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Export Licensing

  • The U.S. Government maintains controls on exports and reexports
  • Several governmental agencies have jurisdiction over exports made from the U.S. 
  • The Export Administration Regulations (EAR), administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, cover most products exported/reexported from the U.S.
  • You are responsible for determining whether or not your product requires licensing under the regulations
  • Violations of export laws are punishable by civil and criminal penalties

Control of the export and reexport of commodities, software, technology, and services from the United States is maintained by the U.S. Government for the purposes of national interests and security. 

The U.S. Departments of Commerce, of Energy, Interior, and State are all involved in licensing, so the first step an exporter must take is to determine which government agency oversees the export and reexport of its products.

US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS)

The vast majority of products exported from the United States are subject to laws known as the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) through the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).  It is the primary licensing agency for dual use exports (commercial items which could have military applications).

Under the EAR, you are responsible for exporting your product only to approved destinations, end-users, and for approved end-uses.

Initially, the most important step in determining whether one's product requires a license for export or whether it can be exported under a license exception or without any license is to match the commodity's particular characteristics and functions to a specific Export Control Classification Number (ECCN)  in the Commerce Control List (CCL). The ECCN entry lists the specific commodities being controlled and the reasons for control for each commodity.

To determine whether an export license is required, you must match the specific reason for control against the country of destination listed in the EAR's Country Chart

If a check of the Country Chart indicates that a license is required for shipment, a follow up examination of the EAR's licensing exceptions should be conducted to determine whether any exceptions are available for the intended export. If so, the export may be made under the exception as long as it is not destined to a prohibited end-user or for a prohibited end-use. If a check with the Country Chart reveals that no license is required, the shipment may be made under the designation "NLR" with the same end-user, end-use caveats that apply to license exception shipments.

As you will find, the EAR is lengthy and complex.

We recommend that potential exporters use the following link to gain an understanding of the EAR as a first step in conducting a licensing determination.

Export Administration Regulation - Basics of Export Licensing Controls

The following links are provided for reference:

US Department of Energy

US Department of the Interior

US Department of State

US Department of Treasury

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