I want to export apparel to USA for the first time - where do I start?

The Austrade website contains general advice on how to prepare for export and you can also refer to procedural advice from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection , including the comprehensive Export Control Manual .

By engaging a freight forwarder they can assist you with lodgement of export declarations , and organising freight . You can also refer to the Austrade website for information on getting paid and risk management and other considerations.

To answer your question of who is responsible for what, it depends on the situation and the Incoterms you use. Incoterms are a set of three-letter acronyms that divide responsibility and risk between buyers and sellers in international trade.

Incoterms have been put together by the International Chamber of Commerce and you can refer to this link for a table that breaks down the responsibilities .

You should be using Incoterms when engaging in international trade as, in addition to breaking down language barriers, they clearly define:

  • Who is responsible for the cost of transporting the goods, including insurance, taxes and duties
  • Where the goods should be picked up from and transported to
  • Who is responsible for the goods at each step during transportation

Note that they do not define when you get paid and this needs to be stipulated separately.

For imports into the USA, there needs to be an 'importer of record' responsible for the duties taxes and fees levied by US Customs. This is generally a company or entity with a physical address and IRS registration in the USA. You can speak to the buyer about this or, if they aren't willing to be listed as the receiver the goods, a freight forwarder here in Australia with a presence in the USA.

According to this link from the US Customs and Border Protection website, a foreign company exporting to the United States does not need to have an 'importer of record' if they have a 'resident' agent appointed to act on their behalf such as a Customs Broker named through CBP 'Power of Attorney' in the USA. This link to the DHL – US Customs Import Guide gives an overview of their Importer of Record service and POA requests (page 5).

The US CBP may inspect the goods for compliance with US textile and apparel regulations. See below information sourced from: https://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Export-markets/Countries/United-States-of-America/Doing-business/Tariffs-and-regulations

"Textiles and apparel must list country of origin, fibre content and fabric care instructions. The US Federal Trade Commission has produced a guide to help companies comply with federal labelling requirements for textiles and wool products. Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts."

For general advice on exporting, see Guide to Exporting.