ear compliance

EAR Compliance: What Is It And How Is It Different Than ITAR?

At the end of 2022, the U.S. manufacturing growth outpaced the rest of the world. As American domestic manufacturing increases, export trade compliance will become evermore important. This includes Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and its compliance standards.  

We’re here to cover everything you need to know about EAR compliance, standards, and protocols so you have the knowledge to ensure you’ve met and maintain the necessary compliance requirements within your organization. 

What Is EAR Compliance?

EAR compliance refers to protocols that enable a business to comply with the Export Administration Regulations. EAR broadly governs and imposes controls on the export and re-export of most commercial goods, software, and technology, including “dual-use” items that can be used for commercial and military purposes and certain defense items.

The protocol for maintaining EAR compliance is rigid and depends entirely on what works best for your organization. 

Jump down to our complete EAR Compliance Checklist

Who needs to be EAR compliant? 

EAR applies to any company that manufactures, exports, or brokers dual-use items that have both commercial and military applications, as well as items that are purely for commercial use. Companies are subject to EAR regulation if their goods or products fall under the Commerce Control List (CCL).

The CCL is divided into 10 categories:

  • Nuclear and miscellaneous
  • Materials, chemicals, microorganisms, and toxins
  • Materials processing
  • Electronics design, development, and production
  • Computers
  • Telecommunications
  • Information security
  • Sensors and lasers
  • Navigation and avionics
  • Marine
  • Aerospace and propulsion

And no, your math isn’t wrong; Telecommunications and Information Security are considered one category due to their interconnectedness and shared importance in national security and technology control.

Each category is further divided into five product groups:

  • End Items, Equipment, Accessories, Attachments, Parts, Components, and Systems
  • Test, Inspection and Production Equipment
  • Materials
  • Software
  • Technology

What specific items might fall under these groupings? EAR pertains to many types of military hardware and materials, including:

  • Munitions
  • Firearms
  • Aircraft
  • Military vehicles
  • Materials
  • Chemicals

Assigning the ECCN

Once you determine the category and product group that classifies your organization’s goods, you have to assign each an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). This is important because it determines your product’s description along with the appropriate licensing requirement(s).

There are three ways to classify an item and identify its ECCN:

  • Manually reviewing the CCL: To do this, you’ll first determine the applicable category. From there, you’ll determine the product group. Finally, check if the item falls within the scope of a specific ECCN in that group.
  • Ask your supplier: Check with the product’s producer, developer, or manufacturer and confirm they agree with the classification
  • Submit a formal request: Submitting a formal commodity classification request to BIS via the SNAP-R system. See the BIS Classification Request Guidelines.

If not ECCN, then EAR99

If your item falls under U.S. Department of Commerce jurisdiction and is not listed on the CCL, it is designated as EAR99. EAR99 classified items are still subject to the EAR standards but do not have a specific ECCN and have fewer or no licensing requirements. Generally, these are low-technology consumer goods.

If you have EAR99 classified items, you still need to determine if you are subject to licensing requirements based on restrictions cited in the Control Policy or listed in the Consolidated Screening List (CSL).

What are the penalties for failing to uphold EAR compliance?

The U.S. Department of Commerce enforces the EAR compliance through the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). These Export Control Laws are no laughing matter. 

You can be subject to both criminal and/or administrative penalties if you fail to meet EAR compliance. Criminal penalties can land you in prison for up to 20 years plus up to $1 million in fines per violation. Administrative monetary penalties can reach up to $300,000 per violation. 

So, it’s worth your time and money to be prepared! 

ITAR and EAR Compliance: How They’re Similar and How They Differ. 

Many times, EAR compliance and ITAR compliance go hand in hand. Both have the same objective, but there are notable differences that are laid out below. 

itar and ear

What You Need To Do To Prevent Compliance From Falling Through The Cracks

In March 2023, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco iterated how the Department of Justice is “ramping up enforcement” of export controls and sanctions. Said another way, upholding EAR compliance is more important than ever. Here are some steps to take to ensure you and your organization are consistently operating within these compliance standards:

  • Export Compliance Program
  • Implement the right tools
  • Understand common mistakes

Export Compliance Program

Establishing an Export Compliance Program (ECP) sets the framework for your organization to maintain EAR compliance. The BIS has compiled guidelines to an effective compliance program. 

Here is a high-level overview of the elements of an effective ECP as laid out in the guidelines: 

  1. Management commitment: Top-level management demonstrates their commitment to export compliance by establishing clear policies, dedicating necessary resources, and appointing a compliance officer or team responsible for overseeing export activities.
  2. Risk assessment: Conducting a thorough risk assessment helps identify potential vulnerabilities and areas of non-compliance within export operations. This involves evaluating the organization’s export activities, customers, products, technology, and countries of destination to determine the level of risk associated with each.
  3. Export authorization: Organizations must determine whether their exports require an export license or fall under license exceptions. Proper procedures should be in place to ensure compliance with the EAR and other relevant export control regulations. More detail on this can be found towards the beginning of this article. 
  4. Recordkeeping: Accurate and complete recordkeeping is essential for demonstrating compliance with export control regulations. Organizations should maintain records of export transactions, including shipping documents, export licenses, classification determinations, and any other relevant documentation as stated in Part 762 of the EAR
  5. Training: Employees involved in export activities should receive comprehensive training on export control regulations, including the EAR. Training programs should be regularly updated to keep employees informed about changes in regulations and company policies.
  6. Audits: Regular internal audits should be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the export compliance program. These audits help identify areas of improvement, ensure compliance with policies and procedures, and address any non-compliance issues.
  7. Handling export violations and taking corrective actions: Procedures should be in place to handle and investigate potential export violations or instances of non-compliance. When violations occur, appropriate corrective actions should be taken to prevent future non-compliance and ensure continuous improvement. 
  8. Build and maintain your ECP: Finally, continue to build and maintain an effective Export Compliance Program (ECP). Organizations should continuously monitor and update their ECP to address emerging risks and challenges, stay informed about changes in export control regulations, and adapt policies and procedures accordingly.

Implement the right tools 

To maintain compliance with the EAR, companies can and should utilize a range of tools and technologies. Here are some commonly used solutions:

Visitor Management Systems (VMS): Having a sophisticated protocol for managing visitors allows companies to screen and track everyone who enters the facility while keeping diligent records. This is relevant for maintaining EAR compliance so as to guarantee that sensitive goods, technologies, and/or information from the United States are not accessible to unauthorized end-users. 

Learn more about visitor management systems and the features you can use to help support ITAR compliance by joining a product tour of The Receptionist below!

12-Minute Product Tour
Hosted by  Andy Alsop, Tom Foster
Want to see The Receptionist for iPad in action? Let our team guide you through some of the most popular features and functionality The Receptionist for iPad has to offer in this interactive product tour.

Export Control Classification Tools (CCT): These tools help companies determine the correct Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) for their products. CCTs assist in classifying items under the Commerce Control List (CCL) and identifying any applicable licensing requirements.

Restricted Party Screening (RPS) Software: RPS software enables companies to screen individuals, organizations, and entities against various restricted party lists, such as the Entity List, Denied Persons List, and Unverified List. This helps identify potential risks associated with engaging in transactions with prohibited or restricted parties.

Global Trade Management (GTM) Systems: GTM software solutions offer end-to-end visibility and control over export processes. They assist with import/export compliance, regulatory adherence, documentation management, trade data analytics, and supply chain visibility.

Electronic Export Information (EEI) Filing Tools: Companies exporting goods valued over a certain threshold may be required to submit Electronic Export Information through the Automated Export System (AES). EEI filing tools automate and simplify this process, ensuring accurate and compliant reporting to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Encryption and Data Security Tools: Companies dealing with controlled technologies – particularly encryption items – may require encryption and data security tools to protect sensitive data during transmission and storage while adhering to encryption export controls.

Compliance Training and E-Learning Tools: Software and e-learning platforms enable companies to provide comprehensive training on export compliance regulations to employees. These tools often include interactive modules, assessments, and progress tracking to ensure employees are well-informed and up-to-date.

There are also programs that incorporate several of these different technologies into a comprehensive platform: 

Compliance Management Systems: Compliance management software is a comprehensive, centralized platform for managing export compliance activities. This includes features such as:

  • Policy and procedure management 
  • Recordkeeping and document management
  • Risk assessment
  • Audit management
  • Training modules

Trade Compliance Automation Platforms: These platforms streamline and automate various aspects of trade compliance. They are designed to handle complex trade compliance processes and provide end-to-end solutions for managing regulatory compliance in international trade. This may sound similar to Compliance Management Systems. While there is overlap in functionality, Trade Compliance Automation platforms are tailored specifically to trade compliance processes while Compliance Management systems provide a broader framework for managing compliance efforts across various regulatory domains. Common features include:

  • Classification and licensing
  • Restricted party screening
  • Regulatory updates and alerts
  • Global trade data management
  • Compliance reporting and audit trailing

It’s important to note that the specific tools and technologies required may vary depending on the company’s size, industry, and export activities. Companies should assess their specific compliance needs and consult with experts to determine the most suitable tools and technologies for their EAR compliance efforts.

Understand common mistakes

Since EAR guidelines and compliance can be so ambiguous, there are potential mistakes waiting to happen. Below are the most common mistakes to look out for: 

  1. Not monitoring your recipients: It’s your company’s duty to ensure your exports are not diverted for an inappropriate end-user, end-use, or destination. See the BIS’ Know Your Customer Guidance and Red Flag Indicators to make sure you are avoiding any risk of diversion. 
  2. Overreliance on third parties: Companies sometimes assume that relying solely on third-party service providers, such as freight forwarders or consultants, absolves them of compliance responsibility. However, companies remain ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance and must have appropriate oversight of third-party activities.
  3. Failure to keep diligent records: Proper recordkeeping is a must. Everything you need to know – from what documents to retain to how long you need to keep them – can be found in Part 762 of EAR.
  4. Inadequate classification: Assigning the appropriate ECCN is a big component of EAR. So, misclassification can lead to incorrect licensing determinations and potential violations of export controls.

EAR Compliance Checklist

  • Determine Jurisdiction: Identify whether EAR applies to your organization and your product is listed on the Commerce Control List (CCL). 
  • Review EAR: Familiarize yourself with the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and ensure others in your organization have access to that knowledge through training programs or instruction manuals. 
  • Assign ECCN: Determine the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) of all applicable products and goods. If no ECCN applies, classification becomes EAR99. 
  • Assess Licensing Requirements: Assess whether an export license is required based on the reasons for the item’s control and the ultimate country of destination. This is done by comparing the reasons for control specified in the item’s ECCN against the Commerce Country Chart.
    • If you have a EAR99 classification, ensure there are no licensing exceptions or restrictions. 
  • Apply For License: If a license is required, your company must obtain a Company Identification Number (CIN) from the BIS and file a license application through the BIS’s online Simplified Network Application Process Redesign (SNAP-R) system.
  • Monitor For Red Flags: Verify no transaction is diverted for an inappropriate end-user, end-use, or destination.
  • Recordkeeping System: Have a system in place to store and maintain all relevant documents and records. Review Part 762 of EAR for information on how long to keep records, what records to keep, how to reproduce documents, and which documents are exempt from retention.
  • Export Compliance Program: Review the BIS Export Compliance Guidelines to create the Export Compliance Program that works best for your organization.


If you still have questions about how you can keep your organization EAR-compliant when it comes to your guests, reach out to one of our visitor management experts to learn more.

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