U.S. Department of State regulations

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

Regulatory authority and scope

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (22 CFR 120-130) regulate the export and import of defense articles, defense services, and related technical data. The ITAR are administered by the Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC)."Defense" means that the government has determined the article, service, or data to be inherently military in nature.

The list of ITAR-controlled items is published at 22 CFR 121 (the U.S. Munitions List or USML). The USML covers 21 classes of defense articles:

  • I Firearms, Close Assault Weapons and Combat Shotguns
  • II Guns and Armament
  • III Ammunition / Ordnance
  • IV Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs and Mines
  • V Explosives, Propellants, Incendiary Agents, and their Constituents
  • VI Vessels of War and Special Naval Equipment
  • VII Tanks and Military Vehicles
  • VIII Aircraft and Associated Equipment
  • IX Military Training Equipment
  • X Protective Personnel Equipment
  • XI Military Electronics
  • XII Fire Control, Range Finder, Optical and Guidance and Control Equipment
  • XIII Auxiliary Military Equipment
  • XIV Toxicological Agents and Equipment and Radiological Equipment
  • XV Spacecraft Systems and Associated Equipment
  • XVI Nuclear Weapons, Design and Testing Related Items
  • XVII Classified Articles, Technical Data and Defense Services Not Otherwise Enumerated
  • XVIII Directed Energy Weapons
  • XIX [Reserved]
  • XX Submersible Vessels, Oceanographic and Associated Equipment
  • XXI Miscellaneous Articles

In addition to the defense article or related technical data, constituent parts and components of the defense article are controlled under the ITAR. If a commodity contains a part or component that is controlled under the ITAR, such as a controlled inertial navigation system, then the whole commodity is also controlled under the ITAR, regardless of whether or not that commodity has an inherent military purpose.

Many items designed for military use are also used for research completely unrelated to military use. For example, night vision goggles, which are controlled under the ITAR, may be used for research with no military applications. It is important to understand that the ITAR designation is unrelated to the use of the controlled item.

Unless a specific exclusion or exemption applies, licenses are required for the export of ITAR-controlled articles, technical data, and services.

Important ITAR definitions

In order to understand the requirements of the ITAR, it is important to understand terminology specific to the regulations, such as "defense article," "technical data," and "defense service." Additional important terms include ITAR's definition of information in the "public domain," and "export."

Defense article is defined in 22 CFR 120.6. It means any item or technical data that is specifically designed, developed, configured, adapted, or modified for a controlled use listed on the USML. In addition to the items on the USML, models or other items that reveal technical data related to USML items are also considered to be defense articles. Defense articles do not include basic marketing information on function or purpose or general system descriptions.

Technical data is defined in 22 CFR 120.10. Technical data includes information required for the design, development, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, repair, testing, maintenance or modification of defense articles. This information includes blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, instructions and documentations. ITAR technical data also includes classified information relating to defense articles and defense services, information covered by an invention secrecy order, and software directly related to defense articles.

Defense service is defined in 22 CFR 120.9. The definition includes furnishing of assistance, including training, to a foreign person, whether in the U.S. or abroad, in the design, development, engineering, manufacture, production, assembly, testing, repair, maintenance, modification, operation, demilitarization, destruction, processing, or use of defense articles. It also includes providing any foreign person any technical data as defined above.

Public domain is defined in 22 CFR 120.11. Public domain information is information which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public. The ITAR describes means by which public domain information might be available, which in addition to libraries, subscriptions, newsstands, and bookstores, includes published patents and public release at conferences, meetings, and trade shows in the U.S. where those venues are generally accessible to the public. Note that the ITAR definition states that information must be already published, while the EAR definition does not.

Export is defined in 22 CFR 120.17. It includes (1) Sending or taking a defense article out of the United States in any manner, except mere travel outside of the United States by a person whose personal knowledge includes technical data; or (2) Transferring registration, control or ownership to a foreign person of any aircraft, vessel, or satellite covered by the U.S. Munitions List, whether in the United States or abroad; or (3) Disclosing (including oral or visual disclosure) or transferring in the United States any defense article to an embassy, any agency or subdivision of a foreign government (e.g. diplomatic missions); or (4) Disclosing (including oral or visual disclosure) or transferring technical data to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad; or (5) Performing a defense service on behalf of, or for the benefit of, a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad.

Under the ITAR, taking controlled technical data out of the U.S. on a laptop computer is an export, regardless of whether or not that information is viewed or accessed while abroad. It also includes allowing a foreign person to view or use a defense article in the U.S. Most exports of defense articles, technical data, and defense services must be licensed by DDTC.

Commodity jurisdiction

The DDTC has the responsibility to determine if an item or technology falls within the scope of the ITAR for the purpose of export controls. While it is possible to self-classify an item, DDTC should be consulted if there is any doubt as to whether an article or service is subject to the ITAR. At UNR, the Export Control Officer in Sponsored Projects will assist with the submission of commodity jurisdiction requests, as well as with the determination of any export licensing requirements.