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Help get your products and services export ready with our international readiness checklist

Exporting products and services is an excellent way to grow your business globally – but it’s important to remember that international markets often have different requirements.

Even if your product meets Australian standards, it may need to be changed, certified, or re-labelled for sale in other countries. Help make sure you can successfully sell and distribute your products overseas with this quick guide.

Are you in compliance with customs requirements?

Sending goods overseas can require a lot of research on your behalf. Every country has different customs requirements, and a breach poses both financial and legal risks to your business.

AHECC Code

To help be export-ready, first check your Australian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) code, and ensure it is correct for duty purposes. This 6-digit system is used to classify all goods involved in international trade, and has been adopted by most trading nations. The right code will assist your export declaration, and help the process run smoothly.

Halal certification and food safety

If you’re exporting food, you’ll also need to identify your ingredients and ensure they’re in line with your target country’s requirements. And if you’re exporting into a Muslim nation, you’ll also require Halal certification.

Many countries have different standards for safety testing too. These are specific and varied – make sure you research thoroughly to ensure you aren’t in breach.

Do your product features need to be altered?

When starting your export journey, you may find that there are elements of your products or the labelling of your products might need adjusting to be compliant with the target market.

Get to know the market demand

Before you select your export destination, do some market research. This includes thorough research of your competitors, along with a good understanding of how the market works.

Will your new customers perceive the same value in your product’s benefits? How will your product fit into the market? For example, you might be selling wine – so selling to countries where alcohol isn’t widely consumed might be a strategy that requires a lot of thought. You might ask yourself whether somewhere like Dubai (where many people don’t consume alcohol) really be the best place to export your product? This seems like an obvious example for an instance where you’d choose not to export to the particular region, but things aren’t always clear-cut.

In fact, the alcohol market in the UAE has skyrocketed in recent times, due to the growing influx of foreign companies, expats and tourists. With some research, for example, you could discover Australian wine is highly desirable in Dubai. So it could potentially be an excellent place to sell your product due to the scarcity of available products, and the wealth of local residents – you would just need to make sure you follow the rules.

Product sizing and packaging

Many countries have different size guidelines, so check whether you may need to update labelling and size charts. Will you need different packaging – translated into a different language, or with different ingredient labelling?

You may need to update your use-by-dates to meet a different international standard. Do you need to update your barcode, or QR codes? Imagery can be important too, as pictures that seem fine in Australia could potentially be offensive to a different audience.

Thinking again about the example of exporting wine. If you were exporting to the Middle East, you’d need to take extra care with packaging, so that throughout the process of storage and distribution the product isn’t damaged by the hot and humid climate.

A label in Arabic would also need to be added to the product and would also need to provide specific information regarding the product ingredients; country of origin; and instructions for storage and use; as well as an updated barcode; and the details of both the manufacturer and importer.

And although alcohol is permitted for sale in the region, there are still strict rules regarding the advertising of these products – so you’d need to consider cultural norms and values when designing product packaging.

Does your terms of service agreement documentation comply with local law?

If you need certain documentation or licences to operate your business in Australia, it stands to reason that you might need similar types of certifications or paperwork to be able to trade in international regions too.

Check the local consumer law

To avoid finding yourself in a sticky situation legally, make sure your terms of service agreements comply with the local law in your target country – and these can vary state to state.
Some things to consider include ensuring your returns, warranty or replacement policies are in line with relevant consumer law of the region. And if you’re offering a service, you may need to be registered with a local support office.

Product liability insurance

Product liability insurance is crucial. This will cover the expense of any harm sustained by the purchaser due to any defect in the product.

Are you ready to export internationally?

Checklist:

  • Do you have the correct AHECC code?
  • Do you require Halal certification? 
  • Does your product have the required safety certification? 
  • Is your ingredients list in line with requirements? 
  • Is your product appropriate for the market? 
  • Do you need to change your packaging? 
  • Is your product sizing correct? 
  • Do you meet language requirements? 
  • Do you need to alter your use-by-dates? 
  • Is your use of imagery appropriate? 
  • Do you understand the consumer law of the region? 
  • Does your returns, warranty and replacement policy comply? 
  • Do you need to register your services with a local support office? 
  • Do you have product liability insurance?

The examples listed in this article are certainly not exhaustive and serve only to illustrate the types of considerations that may be required in each country. The only way to truly ensure you’ve ticked every box in ensuring you’re export ready is to conduct extensive research on your target market.

You can check Australia Post’s guidelines for more information about shipping internationally. And when you’re truly confident your product is ready for export – you can sit back and experience the great benefits of running a global business.

Ready to take on the world?

Read our Insights paper on the Australian small businesses that have gone global and begin charting your route there.

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