Using an Importer of Record service is the most reliable way to ship IT equipment to an overseas data center. There are plenty of reasons for this, as we shall see in this article.

But first, some background.

What is a data center?

At its core, a data center is a physical premise outfitted with the IT infrastructure organizations needed to manage critical applications and data.

Data center designs are determined by the network of computing and storage equipment needed to deliver shared applications and information. The main components required typically include switches, routers, storage systems, firewalls, and application delivery controllers. These components store and manage crucial business data and applications. Combined, they provide

·         Network capability: this enables servers (both virtual and physical) to communicate. It also provides connectivity between storage devices, data center services, and end-user locations.

·         Storage infrastructure: storage systems enable data centers to handle massive loads of information

·         Computational resources: data centers need applications to handle the large amounts of data they receive. Their servers provide the memory and processing power to make this possible.

Data centers have undergone significant change in the past few years. Infrastructure has evolved from conventional on-premises physical servers to include virtual networks capable of supporting workloads and applications across various physical locations. The data center must effectively communicate across all these systems-

Why are data centers so important?

Data centers support various business activities and applications.

These include

·         file sharing and email

·         customer relationship management

·         productivity applications

·         machine learning, big data, and artificial intelligence

·         enterprise resource planning and databases

·         communications

·         virtual desktops, and collaboration services

Installing data center equipment

Installing in a data center can be a complex process, especially if you plan on doing so abroad. There are several legal and technical challenges to resolve, and sometimes, they’re impossible to solve without an importer of record service.

What is an importer of record, exactly?

An importer of record service is a third-party agent who represents the owner of imported goods. The importer of record will have a registered legal entity and physical presence in the country receiving the goods. It will also provide several other services like customs clearance and logistical support, as discussed below.

Why you need an IOR

Legal entity representation

Installing in a data center generally requires that you import dual-use goods (IT equipment such as voice, security, and storage hardware) on a large scale. This often requires that you create a legal entity in the destination country.  

An IOR will save you the trouble by providing legal entity representation. This will enable you to install import and install the required data center components quickly, with minimal disruptions. Blackthorne, for example, offers legal entity representation in 226 countries across the world.

Note: a legal entity is a company, association, or trust subject to the target country's laws and regulations. Most countries require that you operate within their borders. Unfortunately, however, the process can be expensive and time-consuming, more so if you plan to install in data centers in several overseas locations. Even when you do, the personnel in the country to which you are exporting may not have the necessary customs knowledge or accreditations to finalize customs compliance requirements and procedures.

Cost efficiency

Getting your IT equipment into highly regulated regions can take several months if you're working as an independent importer of record. Acquiring the correct licenses and permits can be an expensive and frustrating experience. If your enterprise is not directly involved in the trade and export business, the process will consume unnecessary resources. You’ll be forced to sideline your core business objectives just to ship your infrastructure.

Delegating the duties and responsibilities that come with serving as your own IOR will save you time and money. Your IOR partner will know the quickest, least expensive ways to help you meet your shipping needs.


Overseas shipping is a complex process for even the most experienced logistics professionals. Logistics companies generally understand what's needed to physically ship equipment from one place to another. However, this knowledge is insufficient when shipping technology equipment, such as the components for a data center. If you plan to send goods to a location outside open markets like the US and EU, an importer of record will help you through the documentation and customs clearance processes.

Logistical red tape

There are situations where having an office or business entity won’t be enough to import your IT hardware. You will need special import licenses and authorizations. Many firms are not even permitted to import goods because of the industries they operate and local policies. Ideal examples would be countries like China, Russia, and Mexico.-

Importer of record services will enable your procurement teams to purchase the necessary data center components then ship them to overseas locations without worrying that they will be detained by customs.

IT support and product installation.

A third-party IOR (mainly specializing in IT equipment) can leverage its global supply chain to offer various installation and maintenance services. You’ll have the benefit of trained engineers undertaking your warranty and repair needs.

They will also help you meet your service level agreements and specific KPI requirements. This level of support will allow you to penetrate emerging markets that are usually perceived as being too economically or logistically challenging without a reliable local partner. Besides assisting you in fulfilling SLAs, your IOR partner can provide value-added logistics support, including export licensing and IT product installation and maintenance.

Forward stocking locations

Forward stocking locations are small warehouses set up in close geographical proximity to the end-users of a specific product. Your IOR's forward stocking locations will enhance your existing IT and warehouse infrastructure. It will enable more robust warehousing and on-demand shipping services.

There are numerous benefits to this approach. It will significantly improve response times to your data centers. Deliveries of critical components and tools that usually take days will take hours instead. This will ensure better returns on investment from your facilities and reduce the downtime of crucial equipment for your customers.

Final thoughts

You need an IOR for overseas shipments of data center equipment. It is the best way to avoid unnecessary costs and delays.


With an established presence in over 200 countries worldwide, Blackthorne is the ideal IOR partner for your shipping needs. We offer various bespoke shipping solutions that include professional support services like IT equipment installation and maintenance. Contact us today! We'd love to help you find the right solution for your enterprise. 

Back to Blog