Want to Start An Import Business? Follow these 5 Steps
Starting an import business isn't as complicated as it seems
Imported goods are integral to the way many Australians live. We use imported phones, computers, food, clothing and other consumer goods in our everyday lives. It’s not a stretch to say that we wouldn’t have the majority of the possessions we have now if it weren’t for the businesses that import products. Import businesses are one of the most important in the country, and it won’t come as a surprise to know that it’s also one of the most lucrative.
However, getting your head around customs law, logistics and the international market may seem like a minefield, but starting an import business is much easier than many would think.
Below is a 5-step startup guide to put your import business idea into action.
1. Make a plan
A wise man once said, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Having a thoughtful business plan will be your master key to running a successful business. For example, your business plan may layout the details of your target customers, how and why your business will attract customers, the goods that will be imported then sold on and potential substitutes for these products from other global regions. A business plan provides your vision with structure, and way to organise all the other decisions you will have to make as a business owner.
2. Register your business
Always register your business. Although this may be the most obvious step, it’s one that can’t be neglected. Registration is essential as an ABN will need to be supplied to Customs when international goods enter the country.
Depending on your business structure, you may need to set up a company or register trademarks for your business. There are generally three kinds of business structure which your business could fall under, being a sole trader, partnership, or a company. The type of structure you choose will affect your tax, income and personal liability, so choose wisely!
3. Laws, licenses and permits
There is no general license requirement for an import business to legally operate in Australia. However, all goods imported must be cleared through the Australian border. In addition, subject to the types and conditions of the goods entering Australia, you may need to obtain the relevant import permits before the goods arrive in Australia. If you do not pay the correct tariff or customs duty on your goods, the Government will not hesitate to enforce it (and this could leave you with a large tax debt. You should also pay attention to other requirements such as labelling and quarantine requirements for certain types of goods.
Unlike a lot of other industries, a successful import business owner will need to know not only the laws in Australia, but also the export laws in the country the goods are coming from, and potentially the laws of the substitute regions. To get your head around the different laws which could apply to you, a business lawyer can provide you with some solid advice.
It’s always a good idea to have adequate protection for your business through having the right insurance. Apart from general insurance policies to cover your business operations, such as employee insurance, you may also need specific insurance policies to protect your cargo and the imported goods.
5. Always keep an eye on your work
Starting a new business is not itself a difficult process, it’s maintaining it that’s hard work and leads to success. You must continually monitor and review your processes and systems to ensure that you are meeting market and legal standards. To do this, it’s likely that you will need a small business lawyer to advise you on your processes, compliance and assist you in growing your business.
The import/export industry is regulated by a huge number of laws and rules, but which ones apply to you depend on the type and conditions of the import goods. Beyond complying with the law, it’s also important to ensure that the imported goods are safe and up to the required standard for your customers.
Have more questions? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.
Charlie is a Legal Intern at Lawpath working with the content team. With an interest in corporate finance and commercial law, he is currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Australian Law at the University of Technology in Sydney.