How do exporters find buyers from importers abroad

Become self-employed with import or export

Import and export at a glance

The import and export of goods and services is very popular in Germany. In 2010, for example, goods worth 800 billion euros were imported and exported for around 1,000 billion euros. This makes Germany one of the strongest export countries in the world and has even been an export world champion.

The main factors involved in importing are:

  • Import of raw materials
    Means to obtain and process raw materials that are not available here.
  • Import of new products
    Means creating a new offer with goods that are not yet available on the domestic market.
  • Price-performance
    Means to achieve a competitive advantage, since goods can be procured cheaper or in better quality abroad by import.

The following points are decisive when exporting:

  • Export to new sales markets
    Means companies open up new sales markets abroad.
  • Additional growth potential through export
    The new sales markets increase the growth potential.
  • Diversification of risk
    Market diversification can reduce risks.

Business plan for founding with import and export

When starting a business in the Import and Expert area, you should draw up a business plan. The business plan helps you to develop your business idea and is required during the financing meeting with the bank advisor.

Over 200 business plan examples
You can use an example of the business plan as a basis for creating your own, individual business plan for your business in import and export. Our partner Formblitz has over 200 business plan examples, all of which are available for download.

Import: Independent with goods from abroad

Chemical products, motor vehicles and their parts, machines or electrical devices are imported particularly frequently in Germany. At the same time, the range of imported goods is extremely diverse and there is hardly anything that is not imported. The possibility of importing new, cheaper or better goods seems tempting at first glance, but the risks involved in importing should not be ignored.

Before you start your business by importing, you should check the following requirements:

  • Import from abroad
    Which markets are relevant for you, from which countries do you want to import goods?
  • Quality of the imported goods
    Where can you find the goods you are looking for in the right quality or at the right price?
  • Import costs
    What are the transport costs for the import?
  • Export restrictions
    Is it possible to export from the country or is it subject to certain conditions?
  • Import regulations
    Do the imported goods meet local standards and regulations?
  • Important for the import: local partner
    How do you plan to find the right business partners there?
  • Market knowledge
    Do you have the necessary knowledge in these markets? These include language, culture, economic, political and legal circumstances.
  • Import regulations
    Do you know about import regulations in Germany? Are there any import restrictions? What are the import duties?

Tips for starting up in import

Below you will find tips that can be helpful for the points mentioned:

  • Country information
    You can obtain detailed information on countries, their markets and conditions from the Society for Foreign Trade and Location Marketing - Germany Trade & Invest as well as from the chambers of foreign trade.
  • Find business partners for import and export
    Here, too, Germany Trade & Invest and the chambers of foreign trade in the respective countries are good addresses that can help you get in touch with local companies. Of course, you can also do research on the Internet and in yellow pages on your own. Visiting trade fairs is also suitable.
  • EU import regulations for imports
    The movement of goods within the EU is largely unproblematic. However, you must apply for a VAT identification number.
  • Import from non-EU countries
    There are import restrictions or bans for some goods. Your contact for commercial goods is the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control BAFA - the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE) is responsible for agricultural products. You can find information on all matters relating to customs here. Atlas is an electronic system that is intended to facilitate customs declaration and clearance.

What you should also think about when importing are extended delivery times, the risk of a delivery failure and exchange rate risks.

Export: Independent with own products abroad

New markets, new luck? Other countries certainly offer new sales opportunities for their own products - but the export strategy also means major challenges, especially for small companies. Most exports from Germany take place within the EU. China and the USA are also important sales markets for exports.

You should check the following points when setting up an export:

  • Export market
    Which target market is relevant for you? A detailed market analysis is necessary here. For more information, see the Target Audience and Market section of the business plan. The analysis of foreign markets for export is often more difficult, for example due to cultural differences.
  • Market knowledge for export
    Do you have enough market knowledge? These include language, culture, economic, political and legal circumstances.
  • Exportable product?
    Is your product suitable for export? Think about transportability, import or export restrictions, rules for standards and the necessary tariffs.
  • Sales abroad
    How are you going to organize sales? How do you find business partners for export?
  • Local know-how for export
    What must be considered in marketing? What will the overall cost of going to market be?

Information and assistance on export

You can obtain information and assistance on exporting from the following addresses:

  • Country information
    You can obtain detailed information on countries, their markets and conditions from the Society for Foreign Trade and Location Marketing - Germany Trade & Invest as well as from the chambers of foreign trade.
  • Find business partners
    Here, too, Germany Trade & Invest and the chambers of foreign trade in the respective countries are good addresses that can help you get in touch with local companies. Of course, you can also do research on the Internet and in yellow pages on your own. Visiting trade fairs is also suitable.
  • EU import regulations
    The movement of goods within the EU is largely unproblematic. However, you must apply for a VAT identification number.
  • Imports to non-EU countries
    Here you have to check the individual regulations of the destination country in detail. The chambers of foreign trade will also help you with this.

Also, consider the risks of fluctuating exchange rates and payment defaults. You can insure against financial risks from the export business as follows:

  • Export insurance
    The Federal Republic of Germany has various options for securing foreign business.
  • Export factoring
    You can transfer claims against foreign customers for a discount to others who then bear the risk of default. This is offered by numerous companies.
  • Classic advance payment for export
    They oblige the buyer to pay before receiving the goods.

IXPOS is also an informative portal on all aspects of import and export. Here you will find information on countries and markets as well as databases for the search for business partners, which you can use for the market analysis of your business idea and the business plan.

Germany Trade & Invest - partner in foreign trade

Germany Trade & Invest combines the analysis competence of foreign markets with the industry expertise of the investment and technology location Germany. Based on the knowledge of 60 foreign employees and the close cooperation with the AHKs, the Economic Development Agency of the Federal Republic of Germany covers the needs of the German foreign trade for comprehensive, consistent and industry-specific market information.

With the combination of profound knowledge of the country and the internationally competitive range of advice and services for foreign investors, Germany Trade & Invest secures and creates jobs in Germany. The company places particular emphasis on promoting economic development in the new federal states and Berlin.

Overview: Important contact persons for questions about import and export

Rules and regulations

Information on countries, markets and databases to search for business partners

Export insurance

  • The federal portal with information on export insurance can be found here.

Foreign trade data and statistics

Author: Für-Gründer.de editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Gründer.de for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Gründer.de, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.