The U.S. Export Controls System


U.S. Export Controls System consists of Congressional legislation, executive orders, and agency regulations that seek to protect U.S. national security interests and promote foreign policy by restricting exports from the United States and re-exports from one foreign location to another of certain U.S. origin commodities, software, and technology.

These laws also restrict the disclosure of certain technical information to foreign persons in the United States or abroad, restrict the provision of certain services to foreign persons, and they require licenses and other forms of government authorization. Export controls also prohibit various dealings with parties on U.S. Government black lists, which contain the names and addresses of narcotics traffickers, weapons proliferators, terrorists, and many other bad guys with whom dealings are severely restricted and, in many cases, altogether prohibited.

The principal export control regulations most commonly encountered are the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) and the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”). The State Department is in charge of the ITAR and maintains a list of articles, technical data, and services controlled under the ITAR, known as the United States Munitions List (“USML”). The Department of Commerce is in charge of the EAR and maintains a detailed list of items and technology controlled under the EAR, known as the Commerce Control List (“CCL”).

Other export control regulations may apply, depending on the particulars of a transaction. These include regulations administered by the Departments of Treasury, Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Each of these agencies maintains their own set of regulations. At times, they share overlapping jurisdiction, and a license may be required from more than one agency for the same activity.


*The above is not intended as an exhaustive list of restrictions that may apply to a particular transaction nor advice for a specific transaction because the specifics of an individual case may implicate application of other U.S. laws as well as foreign laws that carry added or different requirements.  In addition, U.S. export control and sanctions laws are frequently subject to change.  Such changes can affect the continued validity of the information above, which is based on U.S. law existing as of October 14, 2014. For these reasons, assistance from a qualified attorney competent to advise on such matters is highly recommended.

Matthew A. Goldstein is an International Trade Attorney in Washington D.C. licensed to practice in the District of Columbia.  He can be reached at (202) 550-0040 and