Importing to the USA as a Foreign Importer of Record
In order to import goods into the US and pay the required customs taxes/duties when your goods arrive from overseas, you need to provide two contacts based in the country you’re shipping to:
- Importer of record - responsible for paying customs and duties, plus any liabilities related to the customs.
- Ultimate consignee - that’s essentially the official contact for the customs authority if there’s any problem.
- If you are shipping FBA, Amazon WILL NOT serve as your consignee, so this is of extra importance.
Most US imports are done by US companies - it's simply the most straightforward way of importing goods because the CBPA (Customs Border and Protection Agency) will only approve shipments for companies that have an American Tax ID/ EIN.
Many companies get concerned that they won't be able to import into the US if their business is not based in the US and dont have an ID/EIN.
But have no fear - you can indeed import into the US - as long as you establish your company as a Foreign Importer of Record.
The first thing you'll need to do is get your non US based company set up with an EIN. Here's how:
1) US Mailing Address
If your company is based outside of the US, then it's unlikely you have a US address. If you have friends in the US, ask if you can borrow theirs, or there are services you can pay to receive mail for your company. We've heard good things from customers about USAMail1, but feel free to search around for one that works best for you.
2) SS-4 Form (Articles of Incorporation)
You will need to complete this form in order to obtain an EIN (tax ID number).
Don't worry if it's not perfect - you don't actually need to file the form; you'll just need the information when you call the IRS to get your EIN.
3) Call the IRS to get an EIN (Employee Identification Number)
Once you have a US address and have filled out the SS-4, you can call the IRS for a tax ID number.
- Call the IRS at 267-941-1099. This is not a toll-free number, and it’s available from 6 AM to 11 PM Eastern Time Monday through Friday.
- You’ll have to provide answers to approximately 8 questions - the call will take less than 20 minutes.
- At the end of the conversation, you’ll receive your free EIN number!
You can learn more on the IRS website.
Once you have your EIN number, you'll need a Customs Assigned Number. Your customs broker (or, if you've booked customs through Freightos, then our team) can help you get the Customs Assigned Number once you provide the following:
1) Customs POA (Power of Attorney)
This will be provided by your forwarder (or Freightos, if you've booked with us)
2) Picture ID
3) New ID/EIN of your company (see above)
4) Some customs brokers will need a copy of the letter that the IRS will send to your US address after they've assigned you an EIN. This can take 3-4 weeks to arrive, so do this in advance.
And that's how you can import as an established Foreign Importer of Record!
PS: Some Freight Forwarders & Customs Brokers will help you complete the below service for a fee, though not all!
PSS: Setting your company up as a Foreign Importer will link it with the United States IRS, which can have other impacts on your company. Please check with your local accountant/lawyer.