Request Import Product Samples and Have Them Inspected

By John J. Capela

After you’ve identified potential suppliers and specific products, you may feel like your work is done. But before you buy anything, you need to request product samples. You can use these samples to verify the product’s quality as well as to make presentations to prospective customers. You can also use product samples in identifying the product’s designated Harmonized Tariff Classification Code — samples are required in your request for a binding ruling.

Also, if you decide to make a purchase and you want to have the product inspected by an independent inspection company (because you can’t visit the country and inspect the goods yourself), you need samples to present to the inspection company. The cost of the services of the inspection company varies based on the value of the shipment and which country the goods are coming from.

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing, and certification company. SGS inspects and verifies the quantity, weight, and quality of traded goods. To have a product inspected, you contact SGS (201 Route 17 North, Rutherford, NJ 07070; phone 201-508-3000) and provide it with the following:

  • Information on the product (specifications)

  • The point of shipment

  • The name and address of the supplier

  • The intended ship date

When the goods are ready for shipment, the SGS representative in that country visits and inspects that cargo prior to and during the loading process. After the inspection, and if everything is in order, SGS issues a certified certificate of inspection, confirming that the goods are, in fact, as ordered. If the goods arrive and they aren’t what you ordered, you can file a claim. If the cargo is correct but arrives in a damaged condition, you have a claim against the cargo insurance company.

You can contact the world headquarters of SGS at SGS SA, 1 Place des Alpes, P.O. Box 2152, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland; phone +41 22 739 91 11. From the website, you can look up contact information for the entire worldwide network of SGS offices.

Inspection can be costly, so as your relationship grows with a potential supplier, you may be able to eliminate the need for outside inspection. But you should be aware of the inspection option and use it when you have any concerns or want to reduce risk.