What Is Importing? Definition and Guide

What is importing?

Importing involves bringing products or services into a country for sale that have been made elsewhere.

U.S. companies that buy products overseas and ship them into the United States for sale, or as part of a product that is being assembled in the United States, are importing.

Many small businesses import items that cannot be made in the United States economically, ranging from shoes to clothing to crafts, as well as larger items, such as furniture, and are then sold for high profit to local buyers.

Prohibited products and license requirements

U.S. Customs and Border Protection oversees the import of products to the United States to ensure they are permitted. Types of products that are prohibited from being brought into the country include, but are not limited to:

  • Dangerous toys
  • Illegal substances, such as Rohypnol and absinthe
  • Bush meat
  • Cars that do not provide occupants with ample protection
  • Dog or cat fur

Products that may be permitted to be imported (some are outright prohibited), but that may require a license or extra inspection to do so, include:

  • Firearms
  • Fish and wildlife
  • Hunting trophies
  • Pets
  • Plants and seeds

By the same token, some countries prohibit or restrict the export of what they consider to be protected goods, including:

  • Religious artifacts
  • Furs
  • Ivory
  • Counterfeit goods, such as designer purses and clothing

Before investing in products for import, consult a licensed customs broker to help ensure you are permitted to bring the products into the United States. A broker can also help you obtain any necessary licenses and calculate any taxes and duty fees that will need to be paid when the products enter the country.

What Is Importing FAQ

What is import and examples?

Import is the process of bringing external resources into a larger system. Examples of import include importing data from an outside source into a database, importing a library or module into a programming language, or importing goods from another country.

What is import and export?

Import and export refer to the buying and selling of goods and services between two countries or regions. The process involves the transfer of goods and services from one country or region to another in exchange for money or other goods and services. Imports refer to the goods and services that are brought into a country or region, while exports refer to the goods and services that are sent out of a country or region.