6 Red Flags You May Be Overlooking in Your Export License Application

David Noah | October 7, 2016 | Export Compliance
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6 Red Flags You May Be Overlooking in Your Export License Application | Shipping SolutionsSo, you’ve determined your goods need an export license? Good! That’s a great first step toward compliance—but you’ve still got some work to do. It’s time to submit an application for a license through the online Simplified Network Application Process Redesign (SNAP-R).

As you complete your application, keep an eye out for these six red flags, which could delay your export license or even subject you to penalties, fines and civil or criminal prosecution.

1. Hand Writing Your Application

This one’s pretty basic, but happens more frequently than you’d think. Handwritten applications used to be permitted, but they’re no longer accepted. Your handwritten application will be discarded (and all of your work will be wasted).


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2. Providing Inadequate Descriptions

If you respond inadequately to the Basic Requirements section of the application, which calls for a description of the item or items to be exported, your application may be delayed or declined. To avoid the hassle follow these tips:
  • Be specific about the character of the export.
  • Include details related to the recipient foreign nation.
  • State specifically the end user [name or company name] that's receiving the exported good.
  • Describe the intended end use of the exported merchandise.

There’s rarely too much information included in an application, but vague answers or entering "unknown" can delay your application.

3. Not Including Supporting Documentation

Part 748 of the EAR details the requirements for submitting a license application, including any required support paperwork. These are typically technical brochures and specifications, and they can be attached directly as a PDF to the work item in SNAP-R.

4. Not Reviewing Your Application

The devil’s in the details—and so are fines and penalties. Save yourself headache and frustration by carefully double-checking your application before you submit it. Specifically, make sure you’ve correctly entered all of the information required in Section II and that your letter of explanation is thorough.

5. Re-entering the Same Information in Routine Application Submissions

This won’t necessarily cost you in penalties, but it will cost you time. Furthermore, if you enter the same information over and over, you’re increasing your exposure to errors. You can nix redundancy and make back time by following the information provided on the SNAP-R Frequently Asked Questions web page.

6. Failing to Sign the Application

This is a basic—and a biggie. Don’t forget to include your signature in the application (surprisingly, this is one of the most common errors in the application form). Your application will be nullified without it!

If you get stuck, you can contact a BIS export counselor online or over the phone at (202) 482-4811 in Washington, D.C., or (949) 660-0144 on the West Coast. The BIS also hosts informational seminars in various cities across the nation.

In addition to maintaining compliance with U.S. export licensing requirements, you should continually consult the EAR for the most up-to-date information about U.S. export controls and other export licensing requirements—they can and do change!


This article was first published in June 2014 and has been updated to include current information, links and formatting.

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