Exporting to the USA

Exporting to the USA: five top tips


The United States is the largest, most competitive and technologically advanced economy in the world. It is the UK's top export destination. If you are considering the US as an export market - read our top tips to help you get started.

1) Classify your goods: Before you ship items to the US, you'll need to classify your goods using the UK Trade Tariff. You'll also need to determine the duty rates using the US International Trade Commission database.

2) Seek legal advice: You should always get qualified legal guidance before entering into any agreement. Ideally, your contracts should be reviewed by lawyers who understand both US and UK law. Publicly traded companies (PLCs) have to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and make their annual reports available to investors. Privately held companies don't have to make this information available to the public. All corporations have to register with a government body in the state they incorporated in.

3) Establish what insurance you might require: You will need several types of insurance for your US operation. Some examples of commercial insurance are: general and product liability; business property; directors and officers liability; employer's practices liability; intellectual property infringement; professional liability; workers compensation; personal insurance (eg medical, disability and life insurance).

4) Decide whether you need to apply for trademark protection: If you intend to sell goods or services to the US, you should consider applying for US trademark protection. You also need to check that your trademark doesn't infringe any existing trademark. In the US, a company name is not the same as a trademark and will only give limited protection.

5) Seek tax advice: The US tax system is complex. You'll need tailored advice about your tax rates from a certified accountant or tax lawyer. You should note that there is no Value Added Tax (VAT) in the US, each state determines and collects sales tax on an individual basis.

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