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HomeInternational TradeDocumentationImport/Export License: Meaning & Definition in International Trade

Import/Export License: Meaning & Definition in International Trade

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What is An Import/Export License? Meaning & Definition

An export/import license is a document issued by government bodies allowing registered companies or individuals to legally ship goods that are otherwise restricted.

Import/Export License are the permissions or licenses required for doing business with companies / organizations which are present in other countries. i.e.to import international goods within your country or the export local goods to international markets, you need import or export license.

What items are restricted?

Restricted items include chemicals, medicines, artwork, historical artefacts and dual-use items. Other less obvious items include video game consoles or goods containing paraffin wax like crayons or candles.

What are dual-use items?

They’re items that can be used for both military and civilian purposes. So while you may think the goods you’re sending have only one use, they could be considered dual-use by government authorities and require an export license. For example drones can be used for both filming movies and in military operations.

How do I find out if I need an export license?

Check if the item has an Export Control Classification Number, better known as ECCN.

What is an ECCN?

It’s a code that classifies an item and indicates the licensing requirements. All ECCNs are listed on the Commerce Control List online, which is available on the US Bureau of Industry and Security’s website.

You can also ask the manufacturer or check your own country’s list on the government website.

How do I apply for an export license?

The application process for an export license varies for each country. But, again, you can find out what you need to do on your country’s government website.

What do I do when I get the export license?

Once you’ve received the export license, you need to include the export license number on the commercial invoice when shipping your goods.

Also check with your carrier if you need to provide the license to the driver or whether it’ll be sent electronically.


Export Compliance Requirements(USA)

The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) set standards and rules that must be met to send goods to a foreign country. It also applies to re-exporting. Re-export is when goods and services are exported to another country and then subsequently exported to other countries. Its the responsibility of the producer to ensure that it complies with these regulations. The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is the branch of US Department of Commerce which is tasked to implement the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The BIS and related authorities require exporters to obtain and export license. Followings are the criteria for license:

  • Product technical description – What commodity is being exporting? Does it comply with EAR?
  • Product destination – Countries where they are sending commodities cannot be blacklisted by US government
  • End use – What is the ultimate use of the product? I cannot be an illegal purpose.
  • End user – Who is end user? They cannot have been blacklisted.

The BIS and EAR does not cover all export items. To determine whether enterprises need any license to export goods and services, following factors must be considered:

More international trade documents:


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