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The U. S. Export Enforcement Program
by Joe Robinson | Format for Print

If you are exporting from the United States, you need to familiarize yourself with and understand the U. S. Bureau of Industry and Security. Known simply as the BIS, their primary mission is the accurate, consistent and timely evaluation and processing of licenses for proposed exports and re-exports of goods and technology from the United States.

The Bureau’s stated objective is to protect U. S. national security, foreign policy, and economic interests without imposing undue regulatory burdens on legitimate international trade. The beginning of their web page states that this is “Where Industry and Security Intersect.”

Whether you are a new exporter or a long-time exporter, I recommend that you visit the BIS website. This site is designed to provide important and necessary information about export procedures and regulatory details that individuals and firms need to know before exporting. This site will also enable you to ascertain if you need an export license and, if needed, assist you in navigating through the export licensing process.

BIS is responsible for the regulation of exports for national security, foreign policy and nonproliferation reasons and the enforcement of those regulations. BIS is also charged with administering and enforcing U. S. Antiboycott laws, the Fastener Quality Act, and the reporting provisions of the Chemicals Weapons Conventions.

A periodic visit to their site is also recommended to stay current about “What’s New” and to be cognizant of changes, additions or modifications to the export regulations and procedures.

In the Licensing section of the BIS website, you will find details and explanations on numerous topics and issues of interest. The first topic, Export Control Basics, is designed to help people who are new to exporting and, in particular, new to export controls. The page provides a basic overview of export regulations and how to use them.

The BIS website states that they “stand ready to help firms comply with its regulations while also maintaining a force of Export Enforcement Special Agents who investigate possible violations.” Be aware that exporting is a privilege, not a right. Compliance with export regulations is not an option—it is the law.

A BIS proactive program worthy of note is the Office of Exporter Services (OExS), especially their Outreach and Educational Services Division. This office is responsible for counseling exporters, conducting export control seminars, and drafting and publishing changes to the Export Administration Regulations. It is also responsible for administering export license applications and commodity classifications. They can be reached by telephone at 202-482-0436.

The BIS website also provides access to the five restricted parties lists all exporters should check before exporting: Denied Persons List, Unverified List, Entity List, Specialty Designated Nationals List, and the Debarred List. In order to follow due diligence in your procedures and comply with U.S. export regulations, exporters should always check these five lists.

Checking these lists can be a bit cumbersome and time consuming because you have to point and click to each list individually. An easier and more comprehensive solution to checking the “bad guy” lists is to use export software that includes an export compliance feature. The most popular export software is Shipping Solutions Professional, a software package that includes 16 lists including all the BIS lists plus Canadian, United Nations, European Union and Japan lists.

In summary, if you have questions about export procedures or about dealing with unknown or questionable parties in your export process, it is a good idea to seek competent counseling. You should also contact the BIS directly to ascertain the correct protocol to follow in order to comply with the regulations.

Remember, we all must do our part in helping to detect and prevent illegal exports of commodities and technology.

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