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Doing Business in Florida
The following links provide basic concepts about starting a business in Florida. Information provided includes tips on starting a business, tax considerations and Florida’s economic and demographic trends.
Starting a Business In Florida
Licensing and Tax information
A comprehensive, quarterly forecast of the Florida economy and 12 metropolitan areas.
These local companies and publications are helpful tools
for local and international news and findings.
University of Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness provides a quarterly economic forecast. In the Florida Forecast 2014-2017, readers will find highlighted subjects pertaining to Florida’s housing market, payroll updates, and news in home construction.
Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI) is a public-private partnership serving as Florida’s primary organization devoted to statewide economic development. EFI’s mission is: To diversify Florida’s economy and create better paying jobs for its citizens by supporting, attracting and helping to create globally competitive businesses in innovative, high-growth industries.
Orlando, Inc. (Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce) is one of four lines of business of the Central Florida Partnership and is specifically focused on Regional Entrepreneurship. A “Five-Star Chamber” – the highest level of achievement awarded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – we are positioned to serve the growing needs of businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the Central Florida Region.
The Central Florida Partnership is a collaborative of business and civic leaders committed to procuring a better tomorrow for Central Florida’s seven counties. We are thoughtful leaders united by a single, guiding principle – that we have both the power and the responsibility to make change happen. Working together, through four lines of business – Orlando, Inc. (Regional Entrepreneurship), Business Force (Regional Public Policy Advocacy), myregion.org (Regional Research & Resolves) and Leadership Orlando (Regional Leadership) – the Central Florida Partnership is moving “Ideas to Results.”
When you visit the online version of the Orlando Business Journal, you'll find the latest breaking business news, updated throughout the day, some of this week's top stories from the Orlando Business Journal and other popular features from the print edition. You can also sign up to receive any of our email products including daily business news updates, latest news of 17 industries, dozens of popular topics from around the nation and the latest networking and marketing alerts.
I want to start exporting. Where can I find information about beginning the process?
The U.S. Department of Commerce makes available through their website a free guide to basic exporting that can help you decide your first steps into that new market. This guide can be found at www.export.gov or receive information at Exporters/Importers Guide at http://www.eximguru.com/. Export.gov also provides you with many more trade resources or answers to questions you may have about taking your company or product overseas. Enterprise Florida also provides a guide for exporting at Export from Florida.
Other valuable resources and websites can be found under our TRADE RESOURCES tab. These links will provide regional and national market information, as well as possible means for funding, international news, basic business guides, etc. The World Trade Center Orlando also provides many events and lectures on international trade basics. These classes provide you the chance to learn from experienced instructors and consultants and ask any questions you may have about exporting your product. For more information on upcoming events and lectures, please visit the Events page.
Are there sources of legal assistance for people who are new to exporting?
There are several legal assistance resources available to help businesses that are new to exporting:
The Department of Commerce Office of Chief Counsel for International Commerce can provide information on various legal issues of interest to U.S. exporters on their website.
The Export Legal Assistance Network (ELAN) is a nationwide group of attorneys with experience in international trade sponsored by the Federal Bar Association. These attorneys volunteer their time to provide initial legal consultations free of charge to small businesses interested in starting export operations. For more information on the ELAN, please visit their website.
The American Bar Association (ABA) publishes information on the legal aspects of doing business in specific countries, including guides to foreign law firms and law organizations. For more information on the ABA, please visit the International section of the ABA website.
A listing of Private Attorneys and Law Firms (found under the heading, Legal Services) that are currently WTC Orlando members can be found on the Current Members page (must be a member to access).
Where can I find International Market Research?
To successfully export your product, you should examine foreign markets through research. The purpose is to identify marketing opportunities and constraints abroad, as well as to identify prospective buyers and customers. Market research encompasses all methods that a company can use to determine which foreign markets have the best potential for its products. Results of this research inform the firm of: the largest markets for its product, the fastest growing markets, market trends and outlook, market conditions and practices, and competitive firms and products.
If you do not have the time or means to travel to a potential market to conduct your own research, the U.S. Commercial Service provides excellent country-specific market information on their website. Depending on the country and the size and potential of their market, an exporter can find information on doing business in that country, the business culture, the import regulations, Country Commercial Guides, etc.
Often times, the best way to find market research is to actually travel to the market and research the environment and potential customers or buyers for your product. Unz & Co. provide a guide to performing Market Research and Developing a Market Plan at no charge on their website.
The WTC Institute of Florida provides seminars on Basic Exporting and Developing a Winning Export Market Plan that provide exporters with information on how to perform and use market research. For more information on upcoming classes and seminars, please visit our Events page to learn about our future events and lectures.
Where can I find Financing for my Exporting Business?
Export.gov provides a broad overview of U.S. Government export financing programs, including those that can provide working capital, export insurance, and federal grant resources. This can be found here. This includes information on the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Export-Import Bank.
There are also many Private Banks that will provide loans and working capital to companies looking to expand their business internationally. A listing of Financial Services, Banking and Accounting providers that are currently WTC Orlando members can be found on our Current Members page (must be a member to access). What is an Export License and do all U.S. Exports require one? An export license grants permission to conduct a certain type of export transaction. It is issued by the appropriate licensing agency after a careful review of the facts surrounding the given export transaction. Not all exports require a license. In fact, a relatively small percentage of all U.S. export transactions require licenses from the U.S. government. The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce is responsible for licensing products for export. The specialists at BIS can also help you navigate the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to find out whether you must apply for a license and how to submit the requisite application. An excellent explanation of how to understand the Export Administration Regulations and more information on Export Compliance is available on the BIS website. BIS’s Office of Exporter Services in Washington, DC, (202-482-4811) can also guide you through this process.
What is an Export License and do all U.S. Exports require one?
An export license grants permission to conduct a certain type of export transaction. It is issued by the appropriate licensing agency after a careful review of the facts surrounding the given export transaction. Not all exports require a license. In fact, a relatively small percentage of all U.S. export transactions require licenses from the U.S. government.
The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce is responsible for licensing products for export. The specialists at BIS can also help you navigate the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to find out whether you must apply for a license and how to submit the requisite application. An excellent explanation of how to understand the Export Administration Regulations and more information on Export Compliance is available on the BIS website. BIS’s Office of Exporter Services in Washington, DC, (202-482-4811) can also guide you through this process.
How can I obtain information about Importing products into the United States?
To obtain U.S. tariff (duty) rates for imports, check on regulations such as import quotas, or obtain general import information, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. Department of Homeland Security) website and click on “Import.” You should also visit the U.S. International Trade Commission website and click on “Tariff Schedule.” Local Customs offices can also be contacted for import information. A comprehensive listing of U.S. Customs offices and contacts is available on the U.S. Customs website. The WTC Institute of Florida also provides classes and seminars on the Basics of Importing, Intermediate Importing, Import Law, Import Valuation, and Duty Drawback. For more information on upcoming classes and seminars, please visit our EVENTS page.
How do I ship my product Overseas?
When shipping a product overseas, the exporter must be aware of packing, labeling, documentation, and insurance requirements. Most exporters rely on an international freight forwarder to perform these services because of the multitude of considerations involved in physically exporting goods. Export.gov provides information and assistance in shipping both agricultural and non-agricultural products overseas on their website. The information found there can help an exporter distinguish the documentation requirements for export shipments, explain the considerations when selecting a method of shipment, and provide insurance and foreign tax information.
Who/What is a Customs Broker?
Customs Brokers are the only persons who are authorized by U.S. Customs regulations to act as agents for the importers for the transaction of their Customs business. Customs brokers are private individuals or firms licensed by the Treasury Department to prepare and file the necessary Customs entries for importers, including arranging for the payment of duties found due, securing release of goods in Customs custody and otherwise representing principals in Customs matters. Many brokers help clients choose modes of transportation and appropriate carriers, provide assistance to importers in assigning shipments the best routes, assisting with estimates for landed costs, payments of goods through draft, letters of credit insurance, and re-delivery of cargo if there is more than one port of destination.
The customs broker must possess thorough knowledge of tariff schedules and Customs regulations and keep abreast of the amendments made through constant changes in the law and administrative regulations. The broker must be well-versed in determining proper classifications and dutiable value, and be fully aware of the vast number of commodities subject to quotas.
To find a list of WTC Members who can assist you with your Customs Brokerage needs, please visit our Member Listing.
Why should I use a Freight-Forwarder and where can I find one?
To comply with export documentation and shipping requirements, many exporters utilize a freight forwarder to act as their shipping agent. The forwarder advises and assists clients on how to move goods most efficiently from one destination to another. A forwarder’s extensive knowledge of documentation requirements, regulations, transportation costs and banking practices can ease the exporting process for many companies.
Whether the firm is large or small, the weight of the cargo light or heavy, the freight forwarder will take care of cargo from “dock to door” if requested to do so. This can include the correct filing of export documentation, all arrangements with carriers, packing, crating and storage needs. So, the small and medium-size exporter need not deal with many of the details involved with the logistics of exporting their goods. In addition, freight forwarders typically charge modest rates for their services and have access to shipping discounts.
A listing of Freight-Forwarders that are currently WTC Orlando members can be found on our website under the Member Listing.