Becoming an exporter is easier than ever, but doing it the right way is still hard. That’s why successful exporters understand just how important it is to train key members of their staff on various aspects of the process—from marketing and sales, to export compliance and regulations, to export documentation.
A quality training program is usually a great value that will pay off in spades, making you and your team better exporters (and keeping you out of jail). However, due to travel demands or schedules, it’s not always realistic to attend conferences or training sessions. In fact, some smaller companies may not even have a budget for training. That’s OK! You don’t have to spend big bucks to make sure your team is adequately trained. Here are eight free resources that will help you go from Accidental Exporter to Export Professional.
1. Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS) Online Training Room
Anyone involved in exporting should at some point attend the BIS’s two-day Complying With U.S. Export Controls seminar. It’s held in locations around the country, and it’s indispensable, because it gives attendees a chance to ask questions, get live feedback, and take advantage of the dynamic interaction.
However, if you can’t make it to one of these events, you can watch the videos online. The BIS offers free videos, available in several formats online to anyone, anytime.
Export 101 Training Videos
These videos help promote awareness and help you understand the rules governing the export process. They include four BIS-specific export control training videos:
- Exporting Commercial Items: ECCNs and EAR99
- The Commerce Control List and Self-Classification
- Exporting EAR99 Items: Screening Your Transaction, Lists to Check, and Red Flags
- Embargoes and Sanctions
BIS Update Conference on Export Controls and Policy
This annual conference gives the exporting community the opportunity to learn first-hand from senior U.S. government officials about current issues and trends in export control policies, regulations and practices. The 2016 Update Conference is scheduled for October 31 through November 2 in Washington, D.C.While attending the conference isn't free, you can read the presentation slides and watch videos of the keynote speakers from previous conferences without paying a penny:
Essentials of Export Controls
This is a six-part series of videos covering the content presented at the one-day BIS Essentials of Export Controls seminar. Topics include:
- Export control basics.
- Classifying your item and determining if you need a license.
- General prohibitions including prohibited end users, end uses, and activities.
- Using license exceptions.
- License applications and supporting documentation.
- Export clearance and recordkeeping.
Complying with U.S. Export Controls
This is a nine-topic webinar series covering the content presented at the two-day Complying with U.S. Export Controls seminar I mentioned above. Topics include:
- Complying with U.S. Export Controls (an Overview of the EAR)
- Classification of Items on the Commerce Control List ( an Overview of the Commerce Control List or CCL)
- How to Classify Your Item
- Determining License Requirements - ECCN/Destinations and End User/End Use
- License Exceptions
- Support Documentation
- Export Clearance Requirements
- Elements of an Effective Export Compliance Program
2. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau website offers several export training videos for free. Topics include fundamentals of exporting, explanations of the Foreign Trade Regulations (including AES filing), how to use trade export data for your trade planning, and more! You can see the complete library of training workshop videos here.
Export-U2 offers a variety of webinars to help you prepare for exporting with free and practical export training. The website is the product of a collaboration between the International Trade Center of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center and the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Atlanta. It is related to the handbook, A Basic Guide to Exporting.
4. A Basic Guide to Exporting
If you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of how to export, this handbook is the resource you need. You can find answers to questions about how to establish and grow overseas markets for your products and services. You’ll also find real-life examples that illustrate the principles of exporting, samples of forms needed to export, and information on how to get guidance and counseling offered by the federal government through Export Assistance Centers. You can download it for free online, and purchase a printed version for reference here—that way, you’ll have it close by every time you have a question.
5. ExIm Bank
The Export-Import (ExIm) Bank of the United States website offers trade finance guidance and assistance for free. The website has several free webinars and videos available online that can help you better understand the agency and the tools that empower U.S. companies to increase their international sales.
6. Export Assistance Centers
The U.S. Commercial Service has a network of hundreds of Export Assistance Centers across the country that offer counseling to exporters and formal programs that are an incredible bargain for small and midsized companies. You can find the Export Assistance Center closest to you by using the office locator on their website.
7. State Trade Offices
Various state trade offices offer counseling services and guidance and can help answer your exporting questions. Each state’s trade office website is different, but a quick Google search can help you find your state’s office website.
Check with your state trade office to see if it participates in the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. STEP’s objectives are to increase the number of U.S. small businesses that export and increase the value of exports by small businesses, and they offer grants that can assist your company with training costs if you can’t pay for it yourself.
STEP grants can also help exporters with costs associated with the following:
- Participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips
- Subscription services from the U.S. Department of Commerce
- Website translation fees.
- Design of international marketing media.
- Export tradeshow exhibitions.
- Participation in export training.
- Other export initiatives determined to be appropriate by the Small Business Administration's Office of International Trade.
8. International Trade Blog
Check out the scores of free articles available on a broad variety of international trade topics on this blog—the International Trade Blog. If you haven’t signed up to get an email notification every time a new post is added, click this link and enter your email address on the top of the page to do that right now.
This article was first published in September 2015 and has been updated to include current information, links and formatting.