An explanation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and how they control the sale of defense items and defense services. This article is part of the U.S. Commercial Service's "A Basic Guide to Exporting".
Last Published: 10/20/2016
The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) control the sale of defense items and defense services. These items and services provide the U.S. with a critical military or intelligence capability. If you produce or sell these items, you need to learn about the ITAR, including potential requirements to register with the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). Details can be found at

Start by finding out whether your item for export (hardware, technical data, and/or defense service) is on the U.S. Munitions List (USML), found in Part 121 of the ITAR. If it is, then explore the ITAR website for complete information on ITAR licensing.

Exporting controlled items that are listed on the USML without obtaining proper licensing has very serious legal consequences.
Export Control Regulations
ProgramOverseeing AgencyScopeExporter ResponsibilityResources
Export Administration Regulations (EAR)US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and SecurityStrictly commercial, dual-use, and less sensitive military commodities, software and technology Check lists of parties of concern on the BIS website.

Determine whether the item is subject to the EAR (ECCN or EAR99).  Apply for license (if needed)
International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)US Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade ControlsDefense articles and defense services (providing critical military or intelligence capability)Check if products are on US Munitions list (USML). 
Determine if a license or other approval is needed.
Economic and Trade SanctionsOffice of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)Sanctions are based on US foreign policy and national security goals; they can apply to foreign countries, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other threats to the US national security, foreign policy, or economyAll US persons, wherever they are located, must comply with OFAC regulations.
OFAC encourages all exporters to maintain a rigorous risk-based compliance program

Both the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and BIS administer and enforce economic and trade sanctions against certain foreign countries, companies, and individuals, based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals. OFAC and BIS maintain lists of persons (natural persons and entities, including corporations) that are subject to trade restrictions, including the export of items that fall within their jurisdictions. Both agencies also maintain trade restrictions on certain countries, including countries that are subject to trade embargoes.

Every exporter must be aware of the individuals and organizations on the lists of parties of concern. You can find the consolidated screening lists from BIS, OFAC, and the U.S. Department of State at

If you need help performing these obligations, you can hire a third-party company to conduct these checks for you in real time. You also can purchase software to help you remain in compliance. Freight forwarders may also flag problematic transactions. Please be aware that as the exporter, you bear primary responsibility for compliance with export controls, and you are responsible for obtaining any required licenses.
In addition to your other due diligence, always remember to check the consolidated screening list.

More Information

Export Regulations