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FAQs

"I have some questions about export licensing."

"I have some questions about imports, tariffs, or duties."

"I need to get a patent/trademark/copyright."

"Where can I get a copy of ...?"

"I need to find out about regulations in [foreign country]."

"I am planning to set up my own import/export business. What are the regulations and licensing requirements?"

"What products require an export license?"

"We are a small manufacturing company and would like to export our product overseas. What kind of assistance can you provide?"

"I would like to set my business in [foreign country]. What are their requirements?"

"How can I obtain a carnet?"

"I am an exporter in need of a financing assistance. Can you help me?"

"Can I purchase a product to be exported overseas and have it exempt from California sales tax?"

"I need to find some statistical information regarding cost of living or any reference regarding consumer price index."

"Which governmental agency regulates the labeling of products, such as Made is U.S.A.?

"I would like to register my product to get an R.N. Number?"

"I have a question regarding trucking permits."

"Where can I copyright my publication/book?"

"I would like to establish my own freight forwarding company. Can you help?"

Where would I obtain information on classifications of products and documentation/licensing requirements to export merchandise?

What carrier offers service to a particular country and do they have the special cargo handling equipment I need?

What is the harbor maintenance fee? How is it used?

What is cabotage?

Where can I obtain information on the Jones Act?

What is an SGS Inspection? Are preshipment inspections required?

Who can complete a bill of lading?

What is Cargo Preference?

Where do I get information on cargo preference laws and issues?

Who can tell me if a commodity that I am shipping is a hazardous material and possibly subject to certain restrictions or regulations?






"I have some questions about export licensing."
See Applying for an Export License in TradeExpert, or contact the Western Regional Office of the Bureau of Export Administration at (408) 748-7450.

"I have some questions about imports, tariffs, or duties."
Imports are handled by U.S. Customs. The San Francisco number for Customs (415) 705-4488 or you can call Washington DC at (202) 927-1000. Tariff schedules for APEC countries can be found on the home page of the APEC Tariff Database.

"I need to get a patent/trademark/copyright."
TradePort has extensive information on Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights. Or, you can contact the Patent and Trademark Office for forms or more information.

"Where can I get a copy of ...?"
If the document is published by the U.S. government, call the Federal Bookstore located at 303 2nd Street, Marathon Plaza, Room 141-S, San Francisco, CA 94107. They also accept phone orders. Buyers can order by calling telephone: (415) 512-2270 or faxing (415) 512-2276. Alternatively, their Congressman or Senator may be a free source.

"I need to find out about regulations in [foreign country]."
Country-specific information can be found in the Trade Information section of TradePort's Country Library.

"I am planning to set up my own import/export business. What are the regulations and licensing requirements?"
The Federal Government does not require a company to have a license or permit to engage in the import/export business. Contact your appropriate state or local city hall regarding requirements and procedures for obtaining business permits.

"What products require an export license?"
Certain products, becuase of both their civilian and military purposes, may require an export license as such products can readily be applied to a foreign country's military program. U.S. companies exporting these products, such as super computers and high-technology devices, need to obtain an export license. See Applying for an Export License in TradeExpert or contact the Western Regional Office of the Bureau of Export Administration at (408) 748-7450.

"We are a small manufacturing company and would like to export our product overseas. What kind of assistance can you provide?"
The US&FCS' sole mission is to promote the international sales of small- and medium-sized companies. To that end, US&FCS performs three broad functions: (1) pinpointing export prospects, (2) making international contacts, and (3) promoting their products/services. Contact the trade specialist for your industry at your local US&FCS office.

"I would like to set my business in [foreign country]. What are their requirements?"
For country-specific information see the Trade Information section in TradePort's Country Library or contact that country's embassy in Washington, DC or local consulate for information.

"How can I obtain a carnet?"
Carnets are handled by the U.S. Council for International Business. They are located at 353 Sacramento Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94111, tel: (415) 956-3356.

"I am an exporter in need of a financing assistance. Can you help me?"
Many different forms of financing assistance are discussed in-depth in the Obtaining Financing section of the TradePort website.

"Can I purchase a product to be exported overseas and have it exempt from California sales tax?"
The State of California Board of Equalization regulates all sales tax in California. Their general telephone number is (415) 396-9800.

"I need to find some statistical information regarding cost of living or any reference regarding consumer price index."
Information for statistical sites can be found at TradePort's Trade Statistics. Also, consider the National Trade Data Bank electronic subscription service (on-line and in compact disk formats). This resource is a data repository for many federal agencies including the Bureau of Census export and import statistics by commodity and countries based on the ten-digit HS codes. Remember, that TradePort also provides many of the documents in the National Trade Data Bank.

"Which governmental agency regulates the labeling of products, such as Made is U.S.A.?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) determines whether a product can be labeled, "Made in the U.S.A.", provided that it is comprised of 51% U.S. parts or components. Call the FTC at (415) 744-7920.

"I would like to register my product to get an R.N. Number?"
Call the Federal Trade Commission at (415) 744-7920.

"I have a question regarding trucking permits."
For California, call the Interstate Commerce Commission at (415) 744-6520.

"Where can I copyright my publication/book?"
TradePort has extensive information on Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights.

"I would like to establish my own freight forwarding company. Can you help?"
Contact Maritime Administration at 211 Main street, room 1112, San Francisco, CA 94105, tel: (415) 744-2580.

Where would I obtain information on classifications of products and documentation/licensing requirements to export merchandise?
TradeExpert's Classifying the Product can answer many of your questions, or you can contact the Department of Commerce where industry specialists can advise you on the classsifications of products and licensing. U.S.-flag vessel operators and freight forwarders can provide assistance in documentation requirements.

What carrier offers service to a particular country and do they have the special cargo handling equipment I need?
Transporting the Goods can link you directly to Freight Carriers, Forwarders and Customs Brokers or you can consult the list of U.S.-flag liner services and the corresponding list of U.S. carrier telephone numbers and addresses. Contact any MARAD transportation specialist or call MARAD's HELP Desk at (202) 336-5508 for more information.

What is the harbor maintenance fee? How is it used?
The U.S. Customs Service is authorized by the Water Resources Act of 1986 to assess a harbor maintenance fee on the value of commercial cargo loaded on or unloaded from a commercial vessel at ports covered by the Act. Proceeds of the harbor maintenance fee are made available to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the improvement and maintenance of U.S. ports and harbors. The fee is paid by the importers and exporters of cargoes. The fee is based on .125 percent of the value of the cargo. For information on the harbor maintenance fee call the U.S. Customs Service at (202) 927-0540.

What is cabotage?
Cabotage is the trade or transport of cargo in coastal waters between two points within a country. U.S. cabotage laws are referred to as the Jones Act. Cabotage laws are common to all countries with waterborne transportation systems.

Where can I obtain information on the Jones Act?
The actual interpretation and enforcement of the Jones Act is the responsibility of the U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Coast Guard. For general inquiries concerning coastwise laws contact:
Maritime Administration
Office of Ports and Domestic Shipping
(202) 366-4357

What is an SGS Inspection? Are preshipment inspections required?
The SGS Government Programs Inc. is an independent service company with offices worldwide. It carries out the majority of preshipment inspections. Preshipment inspection is an international program verifying that the quantity, quality, and price of purchased goods meet the import requirements of specific countries. According to SGS, the purpose of these inspections is to monitor purchases arranged by importers in these countries.

Quality and quantity are verified by the packing list and pro forma invoice. Price is evaluated based on the prevailing market price at the time specified in the conditions of sale. Verification of quality, quantity, and price also involves physical inspection.

The cost of preshipment inspection is paid by the importing country, or by the importer. The seller is only obligated to present the goods for inspection. Disputes over the final determinations of the SGS can be appealed by writing to the Appeals Committee, SGS New York.

For information on the countries that require preshipment inspections, contact:
SGS Government Programs Inc.
42 Broadway
New York, NY 10004
(212) 482-8700

Who can complete a bill of lading?
U.S.-flag carriers can prepare bills of lading. They also have value added services such as cargo status tracking and electronic data interchange (EDI). Freight forwarders also prepare bills of lading.

What is Cargo Preference?
Cargo preference is the reservation, by law, for transportation on U.S.-flag vessels, of all or a portion of oceanborne cargo which is sponsored directly or indirectly by the Federal Government.

Where do I get information on cargo preference laws and issues?
MARAD's Office of National Cargo and Compliance can supply information on cargo preference. Call (202) 366-4610 to obtain information on civilian cargoes, military cargoes and agricultural cargoes falling under cargo preference laws. You can also contact the MARAD HELP desk at (202) 366-5508 or MARAD's marketing organization, listed previously.

Who can tell me if a commodity that I am shipping is a hazardous material and possibly subject to certain restrictions or regulations?
Contact the Research and Special Programs Administration at (202) 366-0656.
 
 
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