compliance checklist


These are the international compliance traps you can avoid with good translation

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Whether it’s recruitment, packaging or online sales, it pays to know that you’re meeting the legal requirements of every country you’re trading in. Here’s why language and translation play a huge role in international compliance.

Employment law compliance

If you are transferring or replicating any part of your business within your target country, you must be absolutely clear about your responsibilities as an overseas employer.

As we’ve pointed out before, some territories have specific laws which dictate that things like risk assessments must be understood by all staff. But that only scratches the surface of international employment law compliance that ranges from recruiting employees to absences, holidays and training.

As well as taking the relevant legal advice, make sure your HR documentation is properly localised into terms and references that are understood by every employee, regardless of their nationality.

Packaging and labelling compliance

The requirements for labelling and packaging vary across different territories. Depending on the compliance legislation, you may be required to translate some or all of the information on your product, especially things like safety warnings and instructions for use. You must also be careful about the claims your product makes about its benefits and be aware that you may be required to include more than one language, depending on the country.

Naturally, food and beverage products are subject to even tighter regulations. From additives to allergen information, storage requirements to measurement units, it pays to check and double-check the translation requirements.

Online compliance

Your website is your biggest window to your wider export market. It also means that you still need to meet the compliance requirements of all your chosen countries. Make sure that your terms and conditions are translated by a legal translation expert and display them prominently on your site. Include your terms of trade, any relevant guarantees, your returns and refunds policy and any aftersales service. If any of these policies don’t apply to overseas customers, make sure this is absolutely clear.

It’s important to highlight your business’s physical location as well, along with any extra charges for overseas shipping or insurance and a currency calculator to help your foreign customers make purchases more easily.

The advent of GDPR also means your privacy policy needs to be properly translated. If you’re part of – or sell to – the EU, you are obliged to ensure your website users fully understand how their data is collected and processed. Just having an English version won’t fulfil your obligations.

Export documentation compliance

Inaccurate or badly translated paperwork can lead to shipping delays, extra costs or even deals falling through completely. But if you want your product to arrive at all, complying with your target country’s customs and duties should be an absolute priority. From certificates of origin to bills of lading, having the relevant documents available in the languages of both importer and exporter is extremely useful if you want to avoid any misunderstandings.

Plus, a properly translated contract can be the difference when it comes to a favourable arbitration ruling should there ever be a dispute between yourself and the importer.

If you’re based in the UK, sending products to EU states is relatively hassle-free at the moment, but this could change dramatically depending on the type of Brexit deal agreed. If a new free trade deal is agreed then life could continue relatively unchanged, but there is also the possibility of the introduction of tariffs, customs delays and plenty of extra red tape.

To get an idea of any additional documents that may need translating, it’s worth exploring the Institute of Export and International Trade’s Brexit Checklist, which covers every consideration from UK tariff codes to Free Trade Agreements.

How to do your research

Firstly, look at your competition. If you produce consumer goods, it pays to make a visit to your intended country and pick up some of your competitors’ products to see what you need to include on your packaging.

It’s also worth conducting a detailed analysis of websites in your industry which are already selling to your target market to assess what information your own site is missing.

Of course, this isn’t really an option when it comes to ensuring compliance with international employment law, so it will be necessary to get the right professional advice.

In addition, you can always explore the government’s Exporting Country Guides, which offer insight into the necessary legal, tax and customs compliance considerations.

When it comes to any type of international legal compliance, there is no such thing as being over-cautious. A smooth overseas operation depends on efficient communication regarding every aspect of your business.

If you would like to discuss the translation for any part of your exporting operation, contact one of our project managers today.