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FAQs: U.S. Export License

Export licenses are government-issued documents certifying that items leaving the U.S. have been reviewed and granted permission for export.

Q: Do I Need an Export License?
A: About 95% of shipments leaving the U.S. don’t need one since only a small number of exports, such as high-end weapon systems, require this document.


Q: Can I sell my products to anyone I please, so long as they don’t require an export license?
A: While the rules about export licenses determine whether you can ship products overseas, just because you don’t need one doesn’t mean you can sell to anyone you’re doing business with. It is ultimately up to the exporter to do due diligence regarding the final sale and decide if they are entitled to ship to certain countries or individual users.


Q: Who decides whether a product can be sold to a foreign entity?
A: The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the U.S. State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls are responsible for deciding which items require U.S. government approval for export. Different products fall under the jurisdiction of different agencies, and the retailer is responsible for
determining which ones should review their goods.


Q: What is EAR, and how is it related to getting an export license?
A: Most goods that can be applied for commercial and military use, along with certain items intended for only one, are regulated by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which BIS administers. EAR is responsible for ensuring U.S.-developed weapons don’t fall into enemy hands.

You can access the Commerce Control List of the U.S. Department of Commerce to help determine if your item must be approved by EAR before export.
❖ If your product is subject to EAR but not listed on the CCL, it is designated as EAR99. Most EAR99 items don’t require a special license before export. EAR99 items may still require a BIS export license depending on their destination, end user, and intended use.
Q: How do you determine the right ECCN?
A: You can either:

❖ Refer to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to access the Classification Information Table from its website. You will see a listing of companies that have voluntarily provided information for ECCN classifications.
https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/licensing/commerce-control-list-classification/publicly-available-classification-information
❖ Ask the manufacturer or supplier to provide it.
❖ Look it up yourself. (Having information regarding your item’s technical makeup will help with the process).

Q: What concrete steps can I take to ensure EAR is submitted?
A: It is extremely important (and costly if omitted) to abide by EAR guidelines. Establishing a regulated process for recognizing products subject to EAR and adapting company software to flag potential issues are recommended steps for ensuring compliance. It’s also important to keep a record of individuals and entities on the U.S. embargo list. You can access the government’s Consolidated Screening List (CSL) for a full listing of these. This list is also helpful for awareness of license requirements outside of EAR.
❖ It is recommended to create an organized compliance plan of action to ensure the process is managed automatically to avoid the risk of omitting
key steps.

Q: What information should be included in the EAR form?
A: The EAR must include: Export classification and all of your product’s license numbers such as the Commercial Invoice and the Automated Commercial
Environment (ACE) AESDirect.