In short I am looking for help/advice and areas of resource to help me to become an independent export agent.
Let me briefly introduce myself, I am Adam from Bournemouth. I have spent the last year working in China on several different projects. Previous to that I spent 8 years in financial services, which I hated!
Over the past two weeks I have been teaching myself mainly via online resources to become an import/export agent. In the hope that I can help companies maximise their growth by exploring foreign markets like China.
I believe it is a good time to enter this market, given the governments commitment to reaching 1t worth of export by 2020. Although my experience in China wasn’t directly connected with importing & exporting I believe my knowledge of the culture, customs etc will help me.
The trouble is, I know very little, and want to learn fast. I have found lots online to begin understanding how to export but very little about the actual broker/agent process.
I appreciate any advice/help anyone can offer.
It’s not as easy as you may think. Yes its easy to start an Export / Import Agency but there are lots of terms and conditions you need to know before you start and it would be an idea to go on a course specifically designed for people like yourself like exporting / exporting explained, simplified Import / Export Customs procedures, the list goes on my friend. There are thousands of export agents here in the UK all fighting for business, the older established ones always get the rich pickings unfortunately. China is one of the main markets everyone tries to get into so you will find the competition is very stiff and hard to keep up with. That’s not trying to put you off in anyway but I know many very experienced freight people that have tried to go it alone and fell at the first hurdle. Getting credit with shipping lines will be massively hard to do..new company..no history means payments up front before docs and goods releases could lose you business rather than gain it. If you’ve got financial backing and I mean a lot of backing then that’s a start, but courses, registering with BIFA (British International Freight Association) is advisable as well, registering for VAT, etc etc I could go on all day possibly.
I hope this hasn’t put you off but you need to understand the guts of doing this before you go head first into it.
Business Development Manager
STI Global Logistics Ltd
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This sounds like an interesting venture for you. We too see the potential growth in export/import trade over the coming years so I think your business idea is good.
I would recommend setting yourself up with an e-z Consign account via the www.4-exim.com website. It will enable you to produce a full range of export documents in the internationally recognised format and also connects to HMRC for export declarations and your local Chamber of Commerce for certified documents.
Other tasks you begin now would be to get yourself registered with HMRC as your business will require an EORI number and CHIEF Role and Location to be able to make export declarations. You should be able to find the forms and details on the HMRC website but I can help further if needed.
Good luck and keep us posted.
You will find the training courses offered by BIFA as mentioned (www.bifa.org) useful to you if you are new to freight forwarding. We would also recommend that you invest in subscribing to the UK Tariff approx. £300 p.a. which will give you access to the CHIEF codes, Entry completion rules and commodity codes.
We can provide a web enabled Customs clearance application supporting the desktop web browser versions of. Internet Explorer Ver. 7 or above, ‘Google Chrome ‘ , ‘Firefox’, ‘Opera’ and ‘Safari’ . You would need the ability to open PDF, CSV and RTF (Word) documents. Other web browser options may work e.g. blackberry but are not supported by us.
The system is available and supported 24/365. The system takes your data and converts it to EDIFACT, validates the data, then submits and receives responses back from CHIEF, the central UK Customs computer and keeps a permanent accessible record.
The cost of our software would be from £110 per month.
So as already indicated by Ian there are a lot of factors and costs to take into account. In addition to the fact that making customs declarations is a legal declaration and is subject to civil and worst case criminal penalties if found to be infringing the law imposed by the EU, HMRC and other Govt. Depts.
Having said all that it is a dynamic and exciting industry to be involved in and a very addictive for those of us who have been it a long time. I often talk about it as most people don’t appreciate or realise the whole supply chain process, when they buy their item from the shop or the internet. It does its job so well, that it acts ‘behind the scenes’ and is thus ‘forgotten’ or ‘overlooked’ by most people.
Unfortunately like most things it only gets highlighted when it goes wrong / has delays / or causes public consultation e.g. new airport/port/roads
Hope that helps