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International Trade And Export Controls

The US has trade and export controls for items and information that may be sold to or in other countries. Our friends at Focus Law LA will tell you you’re thinking about exports as a way to expand your business, you should first find out if there are limits to what you can export.

Do You Want To Export Something Defense-Related?

The US Government’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) govern the import and export of defense-related services and items. The US Department of State – Directorate of Defense Trade Controls enforces ITAR. The ‘US Munitions List’ (USML) contains items covered by ITAR.

Do You Want To Export Something That Might Have Civilian And Military Uses?

Export Administration Regulations (EAR) are parallel to ITAR. They are the responsibility of the US Department of Commerce, not the Department of State. EAR covers exporting items designed for commercial purposes, but they may have military applications. Examples include optics, global positioning systems, and cameras. Items subject to EAR are on the Commerce Control List (CCL).

How Would ITAR And EAR Affect My Business?

Just because a product or service is on the USML or the CCL doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t export it. But you must ensure they have the proper marketing/export licenses. About 95% of all US exports don’t require a license, but that doesn’t mean that you can export it anywhere to anyone. You must do your research to make sure you comply with export controls. Whether you need a license depends on what you want to export, your buyer, and the destination. 

Do EAR And ITAR Cover Commercial Products?

The USML and the CCL have military and commercial products and services. The USML controls the export of items and technology first developed for military use. But over time, what started as military technology may be used commercially. What’s used commercially may have been on the USML or may still be there. The intended use of what you want to export doesn’t play a role in whether it’s covered by export regulations or not.

The CCL has many more “dual-use” items (they have commercial and military applications). They could be radar, navigation, or flight control systems. More items on the USML are being shifted onto the CCL, which should boost exports.

Are Just Physical Items Controlled?

Export controls cover software, information, and services related to items on the USML and the CCL. Technical data and manuals covering your product may be export-controlled. Emailing technical data to a foreign country or a foreign national as part of your sales efforts (without the correct authorizations and licenses) may violate US export controls.

Where Do I Go From Here?

The good news is there’s a strong chance you can export your item without a license or authorization. The bad news is that in addition to the practical challenges you may have done business in another country, this is a very technical area, and you must determine what limitations (if any) you face or hire an experienced international transaction lawyer to do that work for you.