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What are ECCNs? - Basics about Export Control Classification Numbers

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) under the U.S. Department of Commerce regulates export transactions of all goods that fall under the jurisdiction of Federal Regulation Title 15 - Commerce and Foreign Trade (15 CFR). Most items regulated by BIS require no license but those that do can be found on the Commerce Control List (CCL) and are classified by an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN).

Parts of an ECCN

Categories - The first number in an ECCN is the category. The category is a broad classification for the type of good being regulated. The categories range from zero to nine and include general classifications such as computers, electronics and marine.

Product - The letter proceeding the first number is the product group. Within a given category the actual product may be a product, material, software, technology or any of the five product groups.

Type of Control - The last three digits in an ECCN signify the type of control and correlate with the specific good to be exported. Once an exporter determines the category and product of their goods, they must then look through the types of controls to determine which one is the most applicable.

Reason for Control and Exceptions

Under the description of each ECCN there may be a a two letter code that signifies the reason for control. These two letter codes are used alongside the Commerce Country Chart to signal to an exporter whether a special license is needed to conduct an otherwise prohibited export transaction.

Alongside the reason for control there may be at least one of seventeen exceptions listed under an ECCN. Typically the ECCN will list whether an ECCN is not applicable to that particular good. These exceptions may be used to exclude an export from needing a special license depending on the particular exception being used and the destined country.

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