Import License For Different Countries

Import License For Different Countries: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

If you’re importing from China, it is important to know the requirements for import licenses for different countries.

This way, you will prevent unnecessary delays and inconveniences that come with customs clearance.

Let me take you through everything you need to know about the import license.

What is an Import License?

Import license refers to an official document issued by a nation’s government.

This document authorizes the importation of particular goods into a territory of a specific country.

An import license specifies the number of goods you need to transport.

In principle, carriers ensure they hardly exceed the already determined quota.

 Import license

Import license

Why is Import License Important in International Shipping?

Primarily, different countries have varied policies guiding the importation of commodities from numerous destinations.

Therefore, the essence of import license becomes apparent in international shipping.

One of the importance of this document is it helps in regulating the commodities allowed in a country.

Certain commodities may be restricted in a particular territory or country, subject to a specific quota or monitoring.

For instance, HAZMAT shipments must meet certain conditions before they are allowed inside a country. Hence an ideal way of enforcing such regulations is by using import licenses.

Another significance of import license is it helps in protecting domestic manufacturing from foreign competition.

Ideally, an import license specifies the quantity or volume of imports permissible in a particular country.

Moreover, the total volume acceptable should never exceed the quota.

Considerably, this helps in regulating the number of imports.

This safeguards the local industries from foreign competition, which would otherwise dilute the market.

Who Provides an Import License?

The national government of the destination country is responsible for issuing import licenses.

There’s a specific agency in every country mandated by the government to issue this official document.

It provides this document after careful assessment of your application.

In essence, the national government ensures your application meets the required standards before issuing this document.

When do you need an Import License?

Different circumstances define the elements under which an import license becomes a necessity.

These factors may vary from one country to another.

However, the common instances when this document becomes essential include the following;

1. When you’re importing commodities for purposes of reselling and not necessarily for personal use.

In this instance, it implies you are importing the goods for commercial purposes and not essentially for domestic use.

Thus there’s a need to obtain approval from the government to allow you to import the commodities.

2. When value of the consignment, you’re importing exceeds the stipulated limit.

In most countries, there is a limit under which you can import items from a foreign land without the need for this document.

The value often varies from country to country.

Thus in case, your shipment exceeds the limit, you’ll require to obtain the import license.

3. When you want to receive or make international payments for imported goods

Several financial institutions often request for an import license before you make or receive international payments for the commodities.

It is a way to ascertain the authenticity of the transaction.

4. When you have more than three imports in a calendar year.

It also varies from country to country.

Some will always request you to obtain an import license when you surpass three imports in a year.

What are the Contents of an Import License?

The contents of an import license often vary from one issuing country to another.

However, there are basic information, which the document must capture across the board, including the following;

  • Name and the address of both the consignor and importer
  • Details of the responsible official agency
  • Country of origin
  • Declared point of entry for the consignment
  • Quantity of the consignment
  • Name of the commodities (Scientific name where applicable)
  • Type of material
  • Any additional information if applicable
  • Official stamp of the responsible issuing body

 Certificate of importer

Certificate of importer

Are Import Licenses the same for Different Countries?


Import licenses vary from country to country.

Each country has specifics regarding the commodities you need to import.

Therefore, it makes it apparent for every country to design a unique import document.

Nonetheless, there could be a few elements, which can be similar in import documents issued in different countries.

Is there a Cost for Obtaining an Import License?

It depends on the specific country you are applying to this official document from.

In some countries, you do not need to pay any amount of money to obtain it.

All you need is to ensure you provide the correct details regarding the consignment you’re importing.

However, in other countries, you can be required to pay a facilitation fee to obtain an import license.

Thus the essence of inquiring from the respective destination country for certainty regarding cost.

Is Import License Mandatory in International Shipping?

Not in entirety.

The need for import license in international shipping is based on various factors.

These may include the value of the shipment, purpose (commercial or domestic), types of goods, and destination country.

Ideally, there are some countries, which do not necessarily require you to present this document when importing goods.

Do you Apply for an Import License in your Business or Personal Name?

The choice, in this case, is entirely dependent on your preference.

You need to figure out whether you are importing goods for commercial or domestic purposes.

If you’re importing goods to resell, generate income, and pay taxes, it would be ideal for applying for the license in your business name.

Nevertheless, the name on the commercial invoice must always match the name on your import license.

How do you Apply for an Import License?

The application for this document in most countries is made electronically.

The agency issuing import license have platforms, which you need to access, fill the details, and submit your application.

Notably, the specific type of goods you are importing determines the license requirements.

Here are some insights surrounding the application of import license in the USA;

  • If you plan to import commodities under your business name, obtain the Employer Identification Number from the IRS.

If you’re importing as an individual, you only need to use your Social Security number.

Alternatively, fill out the US Customs and Border Protection Form 5106 if you lack either of these numbers.

  • If you are importing high-value goods, buy a surety bond to ensure the commodities during transit.
  • Confirm with the country’s consulate whether it’s in good standing with the US as far as trade is concerned.

Otherwise, you’ll need to await the resolution of the pending issues between the countries.

Nevertheless, the shipping country may have its requirements regarding exporting commodities out of the country.

  • Determine the ideal port of entry. You also need to understand that tariffs often vary between different ports of entry.
  • Determine the regulatory agency dealing with the type of commodities you are importing and apply for the import license.

What are the Types of Import Licenses available?

Import licenses generally come in two main categories;

a) General Import License

This refers to the type of import license that you can use to import various commodities from all countries.

The exception is countries, which the particular commodities are prohibited.

b) Special Import License

This is a type of import license, which can be used to import commodities from specific countries.

It outlines the goods that you need to import from a particular country.

How Long does it take to Process Import upon Application?

It varies from one country to another.

In most countries, the official turnaround for obtaining this document upon application is between 5-10 days.

You, however, must ensure to submit all the necessary documents to receive these licenses within the stipulated timeframe.

One of the reasons this document may delay is from customs departments changing their computer systems.

It is also bound to delay due to staff shortage at the customs, public holidays in between, and authentication taking longer.

Can you Change your Existing Import License from a Personal to a Business Name?

Not necessarily.

Technically, your import license is always linked to a particular business registration or ID number.

These numbers are, of course, unique hence making it difficult to change the license from personal to business name.

Nonetheless, you can change the business name or registered address to reflect on the current import license you are using.

Which Products Require an Import License in International Shipping?

This is dependent on a specific government, which has the mandate to put a restriction on certain commodities.

In principle, an import license outlines the number of the specific commodities hence the reason for issuing it.

Nevertheless, most of the products often regulated by import license fall under the following categories;

  • Technology
  • Agricultural products
  • Wood products
  • Chemicals
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Military weapons
  • Food products

 Import permit

 Import permit

Is there a Difference Between Import License and Import Certificate?

Import certificate refers to an end-user assurance document recognizing the government’s awareness to the proposed import of specific goods.

It exhibits the government has no immediate objections to the proposed importation of goods by the particular importer.

Moreover, it recognizes the purpose of the stated end-use and end-user.

On the other hand, import license is an official document issued by the government approving the movement of goods into a country.

It outlines the volume of commodities you need to import and it is usually a requirement at the customs clearance department.

What are the Benefits of an Import License?

Obtaining an import license for international shipping is beneficial in a variety of ways.

Some of these advantages include the following;

  • It enables you to expand the overall scope of your business.

You can import outside your country and increase the possibility of gaining more profits.

  • There is no annual subscription for an import license.

Most countries offer a longer validity for this document at times up to 10 years.

In some countries, it is permanent for as long as your business exists.

  • It is easy to obtain an import license as long as you have the correct details.

Most applications are made electronically, thus making it more convenient.

  • It takes a few working days to have your import license upon application.

This is advantageous since it prevents any inconveniences, which may arise due to delays.

Do all Countries Require Import License for International Shipments?


There are some countries, which hardly require an import licenses for international shipments.

However, they have put stringent measures in regulating the types of products getting into the country.

This is essential because it makes it easy to determine the prohibited goods from acceptable commodities.

Moreover, countries that do not require an import licenses for international shipping have a clear stipulation on products allowed in their territories.

Can you use One Import License for Different Types of Products?


In many cases, a single import license covers all types of products you’re importing to the country.

Notably, all the prohibited and regulated commodities indicated in a particular country may need an additional permit.

Does an Import License Expire?

It depends on the specific country you’re obtaining this document from.

In some countries, the validity of an import license is ten years from the approval date.

After which you’ll need to re-apply for another one.

In such instances, however, your import license is never subject to annual subscriptions or fees as long as it is valid.

But this is also dependent on the changes if the customs department decides to alter the prevailing practices.

In some other countries, however, import license tends to be valid for a lifetime as long as your business continues to exist.

It thus implies you do not need to re-fill or renew the document ever once you receive it.

Even so, you may choose to close the business or stop using the document.

Thus you’ll need to surrender the same by informing the relevant issuing body through a written application.

Who do you Present the Import License to in International Trade?

You will need to issue the import license document to the customs if you choose to clear the goods yourself.

However, if you choose to work with a clearing agent, you will present it to the agent, who’ll then issue it to the customs.

Also, you may need to present the import license to your financial institution or foreign exchange broker.

This is specific when you need clearing international payments.

Is Import License Document Transferrable?

Not at all.

It is impossible to transfer the details of an import license from one party to another.

Therefore, you can hardly use someone else’s import document to clear your items.

In essence, the details on the commercial invoice must match the information on the import license.

If not, it will be difficult for customs department to clear your shipment.

Can you use One Import License for Different Countries?


You can use a single import license document to import a variety of products from different countries.

However, there are some countries of economic blocs, which may require additional certificates or permits.

Moreover, some countries also require you to register with relevant bodies to benefit from import duty tax reduction.

Notably, you need to understand that your import license is only valid with the borders of your destination country.

For instance, you cannot use a USA import license to import commodities to other countries outside the USA terrain.

Can a Foreigner Apply for Import License?


If you’re a foreigner, you can apply for an import license document in a particular country you’re importing the items to.

Two scenarios are guiding this circumstance and include the following;

  • If you’re a foreigner with a valid bank account and address in a foreign country, you can apply for this document under normal procedure.
  • In case you’re a foreigner without a valid bank account and address in a foreign country, you’ll need to have a nominated native agent. The nominated native agent will then apply for the import license on your behalf.

What is the Difference Between Import License and a Permit?

An import license is essentially a customs code, which authenticates that you’re a registered importer of different commodities.

The customs code comes in the eight-digit number assigned to you as the importer.

And it is this code that you use when clearing your imports at the customs department.

You can also use the code to pay or receive payment for the particular commodities you’re importing.

On the other hand, a customs permit refers to an additional certification document ascertaining the importation of the particular commodities.

Principally, certain items are often regulated by customs. In essence, it means you’ll require to obtain additional certification for such items before they are allowed in the country.

Nonetheless, the specific type of import permit you need is dependent on the regulation of the commodity imported under customs laws.

Are there Any Exemptions for Import License?


Typically, every country has its restrictions regarding goods or particular commodities imported to its terrain.

It is also the same way each country has exemptions on particular items you can import within its borders.

Therefore, if your business is considering importing items to a particular country, you’ll need to confirm if you require a license.

To stay on the right side of the law, you need to be aware of all the responsibilities of your import license.

You also need to know the relevant authorities issuing respective import license to guide the specific exemptions available.

So, in case you’re importing from China, BanSar will handle all your shipping and import documentation needs.

Contact us today for free warehousing, shipping container and affordable freight forwarding needs.

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