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Import guide

Importing goods commercially from countries outside Europe

Are you about to start importing goods commercially from countries outside the EU? There are a number of things to think about before beginning.

1. Find out what regulations and customs duties apply

Check whether you need a license to import the goods. Otherwise, you may have problems when they arrive at the border. Also, see what the customs duties are, so that you include them in your financial calculations.

2. Apply for an EORI number

To import goods into Sweden, Denmark and Finland, you need an EORI number. EORI numbers are used when doing business with a customs authority of any EU Member State. To obtain your EORI number, apply to Finnish Customs.

3. Think about whether you need customs credit

If you intend to import regularly, it is advisable to apply for customs credit. Tullverket will then send an invoice for duty and VAT on imports directly to you. If you do not have customs credit, the forwarder will have to pay VAT and duty and then invoice it on; you will then incur a payment handling charge. If you have your own credit license, you avoid having to pay these charges.

4. Specify who is to pay the cost of shipping

Are you to bear the cost of shipping all the way? Or is the supplier to pay a share of the shipping costs in the country of dispatch, for example, collection, terminal fees and other charges? The terms and conditions of delivery should be clearly detailed in the agreement with the supplier of the products you are to import. Obviously, it's convenient to have shipping organized end-to-end. The drawback is that you have no control over method of transport, the logistics supplier used and how long it will take to get the goods to you. The supplier may not choose the most cost-efficient method either. So you should think about how much control you want over the shipping process.

5. Decide how the goods are to be packed

Good packing is the be-all and end-all where delivering goods is concerned, whether the goods are to be sent inside the country, or come from the other side of the world. If sea transport is used, it is important for a dehumidifying agent to be packed inside the boxes if the product is sensitive to damp. Discuss with the product supplier how the goods are to be packed and specify this in your agreement if appropriate.

6. Obtain quotations from logistics suppliers

The mode of transport chosen will be based entirely on the size of shipment, the value of the goods and the lead time that your shipment allows. In addition, different methods of s
hipping may suit different types of product. Some may have to be air-freighted, while others can go by sea and take a month to arrive. In many cases, a combination of transport modes is a good solution. When obtaining quotations from logistics suppliers, it is also important to ask whether all costs are included or whether any additional expense will be involved.

7. Consider transit insurance

Check whether you have, or need, transit insurance. Insurance is not a must-have. But remember that all carriers and forwarders only bear limited liability for your goods under NSAB 2000 (the General Conditions of the Nordic Association of Freight Forwarders). According to these conditions, the financial liability of the forwarder is calculated solely by weight, not value. The most common solution is to take out transit insurance to supplement business insurance. The logistics supplier may also sell transit insurance for a particular delivery or for all deliveries under its auspices.

8. How should your goods be looked after once they arrive in the country?

When your goods arrive in the country, someone has to look after them, address them and make sure they are sent on. You can either do it yourself, or you can engage a third-party logistics (TPL) supplier to do it for you. If you don't want to pay duty and import VAT before the goods leave the warehouse, you must engage a logistics supplier with its own customs warehouse. A customs warehouse requires a special license, so most importers procure this as a service.

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