The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is responsible for regulating the export and reexport of most commercial items. The commercial items BIS regulates are referred to as dual-use items that have both commercial and military or proliferation applications. BIS’s export enforcement activities target the most significant threats facing the United States, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery systems, terrorism and state sponsors of terror, and diversions of dual-use technologies to unauthorized military end uses.
BIS has two branches: Export Administration and Export Enforcement.
- Export Administration is responsible for processing export license applications, outreach, and counseling efforts to help ensure exporters’ compliance with the EAR as well as monitoring certain license conditions to determine exporters’ compliance with their conditions.
- Export Enforcement investigates alleged dual-use export control violations and coordinates its enforcement activities with other federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
BIS publishes a list of “Red Flag Indicators” that may indicate a transaction could lead to a violation of the Export Administration Regulations. A seller who finds a red flag is encouraged to report it to the Department of Commerce. Examples of red flags include situations where the item purchased does not fit with the buyer’s line of business, the buyer is willing to pay cash for an expensive item where financing is the norm, or the buyer has little or no business background.