What is an Importer of Record (IOR)? A Comprehensive Guide for Importing Goods

8 May 2023

What is the Definition of an Importer of Record(IOR)?

The importer of record (IOR) is the entity that is legally responsible for ensuring that imported goods comply with the destination country’s relevant customs and regulatory requirements.

Many regulatory requirements for import also require local representation or a locally registered representative for tax, audit, and administrative purposes, which an IOR can fulfill.

An importer of record also facilitates the import and compliance of goods into the destination country without taking ownership of the goods at any point. The role of an IOR in the context of clinical trials differs from that of an IOR in other industries.

In clinical trials, the IOR is responsible for managing the importation of investigational drugs, medical devices, and other clinical trial supplies used in the study. These items are subject to distinctive regulatory requirements and import compliance guidelines specific to the clinical trial industry.

What are the Origins of IOR in Trade? 

The origins of IOR stemmed from the globalization of trade and commerce, which has led to an expansion of cross-border transactions and a growing need for customs compliance services.

In the past, importers were responsible for handling all aspects of customs clearance, including the preparation of documentation, payment of duties and taxes, and compliance with regulatory requirements.

However, as global trade has become more complex and regulations have become more stringent, many companies have turned to third-party service providers to handle these tasks on their behalf. This has led to the emergence of comprehensive IOR services.

The IOR typically works closely with the importer to ensure that all necessary documentation is in order and that all customs and regulatory requirements are met. This can include obtaining import licenses, ensuring that goods are correctly classified for tariff purposes, and arranging any required inspections or certifications.

The role of the IOR is crucial for companies new to importing or lacking the expertise and resources to handle customs compliance independently.

By working with an experienced IOR, these companies can ensure that their goods are cleared through customs quickly and efficiently and comply with all relevant regulations.

The History of IOR

The history of Importer of Record (IOR) can be traced back to the mid-20th century when international trade became more complex, and countries began implementing stricter customs and regulatory requirements.

This allowed importers to focus on their core business activities while external contractors handled customs compliance and logistics complexities.

In the early days of IOR, these providers focused primarily on providing customs clearance services. However, as regulations continued to evolve and become more complex, IORs began to take on a more strategic role in the supply chain.

Today, IORs provide various services, including compliance management, import/export consulting, and shipment optimization.

In recent years, the importance of IORs has grown even further as companies have faced increased scrutiny from customs and regulatory authorities.

With the increased emphasis on compliance and global trade, IORs have become an essential part of the international supply chain. Many companies rely on IORs to ensure their shipments are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

IORs are also responsible for helping companies reduce the costs associated with international shipping and ensure that shipments arrive at their destination safely and efficiently.

The role of IORs is likely to become even more important in the future as companies continue to expand their global reach and face more complex regulatory challenges. IORs have become critical partners for importers, helping them to navigate the complex world of customs compliance and avoid potential penalties and delays.

As regulations continue to evolve and become more complex, the role of IORs is likely to become even more critical in ensuring that goods are imported and exported efficiently and in compliance with all customs and regulatory requirements.

What are the Key Responsibilities of an IOR?  

The IOR assumes responsibility for customs clearance on behalf of the importer. The key duties of an IOR include:

The role of an IOR is critical to ensuring that imported goods are cleared through customs smoothly and in compliance with all relevant regulations.

By assuming responsibility for customs clearance on behalf of the importer, the IOR can help to streamline the import process and ensure that goods reach their destination in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Companies around the world offer various IOR services for a range of industries. Many IOR services specialize in one aspect of IOR responsibilities. However, there are a few companies that provide end-to-end solutions.

 Here are the steps you can follow to get an IOR:

By following these steps, you can find an IOR to help you navigate the complex world of customs compliance and ensure that your imports reach their destination promptly.

What are The Risks of Not Having an IOR?

Not having an Importer of Record (IOR) can have profound implications for companies involved in international trade. Here are some of the potential consequences of not having an IOR:

What Makes IOR for Clinical Trials Different From Other Types of IOR?

A clinical trial Importer of Record (IOR) is a specific importer responsible for ensuring that all imported clinical trial materials comply with local regulatory requirements. The IOR takes on legal responsibility for the imported goods, including compliance with all relevant laws and regulations, and assumes liability for any issues that may arise during the import process.

Compared to other types of importers, such as regular importers or distributors, clinical trial IORs have specific expertise in importing clinical trial materials. They are familiar with the regulatory requirements governing the importation of clinical trial materials and have experience navigating the complexities of the clinical trial supply chain.

Clinical trial IORs may also be required to provide additional services such as handling and storing the clinical trial materials, labeling and packaging, and distribution to clinical trial sites. These additional services ensure that the clinical trial materials are delivered promptly and efficiently while complying with all relevant regulatory requirements.

The main difference between a clinical trial IOR and other importers is their specialized expertise and knowledge of the clinical trial supply chain and legal and regulatory responsibilities.

One distinct difference for an IOR in clinical trials is the need to adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Clinical Practices (GCP) guidelines.

GMP guidelines ensure that the clinical trial supplies are manufactured and distributed in a controlled environment and meet the required quality standards. GCP guidelines ensure that the clinical trial is conducted following ethical principles and that the rights, safety, and well-being of the trial subjects are protected.

Another difference is that the IOR in clinical trials may need additional permits and authorizations from regulatory authorities.

For example, in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires an importer of record to obtain an Investigational New Drug (IND) permit before importing investigational drugs for use in a clinical trial.

The IOR in clinical trials must thoroughly understand the specific regulatory requirements and guidelines that apply to the country where the clinical trial is being conducted. These requirements may vary depending on the country, including importation permits, labeling requirements, and customs clearance procedures.

Overall, the role of an importer of record in clinical trials is crucial for ensuring that the clinical trial supplies are imported legally and in compliance with all applicable clinical trial regulations and guidelines and that the trial is conducted safely and ethically.

To import medical equipment to your trial sites or for assistance with medical IOR, contact us today.

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