The Importance of Paying Attention to Export Control

Posted on December 11, 2018

In March of 2018 Konstantin Chekhovskoi was arrested at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on his way home to Russia and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. In his checked baggage were more than $100,000 in ammunition, parts, and accessories designed for assault rifles. Mr. Chekhovskoi had not received the appropriate clearance and export licenses to take these items out of the United States.

Konstantin may have had some intentions of questionable legality for his exported products, but plenty of law-abiding citizens can find themselves facing similar penalties if they are not aware of the export regulations of the US. To ensure that you don’t end up in the same situation as Konstantin, these are the steps that you must follow:

Check to see if your item is on the ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) US Munitions List. This is a list that is broken up into 20 categories that cover all manner of military equipment. If your item can be categorized here, it should not accompany your checked baggage at the airport.

Next, check to see if your item is on the EAR (Export Administration Act) Commerce Control List. This is a list that is broken into 10 parts with categories like “Material, Chemicals, Microorganisms, Toxins” and “Navigation and Avionics.” These are items that could possibly be used in a military application, but are not necessarily solely designed for military use. If a good falls on one of these lists, although it does not visibly appear as something dangerous, you may be tempted to simply pack it with your other belongings and board your flight. This would be called “smuggling” and is strongly discouraged; if your good is on the list, you need to go through the proper channels.

The next logical question is, “What do I do if I find that I need to export something that is on one of these lists?”  Well, the reason these lists exist is to prevent potentially dangerous persons outside of the United States from getting their hands on technology or equipment that could cause harm. If you are exporting something that is export-controlled, the US government wants to make sure it is going to a legitimate party and for some of these situations you will need an additional license that is granted from CBP (Customs and Border Protection) for your goods to leave the country.

However, your responsibility as the exporter does not stop there.  You are ultimately responsible for how that product is used after it has left the country. Therefore if you knowingly or otherwise legally ship export-controlled products to a third party and that third party then sells the equipment to a violent buyer, you can be held responsible as the original exporter. Exporting can get very complex and there are numerous situations where an exporter can get into trouble, so it is always best to contact a Customs Broker or Trade Compliance professional before sending anything that may be risky.

Contributor: Ryan Smith

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