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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

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  How do I apply for a passport?

A.  The Office of Consular Affairs handles all passport inquiries. You can also reach them by phone: 1-877-4USA-PPT or TDD/TTY 1-888-874-7793.

Q.  How do I authenticate a personal/business document?

A.  The Office of Verification and Authentication does this. You can also reach them by phone: 202-647-5002 or TDD/TDY 202-663-3468, 1-800-333-4636, email: aoprgsmauth@state.gov, or fax: 202-663-3636.

Q.  How do I start a business?

A.  Contact the Small Business Administration or phone your local SBA. The Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency has a nationwide network of business enterprise centers that provide management and technical assistance for U.S. minority-owned businesses, including assistance in creating business and marketing plans as well as identifying appropriate financing.

Q.  Can you tell me if Company XYZ is legitimate?

A.   If the company is located in the United States, contact the office of the Secretary of State (within the state-level government) in whichever state the company is headquartered. The Office of Authentication updates the list of Secretaries by State of the United States. If the company is located outside the United States, contact the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, part of the Department of Commerce, to get information on their International Company Profile service.

Q.  How do I incorporate my business?

A.   This is determined by the state in which you reside or plan to incorporate your business. Contact the office of the Secretary of State (this is a state government-level official, not affiliated with the U.S. Department of State). The Office of Authentication updates the list of Secretaries by State of the United States.

Q.  How do I do business with the State Department?

A.  Contact the Office of the Procurement Executive or by phone: 703-516-1684.

Q.  How do I learn about business contracts in Iraq?

A.  Links to Iraq contract information can be found on CBA’s website.

Q.  How do I get visas for business associates who plan to travel to another country?

A.  Foreign Entry requirements for Americans traveling to another country may be accessed through the website or you may contact the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit.  All visa inquiries must be handled through the embassy or consulates of the country you plan to visit.

Q.  How can I help my customer/client who is having problems getting a visa to the U.S.?

A.   Comprehensive information on visa process and policy is available on the web at www.state.gov, www.travel.state.gov, or www.unitedstatesvisas.gov. You should also check the website of the consulate in which the applicant is applying -- there is a link to U.S. Embassies and Consulates from each of the above sites. The best advice is for people to apply early.

Q.  How can a U.S. business request commercial assistance-for-fee from a U.S. Embassy or the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service?

A.   Gold Key Services, International Partner Searches, International Company Profiles and Customized Market Research reports are provided at all US&FCS offices as well as many U.S. embassies. Visit the Platinum Key Service program for more information.

Q.  Where can I find current country commercial guides for doing business abroad?

A.  Country Commercial Guides (CCGs) are prepared annually to provide a comprehensive look at commercial environments, using economic, political, and market analysis.

Q.  How can I verify whether I can do business with companies in certain countries?

A.   Information about sanctioned countries, entities, and individuals can be found through the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Q.  Where can I find other information and help with exporting?

A.   The Department of Commerce, Trade Information Center (TIC) provides resources for export/import.  Contact TIC by web at http://www.trade.gov/td/tic/ or by phone at 1-800-USA-TRADE.

Q.  How do I apply for an export license?

A.   The first point of inquiry in export licensing is the government office responsible for coordinating the process. Consult the following web pages for detailed information on areas of competence:


Q. Is my export income exempt from federal income taxes?

A. A portion of the export income that is channeled through corporations that qualify as FSCs (Foreign Sales Corporations) under rules of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 921-927) can be exempt from federal income taxes. For more information, contact:
The Office of the Associate Chief Counsel (International), Internal Revenue Service
Phone: (622) 622-3830, Fax: (202) 622-4408

Or the Office of Tax Policy
Phone: (202) 622-1755, Fax: (202) 622-8784.

Q. What assistance can the U.S. Government be in advocating on my behalf for a tender?

A. U.S. Government advocacy decisions are made with the best information available. Advocacy assistance can vary, but usually it involves companies that deal with foreign governments or government-owned corporations. Fill out an Advocacy Questionnaire or contact the Advocacy Center.

Q. Where can I go to find facts on foreign trade figures and statistics?

For General information on a country's yearly economic, political and investment climate, check the

Country Commercial Guides;
Economic Policy and Trade Practices.

For specific information check Trade Statistics available at the International Trade Administration Additional information are available at:

The National Trade Data Bank (NTDB) contains international trade-related data

The Bureau of Census provides foreign trade statistics

Bureau of Economic Analysis provides U.S. useful foreign trade data.

Q. Is there an updated directory of people, organizations and web sites that promotes global business principles and best practices?

A. The publication Resources for Promoting Global Business Principles and Practices: a Directory of People, Organizations, and Web Sites is available through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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