ITAR 101: ITAR Exemptions

Exporting Without a License?

ITAR exemptions allow certain defense-related articles and services to be exported or imported without the need for a license. These exemptions are granted on a case-by-case basis and are typically granted to companies that meet certain criteria, such as having a proven track record of compliance with ITAR regulations.


ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) is a set of regulations that govern the export and import of defense-related articles and services. These regulations are enforced by the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). 


There are several types of ITAR exemptions, including:
  1. Temporary Importation of Defense Articles: This exemption allows companies to temporarily import defense articles for repair, maintenance, or exhibition purposes without the need for a license. This is useful for companies that need to repair or maintain defense articles that are used in the United States, but are owned by foreign customers.
  2. Technical Data Exemption: This exemption allows companies to share technical data with foreign persons without the need for a license, as long as the data is not related to the development, production, or use of defense articles. This is useful for companies that need to collaborate with foreign partners on non-defense related projects, or that need to share technical information with foreign customers for maintenance or repair purposes.
  3. Public Domain Exemption: This exemption allows companies to export defense articles or services that are already in the public domain, such as information that is available to the general public or information that has been published and is generally accessible or available to the public.
Three Ways Exemptions Benefit Exporters
  • Streamline processes: They allow companies to streamline their export process by eliminating the need to apply for individual licenses for each export transaction. This can save time and resources, which can be especially beneficial for small or medium-sized businesses.
  • Avoid potential delays or denials of their export licenses: While ITAR regulations are in place to ensure that defense-related articles and services are not exported to countries or organizations that may use them for nefarious purposes, the process of applying for licenses can be complex and time-consuming. By obtaining an exemption, companies can avoid the risk of their export license being denied or delayed due to administrative issues or other unforeseen circumstances.
  • Foster international collaboration and partnerships: By allowing companies to share technical data or collaborate on non-defense related projects without the need for a license, exemptions can help to facilitate international cooperation and help businesses to tap into new markets and opportunities.

*Correctly* using ITAR exemptions can benefit exporters, but the devil is always in the details. Empowered officials should be confident that their knowledge is up to date and that they are appropriately using exemptions. For additional training, consider resources like the Society for International Affiars ITAR Exemptions Handbook or Dunlap-Stone University’s TRD-308 Mastering ITAR Exemptions six-week online course.