A general export license is a broad grant of authority by the U.S. government under the Export Administration Regulation (EAR) that allows exporters to export certain categories of products without having to apply for a license individually. Exporters dealing with products that do not fall within the categories granted a general license must apply for an individually validated license (IVL) through the correct federal agency.
The United States controls the transport of goods from its territories to other countries for reasons of national security, economics or foreign policy. Any party that wants to send goods out of the country must do so under a valid general license or an IVL. Determining if a product qualifies under the general export licensing rules, making an individual application for a license unnecessary, requires an analysis of the characteristics of the product, the item’s destination and the recipient’s intended end-use of the item.
The EAR contains sections that detail product types that are ineligible for shipment under the general license, such as dual-use items used for both civilian and military purposes, and ineligible country destinations. The regulations also list items that require an IVL. If the product falls under the general export license grant of authority, the exporter may ship the product. The Department of Commerce's Exporter Counseling Division assists exporters in determining which license applies to products.