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Selling Stuff Online?

Tue Nov 02 2010
Sean Kline
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If you’re like me, you’ve probably sold something online before. Most of the time, people are selling relatively inexpensive items in small quantities. So, what happens when you sell tangible items to a foreign buyer via the Internet worth more than $2500 or requiring a license to export?

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In these types of transactions, the U.S. seller will need to submit information throughthe Automated Export System (AES) detailing what has been sold. Now I realize that most people may not have frequent transactions like this, so the easiest solution would be to have a freight forwarder or the company shipping the merchandise to file the export information in the AES on their behalf. It is important to note that an Employer Identification Number (EIN) needs to be provided in the AES as an identification for the U.S. seller, whether they are an individual or a business. Therefore, if the U.S. seller does not have an EIN already, they will need to apply for one as a sole proprietor on the IRS website, www.irs.gov. View our powerpoint slides for step by step instructions:

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English

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Spanish

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What about sales through Ebay or Amazon?

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In the past, there has been a lot of confusion with sales to foreign buyers through eBay or Amazon. People argue that eBay and Amazon should be considered an order party (see ‘Who is the USPPI Anyways?’ blog post) and listed as the U.S. Principal Party in Interest (USPPI) as they are the “mechanism” for which the merchandise was sold. So what is the correct answer?

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Ebay and Amazon are not considered order parties because they do not directly negotiate the sale of the merchandise with the foreign buyer. These types of websites simply act as a medium through which people can buy and sell goods. As a result, the U.S. seller would be listed as the USPPI and is responsible for filing the export information.

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