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Let's borrow and expand on Can a foreigner setup an unstaffed company in United States?.

Everyone knows that you can rent computing resources from Amazon.com in the cloud, but not many know that they also offer their physical warehouse and shipping facilities as a service, too, visible to the end-customers as Fulfilled by Amazon.

What would be the appropriate legal structure for a foreigner from Hong Kong to sell products from China through the U.S. warehouses of Amazon to the U.S. customers? Do they have to setup an unstaffed US company, or a would a subsidiary in their own country suffice?

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A Google search for foreign company fulfilled by amazon returned these pages:

The gist is that non-resident sellers have to do at least the following to sell to U.S. customers on FBA:

  • Not be located in a country subject to a comprehensive embargo.
  • Have staff with enough English proficiency to understand contracts.
  • Identify itself to the Internal Revenue Service, an agency of the U.S. Treasury, by providing Form W-8BEN to Amazon during seller account registration.
  • Research which goods are subject to import duties, using information provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on its website.
  • Hire a customs broker in the port city and grant it power of attorney to handle certain documents. These are listed on CBP's website. Amazon's designated customs broker is Samuel Shapiro and Company, and major international express couriers (DHL, FedEx, and UPS) may also provide this service.
  • Have your customs broker obtain an import entry bond.
  • Obtain an importer number from the port where your goods enter the U.S. using CBP Form 5106. Your customs broker may help you with this.
  • Ensure that you have the rights under copyright, patent, and trademark law to sell this product in the U.S. Do not attempt to import counterfeit products. Several things may make a product illegal to sell in the U.S., despite it being legal in your own country. Examples include a copyright or trademark license that is territorially limited, a copyright on an underlying work that has expired in your country but not under the U.S.'s 95 year rule for pre-1978 or corporate authored works, or a U.S. patent that has no counterpart in your country, especially a software patent.
  • Ensure that the product is not otherwise a prohibited import, such as a dangerous food or toy or a controlled drug. Again, CBP's website is authoritative.
  • Pay all applicable duties in advance of shipment.

There is nothing about having to start a U.S.-resident subsidiary, though a business may choose to do so for other reasons related to anticipated growth of the company's U.S. operations.

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