Export Control Classification

When exporting goods, companies must ensure they are compliant with any legislation in their country of origin that places restrictions on what items may be shipped.

This can be a highly complex process, as regulations are changing all the time, while certain items that may be freely traded in some circumstances will face controls in others.

To ensure that all laws are being followed, it is therefore essential that all items have the correct export control classification applied to them. This will provide visibility into whether items need extra requirements such as special licenses before they can be traded.

What items will need export control classifications?

Many commercial goods will not require any special classification as they do not appear on the exporting country's controlled items lists. When exporting from the US, for example, these consumer goods are given the classification code EAR99 and typically do not require licenses unless they are being exported to a country subject to sanctions.

For others, however, tighter regulations are in place, with classifications generally falling into two categories - military items and dual use.

Military items

The most obvious items that are likely to be subject to export control are those that have been designed or modified specifically for military use. This typically includes physical goods, software and technology.

Dual use items

Dual use items are among the most complex exports to classify. These cover items that may be used in a purely commercial context, but could also have military applications. These can range from facial recognition software to aircraft engines, so it's important exporters are able to identify which products will fall into this category.

Categories for dual use items

In both the US and the EU, controlled items designated as dual use are split into ten main categories in line with international export control frameworks. These are:

  • Category 0: Nuclear materials, facilities and equipment
  • Category 1: Special materials and related equipment
  • Category 2: Materials processing
  • Category 3: Electronics
  • Category 4: Computers
  • Category 5: Telecommunications (Part 1) and Information security (Part 2)
  • Category 6: Sensors and lasers
  • Category 7: Navigation and avionics
  • Category 8: Marine
  • Category 9: Aerospace and propulsion

Beyond this, each item is also subdivided into one of five sections that specify the type of product. These are:

  • A: Systems, equipment and components
  • B: Test, inspection and production equipment
  • C: Materials
  • D: Software
  • E: Technology

Some of these categorizations can be quite complex. So for example, a computer server that may be used as part of a piece of military communications equipment would fall under category 5, section A. However, other servers may be designated into different categories depending on their intended purpose.

Export control classification systems

While there are internationally-agreed guidelines for export control classifications, each territory will have its own specific legislation governing the classification of exported goods, so it’s essential exporters familiarize themselves with local rules.

In the US

For exports from the US, items will require a five-character alphanumeric code known as an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). To locate this, exporters should refer to the Commerce Control List (CCL) for any and all terms that describe the details of the product, taking care to be as specific as possible.

In the EU

For items shipped from EU countries, there are EU-wide regulations governing export control classification, though specific controls in relation to military items are determined by each member state. Licensing is handled by national authorities, such as BAFA in Germany and SBDU in France.

MIC's software solution for Export Control Classification

Take a look into MIC's Central Classification System (MIC CCS) which offers a cost-effective solution for the determination, assignment and validation of export control classifications according to particular export control commodity lists. Additionally, MIC CCS contains all necessary content in a user-friendly format. Most importantly, the software allows clearly structured control of the entire export control classification process at a global level.

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