International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

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The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is a set of US Government regulations that control the import and export of defense products. The purpose of ITAR is to safeguard national security, and to further American foreign policy interests. 

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations is authorized by the Section 38 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2778), which authorizes the President to control the export and import of defense articles and services. This authority was delegated to the State Department by Executive Order 13637. ITAR is currently administered by the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) which operates within the State Department

The scope of the ITAR is very broad. The ITAR applies to any defense products found on the United States Munitions List (USML). The USML is divided into three subcomponents, defense articles, defense services, and related technical data. 

Defense Articles under the USML include:

  • Guns, ammunition/ordnance
  • Launch vehicles, rockets (including satellites), torpedoes, bombs, and mines
  • Ground vehicles
  • Aircraft and related articles
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents, and associated equipment

Defense Services under the USML include:

  • Providing assistance, including training, to foreign persons on anything related to defense articles. This includes design, development, manufacturing, maintenance, etc. 
  • Providing foreign persons with controlled related technical data. 
  • Military training of foreign units and forces

Related Technical Data under the USML include:

  • Blueprints, drawings, documentation
  • Classified information about the defense articles and defense services
  • Software directly related to defense articles

All manufacturers, exporters, and brokers of defense products under the USML must be compliant with the ITAR, or they face fines and/or incarceration. To comply with ITAR, a company must register with the DDTC and apply for an export license or temporary import license. 

Please see LII’s Electronic Code of Federal Regulations for full text of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. 

[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]