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 You are in: Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs > Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs > Doing Business in International Markets > Business FAQ

Doing Business Abroad


Q. How is the Department of State working on my behalf to level the playing field on which to compete for foreign investment and trade?

A. The Office of Commercial and Business Affairs (CBA) is the primary point of contact for business concerns within the State Department. CBA services include:

  • Problem-solving assistance to U.S. companies
  • Dialogue with the U.S. private sector to ensure that business concerns are factored into foreign policy
  • Programs and practices to improve the Department's support for business
Through U.S. embassies, CBA helps ensure that American farmers, business people, and workers succeed in the growing global marketplace. Each embassy and/or consulate has officers who are responsible for assisting U.S. businesses abroad.
  • Commercial Officers advise U.S. businesses on local trade and tariff laws, government procurement procedures, and business practices; identify potential importers, agents, distributors, and joint venture partners; provide information on local government tenders; and assist with trade and investment disputes. Note: Commercial Officers are listed in the publication Key Officers of Foreign Service Posts

  • Also contact Country Desk Officers at the Department of State and the U.S. Commercial Service for country-specific information.
Q. Where is the first stop for companies seeking information about federal export assistance programs?

A. For assistance with exporting U.S. products contact the Trade Information Center (TIC), of the Department of Commerce. The Trade Information Center (TIC) is a comprehensive resource for information on all U.S. Federal Government export assistance programs.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency can also help U.S. companies pursue overseas business opportunities. Also check the publication a Basic Guide to Exporting.

For personalized service call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723). Hearing-impaired callers can use a toll-free telecommunication device: 1-800-TDD-TRADE (1-800-833-8723)

Q. What organizations and government services are available to help me export?

A. Below is a listing of general and specialized export service links.

The Trade Compliance Center (TCC) of the International Trade Administration and the U.S. Commercial Service

For more specialized assistance, please review the following agencies:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) - Administers programs that support exports of agricultural products, including initiatives to combat unfair competition.

  • Country Directories of International Contacts (CDIC) - Provides the names and contact information for importers, agents, trade associations, and government agencies on a country-by-country basis. Available on the NTDB.

  • Customized Market Analysis ( CMA) - Provides a research service to firms with specific information on marketing and conducting foreign business in order to determine marketability, key competitors, possible partners, etc.

  • International Trade Administration (ITA) - Commerce Department office that specializes in the facilitation of trade by product or industrial sector.

  • Market Access Compliance (MAC) - MAC officers help U.S. businesses to overcome barriers to trade and investment.

    My Export.com is an exporter referral service that connects exporters to the global marketplace

  • Small Business Administration (SBA) - Provides a full range of export assistance services to small businesses just entering the international export market.

  • U.S. Trade Development Agency (TDA) - Helps U.S. businesses obtain grants on a transaction-specific basis for foreign development projects.

  • U.S. Business Advisor - Links all federal organizations assisting or regulating information and services the government provides for business.

  • Ex-Im Bank - Supports U.S. exports by offering U.S. exporters loans, guarantees, and insurance products to compete in the global marketplace

    Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) -- sells investment services to assist U.S. companies investing in some 140 emerging economies around the world.

  • U.S. Export Assistant Centers (USEACs) - Provides U.S. companies information on markets abroad, international contacts, and advocacy services.

  • Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) - Provides information for U.S. exporters confronted with problems surrounding international trade agreements.

Q. What U.S. agency can provide me with trade leads?

A. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) receives technology requests and distributes trade leads to registered U.S. companies. The Global Technology Network (GTN) is a program aimed at matching the technological needs of companies in developing countries with solutions from small- and medium-size U.S. companies.

Q. My overseas supplier (or customer) tells me I need to provide them with documentation from the U.S. Government. What paperwork is required?

A. Fifteen agencies are involved in the issuance of certificates, export control licenses, and other documentation for purchasing from and selling to overseas partners.

  • The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) provides assistance on export licensing requirements and required documentation for export transactions
Depending on your product, BXA may refer you to another agency, which may include: Q. What forms does the Office of Defense Trade Controls (DTC) provide? Do I need a form?

A. Contact the Office of Defense Trade Controls (DTC) if the item in question involves a dual-use-product (defense-related materials or equipment, e.g., computers, munitions, and certain raw materials). From the DTC web site you can:

If your material or services does not require DTC review, then the next office to contact is the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) which provides:
  • Export assistance on licensing requirements
  • Required documentation for export transactions
  • Assistance in selecting the appropriate license
Q. Where can I find a listing of U.S. companies doing business abroad?

A. Contact the Chamber of Commerce which represents more than 3 million businesses and organizations.

Q. How can the embassy or consulate in the foreign country assist me in conducting business?

A. Establishing contact with the embassy or consulate before conducting business will provide you with current information on economic, trade, business trends and practices.

If you are currently outside of the United States and need to contact the U.S. Embassy, click U.S. Missions Online

If you are in the United States, contact the Department of State Country Offices

Q. How do I authenticate documents to be used overseas?

A. The State Department's Office of Authentication provides certification of all documents used by citizens and foreign nationals overseas.

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