Home Blog How to start your import business: step by step

How to start your import business: step by step

In aluminium business the price for materials (both primary and semi-finished) plays a crucial role and significantly affects business. Importing components and materials from abroad can be a solution that will lead to cutting costs or earning extra income while maintaining quality. In addition, it may help you better meet customer needs and make you more competitive in the market.

However, some essential points should be considered before one decides to pursue the course of imports. For those companies that have little to no experience with import activities, it is especially important to rely on the experience of their colleagues. And we, together with our customers, are ready to share our knowledge with you. This step-by-step guide is here to remove your uncertainties, explain all the necessary procedures, and help you to succeed in your endeavors.

Find goods and suppliers

Finding a good supplier is just as difficult as finding a good buyer. Look around the international market and take some time to research the major players importing to your region. You will notice, that considerable part of aluminium products is supplied to Europe by Russia.

Be on the lookout for the materials needed for your specific projects. Comparing products and companies can be helpful as well. In addition to the price, bear in mind other factors, such as the quality of goods, the distance of the production site from your company, the business’s reputation and flexibility of the supplier. In any case, it is recommended to work with suppliers that have a strong and reliable export history.

Study customs regulations

To ensure a smooth imports into the destination country, all formalities at the customs must be completed correctly. Customs regulations are very extensive and differ depending on the origin of the goods, their quantity, value, need for certification, and other parameters. Therefore, you should specifically target information about the goods you are planning to import. To begin with, we advise you to work with a customs agent and consult a customs specialist. Government and non-profit organizations can provide support in many cases, for example in Germany, the Chambers of Commerce offer free advice on all customs formalities.

European environmental protection requirements should also be considered during import activities. In 2023, the EU introduced the first climate tariff on goods causing particularly high CO2 emissions. Although this tariff doesn’t imply any tax payments until 2027, calculations of emmissions, as well as the provision of calculated data are required by legal acts. That is why you should consider suppliers that meet European climate protection requirements in the first place.

Calculate import costs

The import costs of aluminium profiles into the EU will probably remain at a low level. Nevertheless, it is particularly important to clear all budget matters as efficiently as possible and bear in mind not only the prices offered but also shipping and insurance costs, possible customs duties and taxes. Additionally, exchange rate fluctuations should be considered in your estimations if the materials are paid for in a foreign currency. This, among other things, will enable you to determine the order quantity above which an import is cost-effective for you. In our experience, large import quantities are more attractive than domestic deliveries.

Risk assessment

When you start importing goods, all risks should be accurately assessed. This includes the supplier’s solvency check and the estimate of other risks that may result from the collaboration. Note that these aspects deserve special attention in the case of a pre-payment.

Place an order

Based on your material needs, place your first international order. It would make more sense to start with a small order or product samples. The latter is a common practice when importing aluminium profiles. In this way, you can ensure the reliability of your supplier and get to know all aspects of the imports without bearing high financial risk. Also, do not underestimate delivery time, while it goes hand in hand with the next step in your organization plans.

Get to know delivery options / Research delivery options

Particular attention should be paid to the supply chain as it affects the import procedure and the time when you receive your goods. When it comes to imports from Russia, it is a common practice for a supplier to organize a delivery on DAP terms.   Check if your supplier works with a reliable forwarder that specializes in international, cross-border freight transport. When choosing a delivery method, the supplier should consider the cost, speed, and associated risks.  Don’t forget to involve a professional customs broker with an expertise in all the clearance procedures.

Draw conclusions and develop a strategy

Review the results of your first import from abroad and carefully weigh all the pros and cons. If the goods meet your requirements, the cost is reasonable and the efficiency is ensured, continue to expand the imports. If not, you can try other suppliers, including those specializing in international trade.

However, it is important to mention that you need a well-coordinated team of suppliers, transport companies, and customs agents for the import to pay off in the long run and become more and more profitable. Of course, this takes time and networking with other companies, which is worth investing into.


It is our impression that European companies tend to build long-term commercial relationships to work continuously and securely with the same established partners. The same applies to international trade. Under certain circumstances, it can become your competitive advantage in the domestic market if imports offer you additional benefits.

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