Size Doesn’t Matter – All Companies can benefit from an Exporter Checklist

Are you a small business that only ships products internationally once in a while?  Are you a large corporation that exports regularly?  Do you fall somewhere in between?  For our purposes today, it doesn’t really matter.  Anyone that ships to destinations outside the U.S. can use some kind of exporter checklist to protect themselves and their business from liability including fines, penalties, and even jail time.  Here’s an example of a basic exporter’s checklist that can help ensure you have the necessary information to be in compliance with the U.S. government’s various export controls.

Are you using the Department of Commerce’s Red Flags as guidance?  If you encounter a red flag, be sure to perform the appropriate due diligence.

Do you know the final end-user, end-use, and destination of your product?

Does your transaction require an export license?

  1.  Are you exporting a commercial good?  If so, have you classified your product on the Commerce control list and cross-referenced your product with the destination country on the Commerce Country Chart?
  2.  Is your product a defense service or article or listed on the State Department’s U.S. Munitions List?
  3. Does the product’s end-use require a license?
  4. Are you exporting to an embargoed or sanctioned country?
  5. Are the purchasers or end-users found on any government restricted parties lists?

Do you have all the appropriate export documentation?

Do you have a statement included on your invoices to prevent transshipments and diversions to prohibited or unknown destinations?

Do you keep your records for at least 5 years after the date of export?

Is your transaction compliant with antiboycott regulations and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)?

Do you have an adequate export compliance program that protects your company?  Does it include the following key aspects:

  1. Written manual available to staff when needed
  2. Upper management “buy in” creating a culture of compliance from the top down
  3. Appropriate training for all relevant staff
  4. Proper allocation of responsibilities among different parties
  5. Full integration into your day to day business activities
  6. Consistent program reviews and updates

The essence of this checklist is that the more you know about your export transactions, the better!  Remember, information protects you and your business.