Most export transactions do not require specific approval from the U.S. Government, but for certain export transactions to take place legally an export license is required. Generally speaking, licenses are required when the product intended for export affects or could affect:
* National security,
* Foreign policy,
* Nuclear non-proliferation,
* Missile development,
* Aid in the development of chemical and biological weapons,
* Regional stability,
* Crime control, or
* Control of international terrorism.
Four U.S. Government agencies have primary export licensing responsibilities. They are: (1) the Department of Commerce, (2) the Department of Energy, (3) the State Department and (4) the U.S. Treasury;
The majority of exports that require a license are either on the Commerce Control List (CCL) administered by the Commerce Department, or the U.S. Munitions List (USML) administered by the State Department. The CCL is used to regulate the export and re-export of dual use items. These are items that have legitimate commercial uses as well as possible military applications. The USML is used to control the export of defense articles (e.g. guns and grenades), as well as services and related technologies.
The U.S. Defense Department is actively involved in the inter-agency review of those items controlled on both the CCL and the USML. The agencies work together when there is a question about whether a proposed export is controlled on the CCL or the USML.
The Energy Department controls exports of nuclear technology, nuclear materials and technical data. The Treasury Department is responsible for economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries and their agents, terrorists and terrorism-sponsoring organizations and international narcotics traffickers.
The federal government controls exports (and re-exports) on a case-by-case basis, reviewing the following factors:
* The country of ultimate destination,
* The ultimate end-user,
* The type of product intended to be exported,
* Its ultimate end-use, and
* The persons or entities arranging for the export to be made including banks, brokers, buyers, expediters, freight forwarders, shippers, etc.
Currently, exports and re-exports are generally prohibited to Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, or to the Unita faction in Angola. In some cases, special licenses are issued for exports of agricultural goods, medicines and medical equipment to countries under U.S. sanction on humanitarian grounds.
Exporters are required to screen all parties involved in an international transaction against the "Prohibited Parties Lists." This is a term used to describe the four lists of entities with which an exporter is prohibited from doing business under most circumstances. Those lists are:
* The Specially Designated Nationals List. SDNs are individuals and entities throughout the world that are barred from receiving U.S. exports as a result of the various sanctions. U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with SDNs.
* In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the federal government created a new category of SDNs called "Specially Designated Global Terrorists" (SDGTs), resulting in a significant expansion of the SDN list.
* The Denied Persons List contains the names of persons who have been issued a denial order by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (B.I.S.) either because they have violated export controls in the past or pose a serious risk of doing so. U.S. exporters are prohibited from dealing with denied parties in transactions involving U.S. items. (Generally speaking, there are no exceptions to the prohibitions concerning denied persons export privileges.)
* The B.I.S. also maintains a Denied Entities List, comprised of foreign end-users engaged in proliferation activities. …