1. Compliance with U.S. Law
First things first. Make sure you are not selling to the bad guys. Whether you are selling seemingly dangerous items like military surplus (very useful for terrorists) or completely innocent things like arcade games, you have to make sure the buyer is somebody you can sell to.
As the principal beneficiary of the sale, you are required to determine if the product is regulated by any government agency. You are also required to perform due diligence to identify the end-user and end-use of the product. You may not sell if the buyer or end-user is in the U.S. Denied Party List . This is the case with all shipments but the likelihood is somewhat higher with exports to the Middle East.
2. Compliance with the Destination Country’s Laws
An importer in the destination country must make sure that the goods they are purchasing are compliant with local rules. This is not related to shipping, but rather the safety of the goods to be distributed in a given country. Most countries have safety standards in place. The United States, for example, heavily regulates imports into the country.
However, compliance with the regulation is not always enforced at the time of importation. While customs enforces some local regulations, generally the distributor and/or importer are required to uphold compliance, even if Customs overlooks it or is otherwise unable to enforce it. For example, California enforces specific limits on formaldehyde present in hardwood flooring. If you are distributing flooring in California, you must ensure that it is compliant and certified according to California’s rules.
However, as a federal agency that is majorly concerned with compliance of imports into the country and not the state, the U.S. Customs authority would not necessarily enforce or check this certification at the time of import. State-specific enforcement would not be feasible either. After all, there is no way to tell in which state the goods would end up after being imported into one.
Diligent importers would source their hardwood flooring from companies that provide certification of compliance with both federal (U.S.) and state (California) standards. The same is true of many countries, including those in the Middle East. The compliance with regulation is the responsibility of the importer and/or distributor, which is generally not a shipping issue and would have already come up during the sale.
Since the buyers or importers have to make sure they can import the goods to their countries, compliance would largely be their responsibility. They may request specific information or certifications to make sure the goods are compliant. An example would be a Certificate of Conformity (COC) which certifies compliance of the product with the country’s laws. A COC is issued by third-party agencies like Intertek, Cotecna, and SGS. A COC is required by several countries like: Algeria, Mongolia, Belarus, Kenya, Kuwait, Russia, and others.
3. Compliance with Documentary Requirements
As an international seller or exporter, you are required to provide proper documentation for the clearance of the goods with the destination country’s Customs Agency. Every time you ship from one country to another, you must provide documents like these:
- Commercial Invoice
- Packing List
- Certificate of Origin (COO)
- Bill of Lading (BOL)
- Halal Certification
Under most Incoterms, as a seller, you are required to provide these documents. Some Incoterms, however, allow you to charge for some of the documents.
Things to Consider / Additional Facts
- Each country in the Middle East has its own list of products that the country considers to be “regulated.”
- Each country also has a list of exempted products, which means these items do not need any certification for importation.
- Some of these countries will have a list of completely prohibited products, which cannot be imported to their country under any circumstances.
Countries With Regulatory Programs
-ICIGI Pre-Importation Inspection
-Testing & Certification of Goods to Iraq
-SASO Certificate of Conformity
-KUCAS- Kuwait Conformity Assurance Scheme
-QGOSM Certificate of Conformity- Qatar General Organization for Standards and Metrology
-KSQCA Certification- The Kurdistan Standardization and Quality Control Administration
-IRI Conformity Verification- Industrial Research Institute of Lebanon Pre-Shipment Programme
-Syrian Product Conformity Assessment and Verification of Price and Origin