The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is a set of United States government regulations that controls the export and import of defense-related articles and services on the United States Munitions List (USML). According to the Department of State, the USG “strictly regulates exports and re-exports of defense items and technologies to protect its national interests and those interests in peace and security of the broader international community.”
Under ITAR, all companies that sell, manufacture, or export defense articles are required to register with the USG. Registered companies may then apply for an export license, which grants formal permission to go ahead with a specific defense sale.
Who runs ITAR?
The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), part of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the U.S. Department of State, is responsible for controlling the export of defense articles and services on the United States Munitions List (USML, pdf file).
What does ITAR cover?
ITAR covers all items on the U.S. Munitions List (USML). You can find the full, up-to-date list here (pdf file). Items on the list fall into numerous categories, covering everything from guns to ammunition, missiles and launchers, explosives, ships, aircraft, tanks and vehicles, protective gear, electronics, sights, chemical and biological agents, spacecraft, nuclear weapons, lasers, submarines, and miscellaneous. Pretty all-inclusive.
If you review the list and aren’t sure if your product would qualify, you can file a Commodity Jurisdiction request.
Can you export things on the ITAR list?
First, your company MUST register with DDTC if you sell, manufacture, or export defense articles. This is an essential first step, even if you are just starting to think about exporting. Registering does not grant permission to export, but rather it identifies you as someone eligible to apply for an export license. You must be registered to enter into discussions with potential customers for the export of ITAR restricted items; when you register you also commit to completing annual compliance reports.
You will apply for an export license when you have a specific sale lined up. You’ll need a new export license for every additional sale, since the permits are country-specific. In adjudicating your license, State may ask other USG agencies (like the DOD) to review your request and make a recommendation.
The licensing process is now fully automated through the DTrade online system. Learn more about DTrade here.
That sounds complicated.
A little. Which is why FMS may be a good option for companies just starting out with defense exports. Under FMS, the DOD will handle the process of obtaining an export license for ITAR restricted items.
How can I learn more?
What other questions do you have about ITAR restrictions and defense export licenses?