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Not Based in the U.S.? Importing as a Foreign Importer of Record

If you do not have an entity or presence in the United States, and you want to import goods into the U.S., you need to be established as a Foreign Importer of Record.

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Importing into the U.S. without a U.S. Entity

Many businesses have asked how they can go about importing into the U.S. if they do not have a U.S. entity or presence here. It’s actually a relatively straightforward process and simply requires a few additional documents from your company to verify your business’s legitimacy.

What you ultimately need to import into the U.S. is to be established as a Foreign Importer of Record. To do so, you will need a Customs Assigned importer of record number and a Customs bond.

Your Customs broker can help you obtain a Customs Assigned Number. You will be asked to provide:

  • a Customs Power of Attorney, signed by two officers of the company. Your broker will provide this document to you. Typically Powers of Attorney only need one signature, but in this case, the second signatory would essentially verify the identity and authority of the first.
  • a copy of your Articles of Incorporation
  • a copy of the document that empowers the officers with authority to sign the Power of Attorney, if this isn’t already specified in the Articles of Incorporation
  • scans or pictures of the IDs of the two signatories

Once provided with all this information (and depending on the broker, perhaps some other details as well), the Customs broker can apply for the Customs Assigned Number on your behalf, under which you can get a Customs bond and – with the typical documents required for importing – ship your goods into the U.S.

Note that your recipient – whether it be a fulfillment center or your end customer – will need to have a U.S. address and a tax ID number (but not a Customs bond).

Naturally, there are a few things to be aware of when you act as the importer of record in any given country; you will be responsible for all compliance applicable. For example, if your product is regulated by the FDA, FCC, or CPSC, you will need to ensure that your product is registered and that all documentation is met.

Your broker will likely be able to help you with this process; however, ultimately the responsibility for compliance will lie with you.

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