Import - Export as encountered and explained by a world traveler.

Import - Export

Import - Export as encountered and explained by a world traveler.

Import Export
Andys Tips and Related Links
Photos of how to package things to import or export

GENERAL SOURCE - Ways to find companies Andy's Favorite

Import Export
This is not a business for the feeble. Takes tons of diligence and is in the end a lot of work, but that is how a person earns money in the end. They work. You can buy retail in a developing country and sell retail in your own country. If you can accomplish this one time, then worry about getting the worlds greatest prices after you develop a system. Note that this is for the traveler that wants to be a casual importer or exporter and is not really for the large scale buyer and seller or trader.

- Biggest problem is the people in the other countries are dishonest.
I look for foreigners from USA, England, Australia, or New Zealand that have lived in the country for more then 2 years to assist. Still is dodgy. It may be possible to just go to the country and buy enough.
- SELLING the stuff. I have only found to work.

HELP FROM EXPATRIATES - I have had very little luck, better to go to the country and send home. I like suppliers or vendors that:

  1. Read and write in English

  2. Answer their emails daily.

  3. Are honest and greedy in some ways.

  4. That have lived in one location for over 2 years and have a permanent Visa or Citizenship in the country.



  1. Best if they have a business card, telephone, and email address.

  2. Email them from the location and ask them to reply.

  3. English skills or your native language is helpful.

  4. A business man is needed. A friend, girlfriend, or any of the other traveler normally does not work. There has to be a relationship that is of money.

EXPORT LOCATIONS - There are small cities that specialize in exporting.

  1. Panahachel, Guatemala

  2. Katmandu, Nepal


- Permanent Black Magic Marker
- Maybe packaging tape, but you can buy anywhere in the world.


- People will tell you to go here and go there and seem to think it should be easy for you. If it is a local then you have to figure whatever takes them 1 hour will take you about 3 hours and cost 3 times as much. Getting a local will not help, in fact it will make the item cost more. (The will normally take you to their cousin, uncle, or mother and make you feel obligate.) Favors is not the way to run a business.

- Taxes
- Import / Export Taxes
- Rules on Importing and Exporting.

- If you are buying retail, it is better to wait to pay until the whole order is in front of you. Always say you want it now and that you will wait. If they cannot just run and get it, they will not run and get it over the night, or some other time. The world does not think like you, and they either have it close or they do not have it. I would never wait for a couple of weeks for a product to come. Note that on products that your may be having custom made, sown, or alter this is a different situation. Never think that in another country you can place an order and they log it down and think about it. The person that screams the loudest gets the service.

 - Need to go to post office and ask or pick up packaging materials from
 INDIA - Normal post seems to require me to have a package sown shut in real cloth to ship to another country.
I will place inside the package the address of the person receiving the package. I do NOT put inside any type of invoice, cost, or something to indicate value.

- I do not think having patience and waiting works. Keep smiling and waiting but be noisy or you will be forever at the back of the line.

 - Drug suspected and the open. That is the last you will ever hear.
 - The post office breaks open and they do not send. Keep or throw away.
 - The handlers break open on purpose on the idea that it is valuable.
 - Not wrapped correctly and dropped in a bin for collection. Take to post office and have postage put on.
-  Stolen
- You trusted your friend to mail and they stole the package.
- You put the wrong address on package.
- You did NOT put the country on the package.

Click here for information on USA Customs

I talked to a shipping representative as of October o 2004

The said, that these go through in a Formal vs Informal way easily if?
0-2000 Value no problems
Up to 150 pounds easy.

 - I use normal post or maybe DHL.

Cheapest is by SEA

NORMAL POST: 2-5 types of normal post.

  1. Air Mail

  2. Surface or Sea

  3. Speed post

Best time to go to post office?
10 in the morning. This is a strange statement, but you will learn that finding offices open can be work. Before 10 is too early, after 10 and they start to go to lunch, and in the afternoon people do not work.

 - Normal post - Aeroquipa, Peru to Indiana, USA. About 3 weeks.
 - Normal post - Margoa, Goa, India to Orland, Indiana, USA - From December 6, 2003 to December 24, 2003 - 18 Days.
- DHL is about 5-6 days.

DHL Worldwide Express
   USA DHL Tracking

I talked with DHL on a shipment from Nepal on November 2, of 2004
They said that they guarantee 5 day delivery.
The worst guarantee he said was 7.

The normal more or less time for general mail is 21 days.

DHL will get through customs quicker if less than 150 pound or less than 2000 U.S. Dollars in Value.

Do not believe or trust this data, it is just for guidance and could and will be different.

LABELING - If you wish the best label would be "Sample." or "Personal Items." The customs has exact guidelines on this. Click here for information on Customs and Labeling


  1. Watch the postmaster affix postage.

  2. Closer to Ocean maybe the cheaper the postage.

  3. Weigh the package at a bakery, fish supply store, grain place, or anywhere they have a scales prior to shipping to stop a heavy thumb.

  4. The weight on the package should coordinate or align with the cost of stamps!

  5. Put the country and the continent on the package.

  6. It would be best to put the country and continent you are sending the package in both the local language or country language and your own language.

The size of the order to ship is debatable. I will learn the hard way I expect.

Shipping Base-Camp
I believe it would be good to have a shipping base-camp or a location where you ship packages from or send from. Normally this would be your supplier and then it would be nice if your supplier sent the packages and the return mailing address was that of your supplier. If there is a communications between your supplier and you the supplier could make complaints, receive register receipts, and other help.

I use or they can mail the money to you in your home country and a friend or relative can deposit the money in your account, then you can remove the money by ATM machine. (See Money)

HOW TO PAY A PERSON IN ANOTHER COUNTRY? will work for some countries but probably not for the country you want to buy from, one solution I use is to send an ATM card to the person you wish to pay. Deposit the money in the account and they can extract the money in the other country. It is often very difficult to pay a person in some countries, there is a reason. The countries that are the most difficult is where the cultures are the most dishonest. Better for you to receive your goods, before you send money. (See Money)

PERSONAL CHECK - This is a good way and used very common to buy silver from Taxco, Mexico.
WESTERN UNION - This is most popular with all the vendors, but is very expensive as a percentage of cost.
SEND VENDOR ATM CARD - I have sent my ATM card to a friend in Arequipa, Peru. She extracts money and buys and sends.

- REFUNDS- Do not ever expect a refund, it is not a know concept except mainly in USA, England, Australia, New Zealand.
- DEPOSITS - I try to never give deposits. It will take longer to accomplish. If the item you want is not available go to the city where it is located and buy. Buy what is in stock or they can go get easily. Even in poor countries they will trust a reputable person with merchandise.
- DEPOSITS ON CLOTHES - Buying or paying for the cloth is OK. Do not fund the labor.

This means you have lost. This is just a waste of time and mental energy. If someone says you can complain, or register a complaint of a package does not arrive, this is naive, and you should do business with another person.


  1. Have your design ready for anything you wish made or sown. If you do not the time you spend in the city will be long and a waste of time and money. I prepare the stuff as I travel and stop at a place to have made. Do not start on anything unless you have all the pieces or parts needed.



  1. Glue stick to attach stamps or attach paper or labels to package

  2. Permanent Ink markers

  3. Needle and thread in India to sew shut packs.

  4. Cord to put around packs.

  5. Packing tape

  6. Envelopes to mail letters.

  7. Plastic Drops to seal letters to show if opened or left closed


If I have a photo and an example.

A. I can SHOW TO TAXI DRIVER. offer to pay him money if he finds what you need.
B. Commission a taxi by the hour to find the product, and a bonus for each location he finds.

1. Give copies of photos.
2. Donate the example to the taxi driver, they will not return the copy.
3. Meet taxis in early morning when the business open, or they will probably not show up 50 percent of the time.


1. I start out with 10.
2. I go to 50
3. I go to 100.
4. Very dangerous to go big fast.

BUYING PROBLEMS OR DANGERS - You can go to jail!

If you have a large order and they do bad quality, they will still expect you to pay. They can call the police on you to pay for something you do not want, the police will side with the local person, do not expect the honesty and good faith responsible behavior of western world. They will try to lie, cheat, or extort you to pay.


- The biggest problem is the people keeping or losing the example.
Do not trust them with the example!

The example must be perfect!

  1. A lot of countries can copy, but have trouble making original works.

  2. You need to take care with samples and not allow them to keep them.

  3. 2-5 samples may be needed so you can shop around for the best company to copy.

  4. Time is of essence and they will keep you sample or tear apart your sample.

- CLOTHING OR CLOTH - The colors can bleed and cause damage.
- WEIGHT - It will often cost you twice what you paid to ship something home. Find out how much to ship before buy and not after.
- REFUNDS - I do not think 80 percent of the world knows what this means, and would never do so.
- INVOICES AND PACKAGE SLIPS - This is great way to pay a big tax on entry or leaving a country. I do not put any type of laundry list inside the package.

TIME - HOW LONG? How much time to give the vendor to complete or fill the order?
Clothing - Custom made. Allow 14 days minimum. It will be hard to believe how many problems you will have. For sure if they say it will take 10 days, the minimum time to allow for is 20. But do not give allot that much time, and do not let them believe they have time.

This can be the kiss of death for a beginning exporter. If you purchase shirts, bags, or have thing custom made and they make the whole lot wrong, they will still expect you to pay and you will not be able to sell the product.


  1. If very serious get a few bank accounts and ATM cards to hand to your prospective vendors. You can bank by mail and deposit money into the account.

- I use National City Bank of Indiana and many other states. I make the bank the payee and send to my home branch with the account number in the memo. So I write a check over the internet and they send it to themselves and deposit to the account number in the memo section. Be careful on this. It took about 2-3 weeks for the check to be deposited. If you have friends or parents that you trust for this it can work, but better to do without their help. (It is necessary you have a checking account and the service charges were free with them.) So in the end a transfer cost me nothing. I do often have to download a 128 Bit Encryption program from Microsoft to get the online banking to work.


  1. A good supplier will fix problems, ask them to discount. You may find they will fix a problem before they will discount. So you can get them to discount on the spot, but in your home country that is not possible. The cost of labor is nothing and a discount is money, therefore they would rather fix. But a good supplier will discount for their mistakes, a bad one will force or extort you to pay. Often you are ready to go and you find a problem.


  1. The cost of shipping may be cheaper closer to the coast.

  2. The cost of shipping may change from state to state.

  3. You must package things inside a white cloth bag that is sown around your package.

  4. I had the postmaster in Hampi, Karnataka, India say it took 3-4 months for Sea and the persons in Hospet said it took 30-40 days. You will have a different opinion every time you ask.

  5. Watch the scales for overweighing and then the postmaster pockets the difference.

  6. 4.9 Kilos cost about 1100 Rupees in January of 2004 to ship to the USA with normal post.

  7. Labor wages are about 100 Rupees per day.

  8. In the monsoon season labor prices will be cheaper and more available.

  9. Watch and make sure the postage stamps are affixed before you leave, or better yet do it yourself.

  10. Do not think the India people know how to send a package. They do not have the money to send package unless they are rich and if they are rich they are probably not doing the labor.

  11. I do not like courier company except for world wide names like UPS or DHL. How would I hold accountable a company in India when I am in the USA for a package not received.

  12. The India people put hard plastic on the seams of the sown package to show they have not been tampered with. I paid 20 rupees per package, but I would say that 5 is probably fair. The did mine in the post office, but I am not sure where to do this,

  13. Placing a cord around a package may be a good idea. Burn the joints with a match if you use nylon cord and they will not be able to untie.

  14. I sent 1 packages from Hospet, near Hampi, Karnataka India on the 15 of January 2004 by SEA.
    Sent 1/14/2004 Arrived 3/13/04 mailed first package. 4.9 kilos for 1100 Rupees from Hospet near Hampi India. -
    Mailed 2nd package number 2 from Sawegram on January 19 1295 Rupees 6.7 Kilos Surface Shipping Said 15 days.

  15. How to find post office. Sometime it is easiest to take a taxi.

  16. Most courier and shipping companies will be located close to post office.

  17. I kept saying I wanted to send my package by Sea or Ocean and they finally said what was available is "Surface." which I realize is the same.

  18. They have 3 types of regular post in India. Air, Speedpost, and Sea or Surface. There may be more, but hard to find people that speak in English with patience enough to help.

  19. The man from the post office in Sewagram did not know that the USA was in North America. He thought it was in Europe. This was a big problem, because he may have put the wrong postage on, and may have sent it to the wrong continent.

  20. The ask me what is in the package and I more or less just say personal items and books. This is the answer they seem to like to hear.

  21. They have a registered mail here in India. I send the package by registered mail, and they give me a receipt, but I am not here in India living and there is no way to check or complain. It would be good to have a base.



  1. General post works to send packages to the USA. Takes about 3 weeks.

NEPAL EXPORT NOTES: Probably only in Kathmandu, Nepal

Procedure for shipping with all customs forms:

  1. Package the products or re-sell items.