U.S. Export Controls

Summary

Exporting — that is, the shipment or transmission of items or material outside of the U.S. — is subject to federal laws and regulations referred to as "export controls." These controls affect the export of commodities (goods and materials), technology (technical data and know-how) and software from the U.S. to foreign countries. They also affect the re-export of any such U.S. items from one foreign country to another, as well as products made outside the U.S. by or for a U.S. company.

As a general rule, high-technology items — particularly those with military or intelligence applications — require a license to be exported, while low-technology items may be exported to most destinations and end-users without an export license.

But there are many exceptions to this rule. In addition, the U.S. government maintains a list of sanctioned countries, entities and individuals with whom U.S. companies are prohibited from doing any business.

Three government agencies oversee most export-licensing transactions:

  • The State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) regulates the export of defense articles, services and related technical data through its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR);
  • The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) regulates the export of commercial and dual-use commodities, technology and software through its Export Administration Regulations (EAR); and
  • The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulates embargoes and economic sanctions against various foreign countries and entities. These programs are intended to further U.S. security interests and foreign policy.

In many cases, companies are held strictly liable — that is, liable whether the violations were intentional or not — for violations of export and anti-boycott regulations. Employees may also incur individual penalties for violations. Possible penalties include fines, imprisonment, seizure or forfeiture, and suspension or loss of export privileges.

© WeComply/Thomson Reuters

Key Resources

For your convenience, ACC has compiled the following key resources to assist you in your compliance efforts.

For more try searching ACC's online library for "Export Controls"

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