When a company decides to import, it is essential that it has considered the type of products it will import, as that will influence whether the importation process is difficult or not.
Importing products does not always follow the same process. For example, importing perfume bottles is not the same as importing masks; an item currently on everyone’s lips and in high demand.
Therefore, each type of product must meet certain requirements in order to cross borders from one country to another. These cross-border requirements will determine whether a product is difficult to import or not. This is further influenced by the category of the merchandise, the legislation (national and international) that it must comply with, the documentation that is required for its transportation and the set of regulations that the product must meet before, during and after importation.
These requirements give rise to many groups of products that are fairly straight forward to import (beyond the usual problems that can arise in any import process and that are easily solved by leaving the process in the hands of a specialized sourcing partner).
However, there is another group of products that we could call products that are difficult to import, and that refer to goods that require a special process in order to be imported.
Importing Dangerous Goods
Of the products that are difficult to import, dangerous goods are possibly the best known, although we sometimes confuse them with prohibited products.
Among goods classified as dangerous, we find products such as cleaning supplies, flammable liquids, aerosols, perfumes or explosives (ammunition). These are products that can put health, safety or the environment at risk as they are considered to adversely affect the ozone layer.
It is important to mention the criterion for the safeguarding of the ozone layer since, it is considered that exporting products that can destroy it is prohibited. However, there are exceptions for “regulated substances intended to be used as raw materials or as transformation agents, products and devices containing hydrochlorofluorocarbons or regulated substances intended for laboratory and analytical uses”.
In the case where we wish to import dangerous goods that can benefit from such an exception, we must start the request for licenses one year before beginning importation, and present reports on the proposed logistics and other formalities.
Importing Restricted and Prohibited Goods.
For people who are not experts in sourcing, it is common to confuse certain dangerous goods with restricted or prohibited goods.
Within this broad group of products, are the categories of jewelry, precious stones, antiques, tobacco, alcoholic beverages, pharmaceuticals, animals (or furs) and, of course, weapons, drugs and cash.
The restriction and non-prohibition of importing some of these products depends on each country. In Spain, for example, it is possible to export jewelry and precious stones in accordance with established customs regulations.
Importing Special Merchandise.
Special goods are different in each country, since they are usually related to the importance they carry in the national economy. In Spain, for example, olive oil, the second most exported product in the country, is a clear example of special merchandise.
But just because it is a special merchandise does not mean that it cannot be imported and/or exported. It must simply meet specific rules determined by the country of origin.
As we can see, the scope of difficulty of successful importation goes far beyond the usual procedures that any international purchasing process can generate. It is not only about knowing the step-by-step process of each type of product, but also having previous experience that alerts you to the possible problems and therefore, allows you to manage incidents as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
Any import process can be complicated if not carried out by a specialized purchasing agent. However, when we intend to buy products that are difficult to import, having a good sourcing strategy is even more important.
As sourcing experts, we have been importing various products from China to different countries in Europe for over 15 years. Our goal is, and always will be, that our customers benefit from the advantages of a successful importation process, regardless of whether the product is difficult to import or not.