Definition of ITAR

ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) is an United States Control Law and Regulation whose purpose is to control the export and import of defense-related articles and services on the United States Munitions List (USML).  It is administered by the Department of State (Office of Defense Trade Controls).1,2 In other words, ITAR requires a license for the export of military information, technologies, and equipment to some foreign nations, organizations, and citizens and prohibits outright the transfer of such technology to others. In order to export an item that appears on the USML, a company, organization or person must apply to get an ITAR export license from the State Department unless this company, organization or person qualifies for a licensing exemption.9

Figure 1: Elements of  a compliance program14


A simplified definition of an export

"The transfer of anything (product, service, technical data, information, knowledge) to a “FOREIGN PERSON” by any means, anywhere, anytime, or the knowledge that what you are transferring to a “U.S. PERSON”, will be further transferred to a “FOREIGN PERSON”.1


Why it is important to control some exports?

The following extract from the paper "Balancing the Needs for Space Research and National Security in the ITAR"9 summarizes really well why it is important to control some exports: "Given the synergies between commercial and civil space activities, and military and intelligence space activities,space research institutions are rich targets where foreign nations may acquire critical U.S. scientific knowledge,hardware designs, and technical skills. Furthermore, by monitoring the status of U.S. progress in various spacesystem technologies, foreign nations are better able to allocate resources to counter U.S. space capabilities."  The presentation below recovers these and other  reasons supporting export-control regulations in a easy-to-memorize fashion:


What is an export compliance program?

If a company works in a field which is subjected to ITAR compliance, it must adopt some strategy to avoid ITAR violations. This strategy must be well planned and it must be formalized in a set of documents and practices that may be called an ITAR (or export) compliance program”.

The ideal situation is one in which these practices become part of the company commercial’s culture over time. Therefore, the adoption of an ITAR compliance program “involves the implementation of a formal company-wide management program for following ITAR requirements.  This includes: (i) the appointment of a company employee to be in charge of ITAR compliance; (ii) establishing written policies and procedures for employees to follow in performing activities that are subject to ITAR; (iii) conducting training for key employees; (iv) adopting company procedures for the receipt, handling, storing and shipping of ITAR-controlled items; (v) adopting a procedure for dealing with foreign nationals; (vi) adopting an auditing procedure; and (vii) adopting a procedure for actions to be taken if a violation is discovered.5 

It is easy to realize that it is essential to review carefully all the company’s contracts prior to planning an ITAR compliance program.