Whether you’re a non-US resident or a seller of products manufactured outside the US, you’ll need to learn some importing basics.
It can seem an intimidating process to get started, but it is possible to import your products from China (or wherever they are manufactured) and have them sent directly to an Amazon warehouse and fulfilled to customers - all without you having to see or touch the shipments! This can make for a very efficient operation, when done correctly.
Here is a high-level overview of the process.
- Export your products from the source country and import them into the destination country. If using Amazon FBA, this is often exporting a product from China and into the USA.
- Create the product listings in on Amazon. You’ll need to complete this step in order for Amazon to generate shipping information including which FBA warehouse your products should be sent to.
- Prepare a commercial invoice, which includes the Importer of Record (IOR). The IOR can be the owner, purchaser, an authorized regular, or a licensed customs broker.
- Choose a customs broker. Some shipping carriers like Fed Ex and DHL offer this as part of their service, which can simplify things significantly. Brokers are the only people authorized to represent you in clearing imported goods through customs. If you don’t want to use your shipping carrier as your broker, you can find one in the Ports section of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
- Use a shipping carrier or freight forwarder to:
-Ship the products from the factory or warehouse to the port.
-Clear the products through customs for export.
-Ship products to the destination port and offload them
- Clear the products through customs for import. Your customs broker (or shipping carrier or freight forwarder if they offer this service) will handle this for you.
Import duty and taxes are due when importing most items into a country. Check with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to confirm ahead of time.
Import restrictions and rules for your product: Agencies such as U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), amongst others may require a permit, license, or other certification, depending on what is being imported - see Resources section below for more info.
- Optional step: send products to a pre-fulfillment facility. This is a specialist company which preps your items for sale on Amazon, including packaging the items according to Amazon’s requirements, applying barcode labels, etc.
- Send products onto an Amazon fulfillment center. The specific fulfillment center your goods are sent to will be specified when you create the products & shipment in Amazon’s system.
- Get paid by Amazon when your any of your inventory sells. See part 2 in this series, Getting Paid
Although the process of importing products to the US to sell on Amazon FBA is more tedious than it is for US-based sellers, it’s becoming easier. Freight forwarders, Pre-Fulfillment (Prep) Facilities, and Customs Brokers are now very familiar with Amazon’s requirements as more International Sellers join the fold.
Don’t miss the other parts of this 4-part blog series on how to sell on Amazon as a non-US resident!
- Part 1: Process for Setting up an Amazon Account as a non-US Resident
- Part 2: Getting paid as a non-US Amazon FBA Seller
- Part 3: Importing Products to the US to Sell on Amazon (this article!)
- Part 4: Beyond the Amazon America / US Marketplace
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) www.usda.gov
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) www.fda.gov
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) www.cpsc.gov
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) tips on how to import to the U.S: CBP Import Tips
- Rules and regulations for inbounding inventory to an Amazon fulfillment center, including requirements for floor-loaded LTL/FTL shipments, please visit the following Amazon help page