When planning an international meeting or conference, attention to detail is critical to success. While many aspects of the domestic planning process are applicable regardless of location, taking your group outside the United States requires additional knowledge and access to resources.


We all want our conferences to provide good value for the money spent. When working internationally, it is important to consider the implications of the VAT, or Value Added Tax. Understanding the ways in which this tax is assessed can make or break your budget.

For example, Mexico levies a 16% VAT if a program is defined as an “incentive trip/program.” If instead you were to term the gathering as a meeting or a conference, and scheduled a group meeting over breakfast, there would be no VAT. If you were to be planning your event in Barcelona, where a 21% VAT is assessed, purchasing through a local operator would greatly reduce the tax burden. These are small changes which make a big difference.

Customs, Immigration and Shipping

Moving through the customs and immigration process is another area that can affect client satisfaction. It is essential to take the time to understand the formats required by the country – these vary greatly – for people and for merchandise. Be sure to have the right people managing this area for you, as you don’t want your guests or your giveaways tied up in this process. Partnering with qualified customs brokers — who are highly knowledgeable in all entry procedures, admissibility requirements, classification, valuation, and the duties and taxes imposed on imported goods – along with hoteliers and local DMCs, will allow you far greater ability to push past any obstacles that may arise.

Since you’re likely going to ship conference materials ahead of time, be sure to research this area thoroughly. Shipping times vary greatly and as noted above, countries have varying protocols for goods and supplies entering their borders. While it might seem minor to us, a package label can be the difference between something being delivered or held at customs.

The OspreyME Difference

OspreyME has more than three decades of experience planning international travel incentives and meetings. Let us mind the details and allow yourself the luxury of focusing your efforts in your areas of expertise and your meeting’s content. Together we can deliver to your valued constituents a meeting full of memories to last a lifetime.