling will have an impact on any restrictions that may arise. Because you have an H1-B Visa, you are restricted from working for anyone in the U.S. who isn't an H1B employer; this would include being self employed.

How do I go about getting distribution rights for a product in Colombia?

The first thing you should do is to contact the company or person who has the product that you are interested in and try to obtain exclusive rights to the products distribution. You will need to find an attorney located in Columbia who can assist you with contracts and agreements. If you need assistance, you can contact the U.S. Consulate in Columbia and ask for the commercial section. The people in this office will explain the export rules and laws pertaining to the country.

You need to be familiar with the import laws of all countries that you want to import the product to. You will also need the ability to repatriate (converting foreign currency into the currency of your own country) profits as well as being able to obtain foreign exchange. The repatriation of profits may need to be negotiated before you begin business in certain countries.

Imports are an important part of our everyday lives. The U.S. depends greatly on the import of oil, technology, autos, and many other products that otherwise would be unavailable. The import/export business can be a lucrative business but it can also be a nightmare if you are not familiar with the import/export rules and regulations. Before you attempt to import products from other countries, you should consult with an Expert in the import/export business to assist you with any legal issues.

Ask a Business Lawyer

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Law Pro, Attorney
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 1767
Experience:  20 years experience in business law - sole proprietor, partnership, and corporations
11688690
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Law Pro
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Drafted Negotiated and/or Reviewed Thousands of Commercial Agreements

Recent Import Questions

  • I am a freelance designer. I was commissioned by a restaurant

    I am a freelance designer. I was commissioned by a restaurant manager for a brand new franchise to design some promotional and branding items.
    The items were designed but never paid for (nothing was sent to print without a down payment)
    The manager did however pay for a 6 page menu and printing. All my invoices contain my terms and agreements, which clearly states (on all my estimates and invoices) the following:
    "Any artwork, images, or text supplied and/or designed by (My Company name hidden) on behalf of the customer, will remain the property of (My Company name hidden) and/or it’s suppliers.
    The customer may request in writing from (My Company name hidden), the necessary permission to use materials (for which (My Company name hidden) holds the copyright) in forms other than for which it was originally supplied, and (My Company name hidden) may, at its discretion, grant this. Such permission must be obtained in writing before it will allow any of the aforesaid artwork, images, text, or other data to be used."
    "Licensing
    Any design, copywriting, drawing, idea or code created for the customer by (My Company name hidden), or any of its contractors, is licensed for use by the client on a one-time only basis and may not be modified, re-used, or re-distributed in any way or form without the express written consent of (My Company name hidden) and any of it’s relevant sub-contractors."
    The cover of this menu was cut-out by someone in their organization. The company never provided me a logo to use for the menu so I was told by the manage to get it from their Facebook page and or website at the time. Unfortunately - the logo was extremely low resolution and was not print suitable. So I was forced to recreate, polish and re-design a more suitable logo using their reference for the cover of my menu. This was the item they cut out - and used on over 10 promotion products, including a NEW logo and billboards.
    The issue was when we first started working together, I was asked to create a logo, the logo was rejected and they supposedly had another logo they had paid someone else to use. I believe they did not like fees that included a licensing fee that gave made the image royalty free - just as long as they paid the licensing upfront.
    So they skipped that step and flat out stole my image and used it as a logo.
    I charged them the Licensing fee (times) as many times as they used the image without authorization. What are my options moving forward or am I chasing my tail. I heard they were moving forward with an organizational name change in the next few weeks.
    Please help.
  • Is it illegal to use another business name to help people understand

    Is it illegal to use another business name to help people understand what type of business we are in our marketing? For example "We are the next Facebook" or "We are the ESPN for Ballet"
  • Hi, I have three questions regarding an LLC:1. Is the

    Hi, I have three questions regarding an LLC: 1. Is the "registered agent" of an LLC the owner? 2. Can there be multiple registered agents? 3. Can there be a registered agent, but then a separate owner of an LLC?

    In short, the reason I ask is because I'm offering a financial payments service for this LLC and I will need to send the money to the legal representatives bank account in the foreign country, but I need to verify he is the owner or one of the owners and can make these decisions in telling me where to send the money (they need money in the foreign country to pay for contractors, etc.)

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