Starting to export and restrictions
It takes careful planning to start exporting. Choose the most suitable method of exporting and find out about the practices and restrictions associated with exports.
Look into what method of exporting would suit your company. The method you choose determines how communications, marketing, sales, and distribution of goods are carried out in an international market. In addition, it will determine how responsibilities are to be shared among the various actors.
Identify the typical actors and practices for the industry in the target country; for example, by asking the following questions:
- Through how many distribution levels will your product pass before it reaches the end customer?
- What sort of companies are there in the activity chain?
- What does it take to access the activity chain?
- Will participation in the activity chain be productive enough for your company?
Familiarise yourself closely with Finnish Customs export guidelines and the customs practices and legislation of the target country. At the planning stage, make use too of the business development company in your region and the Team Finland country profiles and organisations (such as the ELY Centres and Finnvera).
You can apply for funding for various export projects from the Team Finland organisations, such as Business Finland and Finnvera.
Using another company in Finland to export your products usually diminishes the risks and the need for resources. Your company sells its products directly to a Finnish partner, which uses them in its exports as part of its own range of services.
Use of a local export agency means that your company acts as a subcontractor for a foreign partner. In such a case, the foreign agency carries out the marketing and sales of the products but uses the products your company manufactures in its own range of services.
In direct exporting you trade via the sales channels in the target country. The foreign partner attends to the marketing, distribution and sales of your company’s products and its local knowledge ensures improved opportunities for successful exporting.
Sales direct to the end customer does not rely on separate sales channels or intermediaries. It is suited, for example, to separately tailor-made products for end customers and allows for direct customer feedback.
The key player in anything to do with exports is Finnish Customs. Familiarise yourself further with their exporting guidelines. Make use too of Team Finland’s expertise concerning the target country and its customs practices and legislation. Further information is available from Business Finland’s electronic Shipping Handbook.
If your company wants to start exporting outside the customs and tax territory of the EU, find out first what the precise details are concerning the goods (e.g. the tariff heading), the restrictions on the goods and their transport, and the customs practices of the target country.
Acquire from Customs the registrations and identifiers needed to make an export declaration. Make out an electronic export declaration to Customs stating the name of the exporter and recipient, the consignment for declaration, and the details of transport and the goods item. You may start exporting when Customs has approved your declaration.
If your company wants to export goods to another Member State in the customs and tax territory of the EU, this counts as internal trade and no export declaration is required.
You will receive a notification from Customs if the value of exports exceeds the limit for statistics compilation. Customs is responsible for the Intrastat declaration start date and will send instructions for the declaration. You yourself do not need to monitor any excess of the limit for compiling statistics.
For the purposes of VAT, you will need clearance for the export of goods outside the EU. The commonest document is the certificate of exit obtained electronically from the Finnish Customs information system. It results from a notification to Customs that goods are leaving the EU. Familiarise yourself more closely with the instructions given by Customs and the Tax Administration.
Discuss payment options, protection from risk and the need for financing in good time before making an offer with your bank and Finnvera.
A suitable method of payment, terms and conditions of payment and buyer financing should be considered carefully when making a competitive offer. They are important elements of the offer for both the exporter and purchaser.
Note that that there are also always credit risks associated with the export trade on the part of the buyer, the buyer’s bank or the country concerned. Protection is particularly important the more customised and important the export trade is.
Further information on protection from risks is available from Finnvera.
Some goods may have export restrictions, and the export of some goods may be completely prohibited. Further information is available from Business Finland’s electronic Shipping Handbook.
The restrictions may also differ, depending on whether the goods are being sold between EU or Nordic countries as a form of internal trade or whether it is a matter of actual exports outside the EU. The restrictions on internal trade are generally less stringent. The restrictions may also vary from country to country: in some countries they may be very tight for some goods.
Export restrictions and prohibitions may relate to exports of weapons, ammunition, cultural objects, substances that deplete the ozone layer, and seeds.
Find out about export restrictions and prohibitions on the websites of authorities that grant licences and by using the Finnish Customs restrictions manual.
Your company can also export abroad goods whose export is restricted. A separate export licence, however, is required.
Apply to the relevant authority for the restrictions on the goods for an export licence and inform Customs of the licence number when making the export declaration.
Find out which authority is responsible for granting an export licence for the goods concerned by consulting, for example, the Finnish Customs restrictions manual or looking on their website.