Export Control for Small Business | Up and to the Right | Episode 028

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Show Notes

At Beyond 50 Percent we currently do geographically narrow sales and marketing and no export occurs. At my pulsed power company, Directed Energy, it's a different story. Our products are classified as EAR99 which generally means that no license is required for export. Due to the nature of our products and the variety of potential research, scientific, commercial and yes... defense applications for which they may be used we have to take specific steps when exporting our products.

  • Does export control apply to small business?
  • What are some key concepts you need to be aware of?
  • Are there... let's say... 3 things you could do to get yourself on the road to compliance?

Let's find out!

For more detailed information listen to the audio version of the podcast or watch the livestream recording.

When is Export Control Relevant to Small Business?

In short... always!

Unlike other business regulations you might be familiar with, export control doesn't have any limits that exclude small business owners from participating. All businesses are required to comply with export regulations.

Tangible goods, intangible goods and 'deemed' exports such as emailed information or documents can all be subject to export control - even for small businesses.

Getting Familiar with Export Control

It's important to understand the basics of export control for small business and the federal government does provide resources for you to become familiar with export in general.

I'm not gonna lie... export control can feel complicated and... let's be honest... boring!

It also happens to be something you really need to dig into if you're going to sell or distribute outside the country.

Some good places to start...

The Bureau of Industry & Security (US Department of Commerce)

This page will provide you general information to familiarize yourself with export control in the US.


Trade.gov (also part of the US Department of Commerce)

This link provides direct access to ECCN, Licensing and Destination Control.


Know Thyself (and your product's export classification codes)

The first step to assuring your business is in compliance is understanding where you fit in the Commerce Control List which will help you determine the export classification for your products.


Know Your Customers

Even if your products fall under EAR99/No License Required you may still have restrictions regarding whom (person or company) or where you can sell your products.

The Consolidated Screening List will help you look up foreign parties to ensure it's legal for you to do business with them. I think of this as the business equivalent of Santa's 'naughty list'.


End Use Disclosure

Now we need to make sure that your product won't be used for prohibited activities such as nuclear, biological and other weapons related systems. You may need to require your customers to disclose the end use and destination country prior to shipment.

We use a self generated form that includes questions and signatures appropriate for our business and products. You may need to consult an export control specialist if you need to create a similar form for your own situation.

More information about end use disclosure can be found at the links below.



Suggested Action

This is a serious project so take your time and document it thoroughly. This is one you are not going to want to do over and over again because you 'lost your place'. Another tip here: of all the places to ask for help this may be one of the most important (legal, accounting and export are my top three 'get the help you need' categories) - if you're not sure - find an export professional to help!

  1. Are you an exporter? Be sure you know the answer and continue.
  2. Figure out the ECCN code for your products using the resources shown above.
  3. Put the link for the Consolidated Screening List in your browser and use it when you're exporting your products.
  4. Determine if you need to develop and use some kind of end use and/or destination country disclosure form.


Does export control impact your small business? Drop a comment below and share a tip on how you've managed this complex but critical topic!

Click the link above or use your favorite pod catcher to listen to the full episode.

In the interests of actually producing the podcast and getting it out regularly I've dumped the intro videos. Is that a mistake? Let me know at [email protected]!

Thanks for watching or listening!

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