How do I start up my export to US?

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How do I start up my export to US?

  • export, US, US customs

At our US Export webinar img_1054September 13 2016, co-hosted by Danish Export Association and IBA Erhvervsakademi Kolding, we learned about starting up export to the US from the experiences of Danish companies Thomas Martin Law, Gram & Juhl, and DHL Chicago. We also got a short, to-the-point introduction to the US market by the Trade Council of Denmark.

Chief Economist at the Trade Council of Denmark, Jacob Warburg, kicked off the seminar by giving us some good basic knowledge and advice about export to the US market. We learned that:

  • In general, the US economy is doing alright with a moderate, but steady growth of about 2% per year.
  • The exchange rate has risen, and it seems that the high price of the US Dollar is here to stay, which makes Danish products competitive in the US market.
  • The import to the US is expected to increase over the next 3-4 years due to rising incomes and as an effect of the low energy prices disappearing next year.
  • 2015 was an exceptionally good year for Danish export to the US, so it’s great if we can maintain this high level in the coming years!


Next Attorney-at-law Thomas Thorup from Thomas Martin Law gave us a quick tour of where and how to start up exports to the US. In sum, his well-illustrated points were:

  • The US market cannot be seen as one single market, and it is practically impossible to roll out your product or service to the entire US. Therefore, you should pick a spot, familiarize yourself with this, and start from there!
  • Before you start your export to US, it is, from a legal perspective, highly recommendable to consider whether you how-to-find-a-us-distribution-partnerhave Intellectual Property (IP) you need to protect before you introduce your product or service on the US market. Almost everyone would benefit from a trademark registration, which is easy and cheap, and can save you a lot of trouble with IP later on.
  • You might start up doing direct sales from Denmark to US end-users, but as sales grow, this is not a sustainable way of conducting business. Therefore, you might consider finding a US-based third party to take care of your US business, which can either be found in an existing customer/wholesaler, through trade shows or exhibitions, or maybe even through an advertising effort.
  • To learn more about the difference between picking a Sales Agent or a Distributor, stay tuned for our upcoming white paper “How to find a distribution partner in the US”!


From Gram & Juhl’s Senior Sales Manager in North America, Sune Guldbrand Hansen, we got an overview of his key learnings regarding starting up export to the US:

  • Consider using HR professional help to plan the opening of your US office, so you “hit the ground running”. If you consider bringing a Danish employee to US , the way to set up the US legal entity and conduct the business transactions will be very important for how smooth the visa application process will move along. You should start planning this at least 6 months in advance of the intended arrival date, and your entire legal setup in the US may be dictated by the available visa options.
  • Make on-boarding of your employees in the US an ongoing event, and the same goes for product training. Be prepared for the unprepared!
  • Be precise in communication! Keep communicating, repeat yourself, and have excellent working procedures in place.
  • Have a clear strategy and customer roadmap ready. Be prepared to adjust service according to the market, and remember: your American colleagues are your experts!

Finally, we learned about US Import Regulations from Trade Lane Manager Mikael Andersen and Gilbert Salas, Senior Director of Customs Brokerage Sales from DHL Chicago:

  • It is crucial to adhere to US CBP regulations when importing freight into the US, or you risk incurring delays, increased scrutiny by US CBP and OGA, storage/detention fees, additional administrative costs, and even penalties.
  • You need to understand the responsibilities of being an Importer Of Record (IOR). Your responsibilities as an IOR are to work with a compliant Customs broker, ensure the imported goods comply with all laws and regulations, file completed entries and related documents for each import, and pay assessed import duties and other taxes.
  • It is highly recommendable to develop an internal compliance program to manage your import process.


Participants received presentations and links to the webinar. If you are a DABF member and would like this information, just let us know at!