Do I Need an Export License?

Do I Need an Export License?
by Selma Canas | November 11, 2017

This is the question most often asked by export clients who come in to see me. Even though the majority of products being exported by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not need a license, the answer will always be…maybe.

Actually, there is not an easy yes or no answer to any export-related question. It will depend on how the following four questions are answered:  what, who, where and end-use?

  1. What are you exporting?

If the product can be used in a military application such as computers, chemicals, and electronics, it is a controlled product and may require a license to export. If the product is used in commercial applications only, then it probably will not require a license.

However, depending on the who, where and end-use…you might need an export license.

  1. Who are you exporting to?

If the person or entity receiving or handling the product appears in one of the denied party lists, then the product may require a license to export. There are approximately 11 lists containing the names of persons and companies that U.S. exporters are not allowed to do business with due to some violation of U.S. export regulations. The good news is that there is a consolidated screening list and it should be checked prior to engaging in export activities.

  1. Where are you exporting to?

If the product is being exported to a country sanctioned by the U.S., then you may require a license to export. Common countries on this list include North Korea, Syria, and Libya. Other countries with lesser sanctions include Iraq, Cuba, and Venezuela. You should always check the full list to be sure.

  1. What is the end-use/end-user of the product?

If the product will be used as it is intended, it may not require a license. However, if the product will be re-exported to another country or used in a military application, it may require a license.

As you can see, there are many ifs when exporting but there are also many resources to guide you. Export.gov and the Bureau of Industry and Security contain a wealth of information on this topic and the Florida SBDC at USF international trade specialists, located throughout the state of Florida, can help in your exporting endeavors.

  • Selma Canas

    SBDCSBDCNASBITE Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP), Florida SBDC at USF, Tampa

    Specialties: International Trade, Export Marketing Plans

    Selma Canas is responsible for guiding small businesses through the complexities of developing export marketing and international expansion plans and teaching seminars on basic international trade and a bi-annual Florida Export Series. Canas has more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer service in a variety of industries, including freight forwarding, real estate and advertising. As a co-owner of Restaurant Guide USA, she increased sales and distribution points and tripled the size of the distributed product. As a real estate broker-owner, Canas carved a niche in the Latin American community and had a career sales volume of more than $37 million. Canas earned her bachelor’s in economics from the University of South Florida. She is a NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional and holds an Export and Trade Counseling Certification from the U.S. Small Business Association. She is a member of Toastmasters international and is fluent in Spanish and Portugese.

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