The U.S. Government views the sale, export, and re-transfer of defense articles and defense services as an integral part of safeguarding U.S. national security and furthering U.S. foreign policy objectives. The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) is charged with controlling the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the United States Munitions List (USML).
Last Published: 10/21/2016

Defense Trade Export Controls and Licenses


By law, all U.S. manufacturers, exporters, and brokers of commodities covered by the U.S. Munitions List must register with the Department of State.

Defense Trade Controls - Applying for a License
Generally, any person or company who intends to export a defense article, technical data, provide defense services or engage in brokering must obtain the approval from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) prior to the export.  You can submit and apply via the website for certain of the preceding authorizations.

Defense Trade Information Center
The Defense Trade Information Center provides the Electronic Licensing System to U.S. persons who seek to export defense articles or defense services regulated by the ITAR.

To ensure compliance with U.S. export law and regulations, the DDTC strongly advises that registered exporters and manufacturers have in place programs that assist in monitoring defense trade activities. These programs should include a manual that articulates the company's policy on and commitment to compliance with defense trade laws and regulations, and that outlines the procedures for dealing with licensing and compliance matters. Such a manual should also include the identification and duties of empowered and responsible persons, and procedures on record keeping and internal auditing.

Commodity Jurisdiction
An exporter should request a “commodity jurisdiction” (CJ) determination to resolve any uncertainty regarding the export licensing jurisdiction of an item or service. A CJ is used to determine whether an item or service is subject to the export licensing authority of BIS or DTC.

Response Team
The DDTC Response Team provides responses to the full range of defense trade inquiries, and can significantly facilitate your defense trade solutions while affording licensing and other officers in DDTC more time for casework. By handling telephone calls from industry and the public, it supports the work of licensing and compliance officers by allowing them to focus on their core activities.

Section 655 Annual Military Assistance Reports are provided to Congress and show for a fiscal year the aggregate dollar value and quantity of defense articles and defense services authorized as direct commercial sales to each foreign country. Note that these reports do not cover defense articles and services that are provided via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

To contact the DDTC and for assistance in helping companies comply with U.S. export law and regulations, contact The DDTC Response Team.

Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

Licensing Export Controls