If you’re thinking about going international with your trade show exhibits, you naturally have to consider how to handle international trade show shipping as well. Moving your products, materials, and exhibits within your country for trade expos is hassle enough. But when you’re going international, it’s important to streamline and understand the additional rules and processes you must follow.

Importing is a tricky process, which is why it’s best to source materials and build your exhibit within the country where you plan to exhibit. Sometimes that isn’t possible, but there are still ways you can manage international trade show shipping efficiently. Keep reading for tips about going beyond your nation’s borders for your next expo.

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International Trade Show Shipping Tips

Shipping items over a country’s border is no easy feat. There are countless rules and regulations concerning:

  • What items you can and cannot bring
  • How they must be documented
  • And other restrictions that may change often.

For example, take a look at the Government of Canada’s information about importing items into the country. It’s helpful to have so many pages to help you navigate the various aspects of importation, but the sheer number of pages shows just how many different rules and regulations come into effect when you’re shipping across borders. If you have the chance, it’s easier to avoid importing altogether.

Avoid Importing When Possible

To minimize your need to import, you should try to source as much as possible from the expo’s resident country, including:

  • Your trade show booth
  • Furniture
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Electronics
  • Printed materials
  • Freebies

Even your company products may be easier to acquire in the country you’re traveling to if they’re being sold there. Similarly, if you can reduce the number of staff you need to travel to the expo by making outside hires within the country, you can reduce your flight and hotel costs.

When it comes to your exhibit and furniture, natural materials in particular tend to have harsh restrictions when it comes to their movement across borders. Natural, untreated wood, plants, and other biological materials are typically scrutinized heavily due to the possibility of carrying invasive insects.

To avoid breaking a rule you may not have even known about and risking delays, fines, or legal issues, it’s best to use local materials in the country you’re visiting rather than importing. If you must import, keep reading for tips to help streamline the process.

Tips for Importing Successfully

Sometimes when exhibiting internationally, you’ll have to deal with international trade show shipping and importation regulations. When you do, it’s important that you take extra steps to streamline the process and take precautions:

  • Give yourself plenty of time. Shipping your items can take significantly longer than you might think—it can take up to several months in some cases. The logistics can also be tricky and time-consuming, even if you’re used to shipping for trade shows at home. To avoid any delays because of extensive customs times, plan months ahead and send your items over well in advance of your show.
  • Prioritize must-ship items. It’s likely that you won’t be able to avoid international trade show shipping altogether when planning to exhibit abroad. You should, however, try to focus on the items that you absolutely need to send across country lines. Minimizing your total imports can decrease the amount of time and headache dedicated to shipping your show materials to the expo location.
  • Identify items under the most scrutiny. Certain items are scrutinized more heavily than others when shipped across borders. The most common groups of items under this additional scrutiny are electronics and natural materials. Plan ahead for this by familiarizing yourself with the regulations associated with shipping different items to your destination and plan accordingly.
  • Work with experienced shippers. Not all shipping companies are equal. Some are better at certain things than others, and when going international, it’s imperative that you find one skilled in international shipping. Finding a company that is experienced in shipping items across borders—particularly for trade shows—will save you from headaches in the future.
  • Work with a trusted exhibit rental partner abroad. Renting an exhibit abroad will reduce your costs while also simplifying your logistics. Working with an experienced exhibit rental company can help you navigate your international trade show more easily.

Rent Your Exhibit In-Country

An example of an exhibit that Cardinal Expo designed and built for a company in Louisiana. Renting an exhibit from a U.S. company like ours can reduce the need for international trade show shipping.

If you’re on a budget, renting your exhibit is usually the most efficient way to spend your funds. Exhibiting in a foreign country can contain hidden costs that can affect your organization’s finances in unexpected ways, making it even more important to be fiscally responsible. Renting an exhibit gives you:

  • Peace of mind. If you’re exhibiting in the U.S. from abroad, for example, renting an exhibit from Cardinal Expo will grant you peace of mind over your booth’s full lifecycle management. With our national footprint, we can manage shows anywhere in the United States, saving you the trouble of finding different trade show companies for different U.S. shows. Cardinal handles exhibit design, logistics and shipping, installation and dismantling, and more. Renting your exhibit from a trusted partner allows you to focus on getting yourself to the expo, without having to also worry about your trade booth itself.
  • Time. Are you stressed about finding a way to get everything you need to the expo and running your business at the same time? Renting an exhibit in-country can alleviate the time constraints of international trade show shipping, as well as expedite the process of getting your booth set up on the trade show floor.
  • Professionalism. Are you worried about your booth having a professional design that’s appropriate for an international expo? Or getting your booth installed by people who know the business? These are common issues when businesses are looking to attend their next trade show. Avoid these concerns by renting a booth with Cardinal Expo for your U.S. shows, and our professional designers and installation crew will handle the rest.

If you’re interested in more ways to maximize your booth budget, read our tips for getting great trade show booth design on a budget.

Find an In-Country Crew

Shows in the United States often function differently than they do in Europe, Asia, or elsewhere in the world. To help your organization deal with this, you should hire workers for your crew that currently reside within the expo’s home country, or at least are familiar with the rules and norms associated with the industry in that area. 

To be clear: it will likely be cheaper to hire a crew from the country where you’re exhibiting. If you must hire from outside of that country, however, it’s imperative that you find workers who have experience or knowledge regarding the expos that take place in the country you’re going to be exhibiting in.

There are certain rules, regulations, and even cultural norms that may not present themselves until you’re already on the show floor. Prepare yourself for this by finding professionals who have the knowledge necessary to assist your organization in operating within a foreign environment.

Do Your Research

Every country, expo, and business are different. While you can prepare for most eventualities with a guide like this one, it’s important to take your time and go in-depth on the specific country where you’re going to exhibit.

Familiarize yourself with tariffs, banned items, and other laws regarding imports in that country. These can help you identify the items you’re willing to bring across borders, identify the items you’re going to purchase or rent in the new country, and identify those you’re willing to leave behind. 

It’s important to become intimately familiar with the laws and regulations in the country you’re going to so you can avoid breaking a rule on accident and getting into trouble. Punishments can be harsh for breaking import laws, and you don’t want to do time or pay a fine to atone for a mistake. If you’re looking for more tips regarding international trade show shipping, check out the guide put together by FLS Transport.

Rent a U.S. Booth with Cardinal Expo

If you’re still struggling to figure out international trade show shipping to the U.S., consider renting your exhibit from Cardinal Expo. Our company has decades of combined industry experience, and we know the ins and outs of getting your organization to expos across the U.S.

Cardinal Expo offers logistics and shipping services, exhibit design, booth installation and deconstruction at the expo, and more services to ensure that all you need to focus on is your flight ticket. View our services page to see how Cardinal Expo can help your organization or contact us below.

Contact Us Today

We at Cardinal Expo are here to answer any questions you may have, provide you with additional information, and create an effective solution for your exhibit needs.

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