Tips to export watches around the world

Tips to export watches around the world
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Exporting watches is not as complicated as some might make it out to be. There are many tips you can utilize to make the process fast and easy. Each time I want to ship a watch to a foreign country, I have a couple solid options. The first is mailing through one of the big shipping companies I like doing business with. The second is to take the watch with me when leaving the country.

Through the years, I have received a few international clients, which means I export watches quite often. Some of those countries include Japan, Australia, Canada, and Hong Kong, yet the process is always the same no matter the destination. I have paperwork I have to fill out carefully and completely to ensure that the watch doesn’t end up held in customs for an extended time period.

Useful Tips for Exporting Watches

Know who is buying the watch

Exporting watches is an amazing way to increase your client base. There are over 300 million Americans, the world houses just under 8 billion. We constantly talk about knowing a seller. You have to make sure you are purchasing from someone reputable. The same rules apply in reverse. The risk is elevated any time a watch crosses an international border. When I work with a client from another country, I always make sure I know the person I am selling to is legitimate. It is especially important in these situations since the stakes are much higher and you have fewer resources at your disposal if things go south.

By getting to know my customers, I also build a stronger relationship which in turn can boost my sales even further. Through our conversation, I can spot red flags easier. Money laundering is a major issue in other countries as well. I don’t want to be the target of a Federal Investigation because some criminal is trying to shift his cash into something much easier and more liquid.

Purchasing Watches on Vacation

Just as I do, many people love visiting the watch dealers and boutiques in countries they visit. It’s a whole new experience to what they will find locally. One of the best tips I can give you is to enjoy your vacation, then on the way home, claim the watch in customs. An example of this was a trip I took to Japan. Since I am not a Japanese resident, I received tax savings immediately. This tax savings will show up on the receipt so when I get back to the United States, I fill out the paperwork and pay the customs fees right there. Buying a watch while abroad may also allow you to write off a portion of the vacation if your tax laws allow, just talk to your accountant and they will be able to go over the details with you. This matters twice here because you may be approached by someone in the United States for business or vacation, and If you have this information, you will be able to serve your customer to the best of your ability.

The last time I visited Japan, I became an importer and an exporter, both at the same time. One of the most important things to do when bringing watches into a foreign country is to declare the watch while already in customs. The fees are not that great and it’s not worth the hassle if something negative happens.

Shipping Companies

There are several companies I like to use when shipping a watch internationally. Most often I will work with FedEx or UPS, however there are other options such as USPS, DHL, and EMS. I prefer FedEx and UPS, however, as I have an account service with them which allows me to fully insure my watches and the paperwork is handled in a very efficient manner. This business relationship has proved supremely useful and it simplifies the export process. This is the number one tip I can give to anyone in the business that wishes to export watches.

Insuring the Shipment

This is singlehandedly the most important process you will undertake.Every single export must be properly insured, whether it is domestic or international. If you properly insure your package, you and the buyer are both protected from damage or loss should the worst happen in transit. The years I have spent in business, I have used my account to ship hundreds of watches and have yet to require a claim, but I will continue to always make sure the shipment is properly insured. Being a watch dealer, and having an account with a company such as IFS or ParcelPro ensures that I can ship worry free and with insurance which avoids unnecessary risk.

Tips to export watches around the world
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Shipping time frame

From my experience, it generally takes less than five days for a package to arrive at its destination. I have even had packages arrive in two. The biggest factor determining speed of transit is the time a package will sit in customs. The important thing here is to keep an eye on the tracking information. If you notice a package is in customs for more than a couple days, you may need to contact customs to provide more information.

I have done this a couple times, but since I have experience with this sort of thing, it was a simple process that was easily fixed. In very rare cases, the customer may have to call customs to confirm specifics before they will release the watch to them.

Customs / Duties Fees for Watches

The general rule of thumb is this, the buyer pays the fees for customs and duties. This is true whether you buy a watch from outside the United States or you ship a watch to a foreign country. If I import a watch I pay the fees, if I export a watch, the buyer pays the fees. One thing to note is the fees will vary greatly depending on the destination. Many factors that influence the fees are the movement type, the number of jewels, the case materials, and the country of origin (mostly Japan and Switzerland).

As a rule of thumb, it can cost as much as 20% when exporting to many countries in the EU which can prove a barrier when selling to them. It’s always wise to disclose this information to prospective buyers as they can make their decision and will have a more positive experience which can help drive sales further. Your reputation is key to longevity in the business. One of the bonuses to dealing with a company such as IFS is they have a rough calculation of export fees on the website as you fill out the shipping label. This can help you give a rough estimate to your buyer.

Things You Can’t Export

One of my friends found out the hard way, exotic leather, such as crocodile, is illegal to export to the majority of countries in the world. You do not have the ability to gather the resources to report them properly. This particular watch was confiscated in customs and it was a major nightmare trying to have the watch returned. For these reasons, it’s extremely important to understand the watch components and the rules of export when shipping a watch internationally. The goal, as always, is to make the process as painless and comfortable for the buyer as possible. Having a watch confiscated is just plain bad for you and your business. It could cost you thousands on your watch immediately, and in the future due to lost sales.

My time in the business has taught me that shipping watches internationally is just as easy as domestically. The only meaningful difference is the paperwork you have to attach when creating a label, and the different materials banned from export. Do your homework on the buyer to avoid scams, and if they don’t take the time to talk to you on the phone, it may be a wise decision to not ship the watch. If you take the time to perform these steps properly, and follow a few simple guidelines, you will have an efficient and straightforward transaction.

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