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Exporting Basics: Know Your Responsibilities


It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced exporter or if the only overseas business you do is from the occasional inquiry from another country: Knowing your responsibilities as an exporter can save you from making costly mistakes. 

While there are many duties and responsibilities to discuss, here are a few worth noting as we start the new year.

Find Out If You Are The Principle Party

Do you have a domestic client that takes care of exporting your products to other countries? What do you do if a foreign buyer says they’re taking care of logistics and paperwork for you? Do you think your freight forwarder is legally responsible if any export mistakes arise? Export compliance can get complicated, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble by understanding what a principal party is and what’s expected of them.

Here’s what you need to know. If you receive the primary benefit for an export, you are considered the U.S. Principal Party In Interest, according to the Foreign Trade Regulations. If you are the principal party, or USPPI, you are responsible for making sure export transactions are legal, regardless of the sale’s terms. You must also:

  • Determine your commodity jurisdiction and classify your products to determine whether you need an export license.
  • Perform due diligence on the end user and the intended end use of your products.
  • Classify your products for statistical purposes (Schedule B)
  • Report your Electronic Export Information (EEI) to the U.S. Census Bureau through their Automated Export System (AES).
  • Provide freight forwarders with complete and accurate information for the export transaction.
  • Maintain shipment records for five years.

What If You’re Not The Principal Party?

Even if you aren’t the principal party, manufacturers and suppliers can still be held liable if their goods end up in a country or in the hands of a foreign individual that has been banned by the U.S. Government. If you suspect your domestic clients are selling your products to other countries, familiarize yourself with key export controls and basic export compliance.

Export Compliance Resources

For more information about performing due diligence on the end user and the intended end use of your products, read our blog on export licenses here. For more information about classifying products, read our blog on filing shipments through the AES here

You can also check out this USPPI fact sheet and check list from the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association or read these case studies. The U.S. Commercial Service’s website also has information on a variety of export related topics. 

We also have a Key Export Controls Webinar on January 20, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. Consider attending to continue your education on your responsibilities as an exporter.

Get 1-On-1 Exporting Advice

If you prefer to speak to someone directly, the West Virginia Department of Economic Development’s international trade representatives are available to answer your questions. Contact us today!

Enybe Diaz

Manager, International Trade

Enybe works with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development. She contributes to West Virginia’s economy by helping businesses sell their products and services around the world. #YesWV #YesExports.

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