What is ECCN?

ECCN is the abbreviated form of Export Control Classification Number. It consists of alphanumeric characters and is used to classify and identify products or items that may have applications for defense or military purposes. This identification number is derived from the nature and technical specifications of the product and often requires a deep study to understand the product well before attempting classification. It is also worth mentioning here that ECCN should not be confused with the Schedule B number.

Most of the goods that traders export out of the US do not need a export control licence. However, it can be tricky to obtain licences for the goods that do.

One of the first things you need to determine when looking at export control compliance is to identify under which jurisdiction(s) your products fall under. For instance, in the United States of America – if your products have a military application, they are most likely going to fall under the DDTC (Directorate of Defense Trade Controls) jurisdiction instead of the Department of Commerce. In the US, most of the non-military items are classified according to the EAR, which is the short form for Export Administration Regulations. Let us look into the details of classifying items according to the rules set out by the EAR.

You will need to consider the following factors if you want to find out if your products are indeed relevant to authorization from BIS, the Bureau of Industry and Security.

  • The product’s ECCN number
  • Destination of the product
  • Intended end-user of the product
  • Intended use of the product

In this article, we will see how to correctly determine the ECCN of the product. Basically, there are 3 different ways to do it:

  • Self-classifying
  • SNAP-R request
  • Classification from the product vendor

ECCN Self Classification

As is evident from the name, you can carry out an analysis of the product and classify it yourself. However, you will need to be familiar with the CCL (Commerce Control List) to do this.

The Commerce Control List contains ten different categories, and this determines the ECCN’s first digit. The second digit stands for the product group, which is one out of the five product groups every category is divided into. Once you’ve carried out these two steps, you will be provided with a few options for the ECCN. You will then have to match the given numbers with your product and choose one that best describes your product’s technical specifications.

You can also use the CCL index by following these steps:

  • Look for your product in the index.
  • If you do come across an ECCN for your product, check out the details of that ECCN from the Commerce Control List and see if those details describe your product.
  • Make sure that your product’s technical specifications are described under any subheadings that maybe there under the ECCN in the CCL.
  • It is possible that you have to review several potential ECCN numbers for your items before you find the right one.

You can refer to the EAR’s Part 738 for fruther guidance on the CCL usage. Sometimes screening tools provided by the vendor can also be beneficial, as you can look for your item by inputting the initial digits of the ECCN or simply by entering the relevant text into the search bar.

SNAP-R request

Submitting a SNAP-R request is another option. SNAP-R stands for Simplified NetworkApplication Process – Redesign. You can use the SNAP-R online system for submitting your request. However, you will require a CIN (Company Identification Number) to access the system. More details on the process can be found online.

Classification from the product vendor

You can also make use of the product vendor’s own classification of the product. In most cases, the vendor should be able to give you the correct ECCN for your product. However, when you use that ECCN for your own business, its accuracy is your responsibility and not the vendor’s. It is therefore recommended that you carefully check the correctness of the ECCN before accepting it as the right one.

What if I’m still unable to determine the ECCN?

If none of the above methods worked for you, it is quite possible that you have a product that is an EAR99. Such a product can be exported without the need for a license as long as it fulfills the following conditions:

  • Shipping to destinations NOT on the sanctioned destinations list
  • Shipping to individuals or entities that are NOT considered a sanctioned entity or a denied person. The end-user must also NOT be prohibited from the use of that product
  • Shipping for a kind of end-use that does NOT require higher controls

If the product fulfils the above conditions, it can be referred to as EAR99(NLR), with NLR standing for “No Licence Required”.

The classification of your product is the first step in ensuring you are compliant to the rules and regulations of export control and have protected yourself from penalties in the future. When in doubt it is always advisable to seek guidance from an expert or write in to the authorities for advice.


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