Frequently Asked Questions

The following are basic steps that should be followed before deciding to "go global":

  1. Carefully assess the business and its products 
  2. Develop a good, solid business plan. – VERY IMPORTANT! 
  3. Conduct ample research (foreign market trends, demographics, political, economic and social environments, etc.)
  4. Determine the method of foreign market entry (agent/distributor, direct exporting, joint venture, etc.)
  5. Select an agent or distributor – most small businesses find that it is too costly to sell directly to an end user; therefore finding a good distributor to represent your company and products is crucial.

Not necessarily. All export shipments are carried out on a transaction basis, and 98 percent of all exported products are automatically covered under a general license issued by the U.S. government; this license requires no paperwork. Should a product not fall under a general licensing category, a "validated license" must be obtained from the government. Also, validated licensing may be applicable to countries such as Cuba or China due to foreign policy concerns.

For an application to obtain a validated license, contact the Exporter Assistance Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 1099D, Washington, D.C. 20230, (202) 482-4811.

The following public and private organizations offer excellent market and research assistance:

Freight forwarders, international departments of banks, export management companies, small business development and international trade centers (located at community colleges or chambers of commerce), state international offices, export hotline, private firms/consultants.

 The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) is a series of documents that represents quality assurance standards used by companies that supply goods and services internationally. ISO certification is received only after a rigorous inspection by an approved assessment body. ISO 9000 has become increasingly important as exports are realizing that compliance is crucial for overseas success.
It is advantageous to keep freight costs to a minimum. While there are benefits for both air and ocean shipments, the customers' needs should be considered first. Normally, air shipments reach the customer in approximately one week, whereas ocean shipments can take up to three weeks. It is also important to receive quotes from different air and ocean freight forwarders in order to receive the best possible rate and service.

The most common forms are bill of landing, certificate of origin, commercial invoice, consular invoice, destination control statement, export packing list, inspection certificate, insurance certificate and shipper’s export declaration. Some freight forwarders will do this paperwork for you.

If you are working with a freight forwarder, the forms usually are provided. They can also be obtained from a Government Printing Office or business supply store.

A document signed by the exporter required by certain foreign countries for tariff purposes. It simply indicates that the country originating the specified goods is indeed the exporter’s country. Proof of origin is especially important to countries in which the U.S. has a reciprocal trade agreement, such as NAFTA and the Canadian Free Trade Agreement.



Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and College of DuPage as a service to Illinois businesses under cooperative agreement #SB-2M-00097-15.

Contact Information

Business Development Center
Illinois International Trade Center
535 Duane Street, Office 233
Glen Ellyn IL 60137

Monica Hernandez, International Trade Center (ITC) Program Manager
Phone: (630) 942-3041

Summer Hours of Operation
Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, closed