Complying with U.S. Export Restrictions

Some of the products in SparkFun's catalog are subject to export restrictions. If you are an international customer placing an order for one of these items, you will receive an email after ordering, and will need to answer a few questions before your order can ship.

What U.S. government entities does SparkFun comply with?

SparkFun complies with several different government entities when exporting products outside of the United States. Some of the departments and their acronyms are:

  1. U.S. Department of Commerce: Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). They hold the Export Administration Regulations, or EAR. This is where we get the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) for our products.
  2. U.S. Department of Treasury: Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). They have many lists, but one in particular is the Specially Designated Nationals List, or SDN.
  3. U.S. Department of State

What does this mean for my order?

Every order placed goes through a compliance software called Visual Compliance. What this does is it automatically screens billing and delivery addresses for potential export control violations. One of the many set of rules that we follow is verifying that who is purchasing the item and who is receiving the item isn't on a list from the U.S. Government saying they can't have it. If you are shipping internationally, or to a freight/mail forwarding location, we may contact you for additional information.

You can identify items that have some kind of export restriction by the small banner located under the "Add to Cart" button that says:

Why am I asked a set of questions for an item I ordered?

There are rules under Part 736 of the EAR for General Prohibitions that essentially require us to know the ultimate end user as well as what use this item is going to have. We don't require a long novel of its intended use, just enough of a description for us to have a good idea. It also allows us the chance to inform you about re-exporting rules if you do plan on sending, selling, or transferring the item to another country.

Why are you saying it's restricted when the manufacturer doesn't?

Some of our manufacturers are located outside of the United States and don't fall under some of our exporting rules. This means that they don't necessarily have to contact the the U.S. government entities needed to get the special classification each item needs. This only changes when it arrives in the United States. Even though they are located outside of the country, we (SparkFun) as a U.S. company still have to follow the export rules of the United States if we want to send it back out to other countries.

When do I need a license to import an item?

While it is very rare, there are some products we sell that will require SparkFun to file for a license through the BIS before we can ship the item out to you. The reasons vary from something specific about the product that makes it restricted, to the location that it is shipping to. This process of getting a license can be a bit lengthy because we're submitting information to the government and waiting for their response. We have seen it go as quickly as 30 days up to a couple of months depending on how busy they are. We'll definitely let you know if the product you're interested in has these restrictions and provide the steps that will need to be taken for us to file for a license.

What should I know about sending this item outside of the U.S. or to another country?

It is important to know that even after you have purchased a product from SparkFun, you are responsible for verifying the end user and end use if you decide to send, sell, or transfer the item to another country. This includes domestic to international, and country to country. This can be overwhelming and having to check through the Consolidated Screening List as well as figure out if the new recipient needs a license is a bit daunting, so please feel free to contact us for help. We can give you all of the information and tools you'll need!