Whether you are a seasoned importer or a novice, it is often difficult to know what standards to follow when importing goods from a country outside the European Union.

Before embarking on this adventure, it is important to understand that importing and exporting is a profession in its own right and often very administrative. It is for these reasons that it is important to understand the basics.

Here are the 6 steps to follow when you import from a country outside the European zone.

Step 1: Apply for an EORI number

Before you can even enter into a commercial operation, you will need to apply for an EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number for your company.

The EORI number is a European identifier specific to your company (based on your SIRET number) that will allow you to make your various declarations to the customs authorities.

To apply for an EORI number, you will need to fill out a specific registration application form Cerfa 13930*01.

Once you have obtained your registration number, you now have the “right” to import goods into France.

Step 2: Find a supplier.

When you make the choice to import goods, the first thing you have to do is to find a supplier that meets your needs. Let’s assume that you have already identified the country of origin of the goods and the supplier.

However, there are a few things to check:

  • Check that the goods can be taken out of the country of origin. There are certain types of products that cannot leave the country of export because they are protected.

    For example: products related to national heritage and products protected by conventions. For example, products concerning endangered wildlife are often forbidden to be exported.

  • Check that your supplier has all the necessary authorizations to export the goods. In Asia, for example, your supplier must provide you with an export license or an exporter identification number. If he is not able to do so, there is surely a problem and you should be suspicious.

Step 3: Can the product enter the European Union and especially France?

There are several different customs classes and not all goods are subject to the same customs clearance rules. It is therefore important for you to find out about this and to identify the customs code and the country of origin of the goods. To do this, you can request a certificate of origin from the supplier and verify that it is legal to import the goods through customs.

Once you have access to this information, you will be able to find out about the duties and taxes applied.

Step n°4 : Organize the transport of the goods.

Now that the supplier has been found and you have checked the customs rules. You will have to organize the transport of the goods. Depending on the country of origin, you will import your goods by sea, air or land.

Once the mode of transport is selected, you will have to negotiate with your supplier which Incoterm to use for the operation. Incoterms define the obligations of the seller and the buyer in a commercial transaction: delivery, insurance, transport, risks and mandatory documents. It is important to choose an Incoterm that suits you and your supplier in order to share the risk during the transport.

You will find a complete description of Incoterms in another article: Incoterms Quesako

Step 5: Negotiate purchasing and payment terms

Like every commercial operation, there is a part of negotiation. After having negotiated the Incoterm, you will have to negotiate the shipping time, the packaging and the terms in case of non-conforming or defective goods as well as the list of documents you will need to import.

It is important to note that there are certain documents that you will need to have: invoice, packing list and the Bill of Lading. You can find this list here : Documents to be provided

Payment terms are also key when importing. We recommend every importer to avoid payment on order. If there is a problem or your supplier is fraudulent, it will be difficult if not impossible to recover the payment once it is gone.

There are different solutions you can consider:

  • Use the Tulyp payment solution. Our solution allows you to secure the payment and release the funds when your supplier proves that he has sent the goods.
  • Make a compromise: payment of a deposit and payment of the balance upon receipt.
  • Contact your bank to obtain a bank guarantee: payment against document, letter of credit, stand-by letter of credit.

Step n°6 : The transport of the goods

Once the payment is negotiated and your supplier is ready to ship the goods, you will have to organize the transport according to the Incoterm used. You will then give the conditions of the transport to the company in charge: carrier or customs agent to carry out the customs clearance.

Here is the information to give him:

  • The transport documents.
  • Indicate the imported goods, your EORI number and your VAT number.

The customs declarant will then take care of the customs clearance of the goods as well as the import customs declaration.

By following these steps you should be ready to import goods from countries outside the European zone. It is important to be accompanied during these operations by experts in order to be able to navigate quietly through the various administrative formalities.

Tulyp is a BtoB payment and financing solution that supports importers and exporters on a daily basis. As a FinTech specialized in Trade Finance, we support them in their payment guarantee, financing and liquidity issues. If you have any questions, please contact us. One of our experts will contact you within 24 hours.