If someone else had written this article a few years ago it would've saved me a ton of time, money, and headache.
Back in 2008 we had an order to fill for a turnkey Toshiba Aquilion 16 slice CT scanner here in the USA. We had a system lined up to fill that order in Asia. Our mantra was, "The World is Flat," so we crated it and shipped it to our facilities in Michigan.
Good to go, right? Nope. The US government had other plans.
You see, although a Toshiba CT is basically the same everywhere in the world, the import/export markings are not. Our unit from Asia did not have the correct marking for sale within the US (a CFR tag), nor did it have the proper European marking (a CE tag). We had officially hit a great big snag.
We spent quite a bit of extra time and effort finding an acceptable solution, albeit an expensive one. In the end, our customer was happy with an alternate Toshiba CT and we had a great system to take into our parts inventory.
This was definitely a "lemons into lemonade" scenario that ended a little sour for us, but we learned a couple of valuable lessons we want to pass on:
- If you plan to import a system, be sure you have representation on the ground in the country of origin.
- Most equipment can be imported to the US without problems, but not all. If you're not an expert in importing, partner with someone who is and be specific with them about your needs.
- The Affordable Care Act has added some cumbersome tracking procedures and requirements. Our Compliance Manager and Legal Counsel have helped us navigate these legislative changes. As you consider importation, make sure you've consulted with experts who know the law.
Does importing carry some extra risks? Sure, but that doesn't meant you have to carry it. Our experience has taught us a lot and we put that to work for our customers. If you are looking for a CT scanner or other system, let us know and we'll find it, wherever in the world it might be.