This articles deals with the export licensing controls for exports out of the United States. Other countries may have similar regulations that are administered in varying ways. It is often said that export control laws in the US are extra territorial. This means US authorities have jurisdiction to take exporters in the US to task, for activities they may have engaged in outside the US.
It does not mean that meeting US regulatory requirements is a substitute for meeting the regulations in other countries.
For example, if you are re-exporting controlled products containing US technology out from Singapore, you will need to meet the export controls requirements of US and the strategic goods controls of Singapore. If the cargo passes through any third country on route to its destination, you will need to meet the requirement of any similar regulations there as well.
Do I need an export license?
An export control license might be required for your product depending on the technical characteristics of the item itself, destination, end-user details and intended end-use. Physical products, technology and can require such a license. The very first step would be to understand the product well enough for you to assign an Export Control Commodity Number or ECCN, if available. You will find more information on how to do so on our article about determining an ECCN. If the item does not appear on the Commerce Control List or CCL, then it would be classified as EAR99. Under EAR99, most products do not need a validated license for export to most destinations. Check the CCL to confirm what licenses are required for the intended end destination.
It is important to note that even if the product is EAR99 with no license required, banks releasing funds on letter of credit may require proof of that classification. Hence you may still need to reach out to the Bureau of Industry and Security to confirm the ECCN and licensing requirements of your shipment, in order to receive payment.
Can I ship EAR99 products to embargoed countries?
If you have to ship to embargoed countries for humanitarian needs or aid, you have to reach out to the BIS for exemptions/approvals first.
I don’t know the real end-user of my product, can I still ship?
Willful blindness is not an excuse for failing to meet export control licensing requirements. You have to exercise due diligence to ensure you have done everything you can to ascertain that your end-user is not a denied or sanctioned party, in addition to ensuring the shipment is not going to get diverted to another end user. It is always a good idea to include an export control or restriction statement on invoices to that effect.
Do export controls apply to free gifts or samples?
Yes. The nature of the shipment and the value of the shipment do not change export control restrictions.
Do ECCNs change?
Yes they can. Export control requirements on ECCNs and end users may also change. You have to check them regularly and stay updated.
How do I use the Schedule B or HS code to determine the ECCN?
You cannot. There is no correlation between both Schedule B numbers, HS codes and the ECCN.
This whole export control thing is confusing, where can I get help?
The BIS publishes extensive help material relating to export controls on their website. You can start with this list of frequently asked questions.