International Traffic in ARMS Regulations: Are You ITAR Compliant?

American Flags do not need ITAR compliance
••• Photo Credit: Tom Jensen

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is a set of U.S. Government regulations that requires all manufacturers, exporters, and brokers of defense articles, defense services, or related technical data to be ITAR compliant. If your company falls under these categories, the following information will help answer some of your questions as to whether you need to become ITAR compliant and how to go about it.

The first thing you should do to determine whether you need to become ITAR compliant is to check the U.S. Department of State's information on Getting Started with Defense Trade. The site provides a quick action checklist to determine if export controls apply to you and the application process. Here are a few of the points covered:

  • Does the defense export controls apply to me
  • The rationale for regulating defense exports
  • The offices that administer the Defense Export Regulations
  • Authority for Control of Arms Exports
  • U.S. Government Regulatory measures

As discussed elsewhere, before you can export, you must know what you are exporting and if it is covered in the U.S. Munitions List (USML), found in Part 121 of the ITAR. On the USML, you will find more than 10 different categories. A few of these categories include:

Category I: Firearms, Close Assault Weapons, and Combat Shotguns - This includes a variety of non-automatic and semi-automatic firearms.

Category II: Guns and Armament - These include guns over caliber .50 and flamethrowers specifically designed or modified for military application.

Category III: Ammunition/Ordnance - This includes components, parts, accessories, attachments, and associated equipment specifically designed or modified for the article in this category, including, but not limited to, cartridge cases, power bags or other propellant charges, bullets, jackets, cores, shells (excluding shotgun shells) and other detonating devices for the defense articles controlled in this category.

Category IV: Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs, and Mines - This involves launch vehicles, and missile and anti-missile systems including, but not limited to guided, tactical, and strategic missiles, launchers, and systems.

Category V: Explosives and Energetic Materials, Propellants, Incendiary Agents and Their Constituents - This includes explosives and chemical mixtures.

This list isn't exhaustive so you need to review the USML yourself to determine if your product is included.

If your products are among those included in the USML, the next step is to review registration in Part 122: Registration of Manufacturers and Exporters, including the requirements outlined in 122.1, submitting a registration statement to register (122.2) and paying the registration fee (122.3). This is typically a precondition to the issuance of any license or other approval measures. Here’s some clarification as to what each of these means:

  1. Registration: Any person who engages in the United States in the business of either manufacturing or exporting defense articles or furnishing defense services is required to register with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls. According to the U.S. State Department, registration is primarily a means to provide the U.S. government with necessary information on who is involved in certain manufacturing, exporting, and brokering activities. Registration does not confer any export rights or privileges but instead is a precondition for the issuance of any license or other approval for export. The period of validity for new and renewal registrations is 12 months from the date of issuance.
  2. Fees: The set fee for new registrants is $2,250 (manufacturers/exporters and brokers). However, persons registering as a manufacturer/exporter may also simultaneously register as a broker with a consolidated DS-2032 Statement of Registration and not be charged a separate broker registration fee. Do it right the first time on your registration. Registration fees are nonrefundable. 

For guidance, review the frequently asked questions (FAQs). Still stuck? Direct your general questions to the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) Response Team at 202-663-1282 or by email at