Finding reliable suppliers can be agonizing. You may be separated by more than just thousands of miles. Language barriers, cultural obstacles and time differences make it difficult to build trusting relationships with overseas vendors. And that's not to mention the huge number of scammers, amateurs and middlemen that abound at trade shows and, especially, in online marketplaces.  Nothing can replace face-to-face meetings and in-person factory inspections. You should trust nobody until you've seen the facility with your own eyes. But trips overseas can be extremely expensive and enormously time consuming, so before you go you should perform as much due diligence as possible on the factories you're thinking about working with.  One great way to check up on a factory you'd like to work with is to tap into their actual history of shipping goods to the U.S. and other countries using public records. As it turns out, the shipping manifests for ocean cargo entering the U.S. and many Latin American countries are considered public documents.  While many governments make these shipping data available, they generally charge hefty processing fees and make no effort to organize the data in a useful manner. Private companies like almost any factory's shipping history available to their subscribers while also offering a variety of free search tools to the public.  If you're thinking about working with any new supplier, run their name through the free search tool at to get an overview of their shipping history. You'll get a graph of their recent exporting history, as well as a sample shipment with the name of at least one company they've sold goods to in the U.S.  You can also use these data to identify suppliers who are already selling goods to companies that you admire. What better way to find a great new overseas vendor than to find a company that already supplies the leading brands in your industry. You'll have a lot more confidence that they're a legit company while also getting a pretty good idea of what type of quality you'll get.  Why reinvent the wheel when these companies with bigger, more experienced sourcing departments have already done their homework and picked a supplier they can trust!