Dual Use Export Licenses

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce is responsible for regulating the export of most commercial items, often referred to as “dual-use” items which are those having both commercial and military or proliferation applications. Relatively few exports of dual-use items require obtaining an export license from BIS prior to shipment.

Dual use export licenses are required in certain situations involving national security, foreign policy, short-supply, nuclear non-proliferation, missile technology, chemical and biological weapons, regional stability, crime control, or terrorist concerns. The license requirements are dependent upon an item's technical characteristics, the destination, the end-use, and the end-user, and other activities of the end-user. Even if a license is not required, there may be additional requirements you must satisfy prior to exporting. Before shipping your product, make sure you understand the concept of dual use and the basic export control regulations, including end-user and end-use based controls.

Is an Export License Required?

The first step in establishing whether a dual-use item (i.e. commodity, software or technology) requires a license is to determine the product’s Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) on the Commerce Control List (CCL). ECCNs identify reasons for control which indicate licensing requirements to certain destinations. Other reasons an export license may be required for your shipment relate to concerns about the parties to the transaction and the end-use of the item.

If your item falls under U.S. Department of Commerce jurisdiction and is not listed on the CCL, it is designated as EAR99. EAR99 items generally consist of low-technology or consumer goods and do not require a license in many situations. If your proposed export of an EAR99 item is to an embargoed country, to an end-user of concern or in support of a prohibited end-use, you may be required to obtain a license.

Screening Your Customer

Certain individuals and organizations are prohibited from receiving U.S. exports. Others may only receive goods if the transaction has been licensed, even for items that do not normally require a license based on the ECCN and country or based on an EAR99 designation. There are various lists that may be relevant to your export or reexport transaction. These are listed below and include entities with which an exporter is prohibited from doing business, under most circumstances.

  • Denied Persons List - A list of individuals and entities that have been denied export privileges. Any dealings with a party on this list that would violate the terms of its denial order is prohibited.
  • Unverified List -A list of parties where BIS has been unable to verify the end-user in prior transactions. The presence of a party on this list in a transaction is a “Red Flag” that should be resolved before proceeding with the transaction.
  • Entity List - A list of parties whose presence in a transaction can trigger a license requirement under the Export Administration Regulations. These end users have been determined to present an unacceptable risk of diversion to developing weapons of mass destruction or the missiles used to deliver those weapons and contrary to U.S. national security and/or foreign policy interests. Inclusion on the list may also be a result of activities sanctioned by the State Department and activities contrary to U.S. national security and/or foreign policy interests
  • Specially Designated Nationals List - Alphabetical master list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons compiled by the Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
  • Debarred List - A list compiled by the State Department of parties who are barred by §127.7 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) (22 CFR §127.7) from participating directly or indirectly in the export of defense articles, including technical data or in the furnishing of defense services for which a license or approval is required by the ITAR

Due to the frequency of additions and changes to these lists, U.S. exporters need to check these lists regularly for updates.

Submitting a License Application

If you need an export license from BIS for your transaction, the SNAPR on-line electronic licensing system allows registered users to submit export and re-export license application. You must first obtain a PIN prior to submitting an electronic license application or commodity classification request.

Reporting a Possible Violation

BIS implements as well as enforces the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Export Enforcement relies heavily on the partnership it has with the business community. An online form is available to report a lead or a tip on possible export control, Fastener Quality Act (FQA), Chemical Weapons Convention Regulation (CWCR) or boycott related violations.

Additional Information

To learn more about BIS export licensing, start with the Export Basics and the On-line Training Room (link to https://www.bis.doc.gov/seminarsandtraining/seminar-training.htm) at the BIS website or call the BIS’s Office of Exporter Services in Washington, DC, (202-482-4811) or in Newport Beach, CA, (949-660-0144), and they can guide you through this process.

For additional guidance about exporting in general, please call the Trade Information Center (TIC) at (800) USA-TRADE or your local export assistance center.

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