Export Licensing

by | May 22, 2017 | Articles

*Disclaimer: This post was originally found on export.gov. Website: https://www.export.gov/article?id=Export-Licensing


U.S. Export Regulations is the third of five videos in the Plan Your Market Entry video set. As part of your export plan, you need to determine whether your product, technology or service might need an export license. This is especially important if your company sells for military or military/civilian dual use. The video outlines what you need to take into consideration, and provides an overview of Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the roles of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. State Department, and U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in export licensing.

Do I Need a License?

  • This is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive at the U.S. network of U.S. Commercial Service offices. The answer is usually “no” because 95 percent of all items exported from the United States to a foreign buyer don’t require an export license, even though the items are subject to U.S. government export control laws and regulations. These laws and regulations determine whether you can sell your product to an international buyer, which countries you can export it to, and to which buyers you can sell. However, just because your product is among the 95 percent that don’t require a license doesn’t mean that you can sell it anywhere and to anyone.

 Export Administration Regulations and the Bureau of Industry and Security

  • Most U.S.-sourced items and some internationally-sourced items that are considered dual-use (possessing both commercial and military proliferation applications), as well as certain purely commercial and munitions items, are subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), administered by theBureau of Industry and Security (BIS).
  • To determine whether your item is subject to the EAR, refer to the EAR’s Commerce Control List (CCL) to see if your item has an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). Every item specifically listed in the EAR has an assigned ECCN. If your item falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Commerce and is not listed on the CCL, it is designated as EAR99. Most EAR99 commercial products will not require a license to be exported. Depending on the destination, end user, or end use of the item, even an EAR99 item may require a BIS export license.
  • Although relatively few items subject to the EAR require export licenses, licenses are required in certain situations involving national security, foreign policy, short supply, nuclear nonproliferation, missile technology, chemical and biological weapons, regional stability, crime control, or anti-terrorism.
  • To ensure compliance with the EAR and manage export-related decisions and transactions, you can establish an Export Management and Compliance Program (EMCP). An EMCP lets you analyze pieces of information and individual decisions, and build them into an organized, integrated system. The BIS website has information on the nine core elements of an effective EMCP. In particular, note the EAR’s mandate for sufficient record keeping.
  • If you have a catalog of dozens or hundreds of items that you want to sell globally, consider creating a written compliance plan. In addition to studying the online BIS videos and publications, the person responsible for managing your company’s plan should consider attending specific EAR and export-control seminars. Visit the BIS website, or ask your local U.S. Commercial Service office for information about where to find training. You can also contact BIS for guidance on developing the plan and to review the final document.


  • An item subject to the EAR will either have a specific ECCN or be designated EAR99. When adding a product to your inventory or reviewing your current product line, ask your suppliers whether they can provide the necessary classification information; create a field in your inventory-management system for classification information; and add a related field that lists the countries to which export of that product is prohibited by the EAR or subject to licensing requirements. If you are obtaining classification information from your suppliers, work closely with them to understand how they determine the ECCN. Remember that as the exporter, you are ultimately responsible for obtaining any necessary licenses.
  • Export classification and any license numbers you receive must appear on export documentation, such as the Commercial Invoice and the Automated Export System (AES) filing; the numbers should be easily accessible in your inventory management system. For certain types of exports listed in Section 758.1 of the EAR, BIS requires the filing of electronic export information in AES, regardless of value or destination. When completing forms (on paper or online), the U.S. Postal Service and major freight carriers may require you to enter “NLR”—which means “No License Required”— for certain EAR shipments. Details on EAR99 can be found in the “ECCN Questions and Answers” section of the Bureau of Industry and Security website.
  • It’s a good idea to establish a company-wide rule that emphasizes the importance of classification under the EAR. If possible, adapt your inventory management software so it flags problematic orders. You need to be especially careful with items that are subject to the EAR, whether the items have ECCNs or are EAR99—you don’t want to inadvertently violate the EAR.

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