There are three ways to look up a product’s ECCN: by checking with the manufacturer, by performing a self-classification, or by requesting an official classification from the Bureau of Industry and Security. An ECCN determines whether an export license is needed from the Department of Commerce.
The Department of Commerce has jurisdiction over dual use items that fall into certain categories and regulates their export by requiring authorization for these items. Items that require this authorization are assigned an Export Control Classification Number, or ECCN.
ECCNs are five-character alpha-numeric designations used on the Commerce Control List to identify dual-use items for export control purposes. ECCNs categorize items based on the nature of the product, such as type of commodity or software. Items with ECCNs listed on the CCL fall into one of 10 categories, each of which is subdivided into five product groups. The first character of the ECCN identifies the product category, and the second character identifies the product group. Some product categories are nuclear materials, electronics, computers, information security and telecommunications.
Items that do not have or require an ECCN receive an EAR99 classification and may be exported without authorization with certain exceptions. If the item is to be exported to an embargoed country, to an end-user of concern, or in support of a prohibited end-use, the Department of Commerce requires the exporter to obtain a license.