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ITAR, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, is a set of US government regulations that control the export of defense-related articles and services. For distribution companies that export, ITAR compliance is an essential aspect of their operations. In this article, we will explore the implications of ITAR for distribution companies and the steps they must take to ensure compliance.

ITAR applies to a wide range of products and services related to defense, including technical data, software, defense services, and defense articles. ITAR is managed by the US Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), and its purpose is to regulate the export of defense-related products and services to ensure they do not fall into the hands of prohibited countries, organizations, or individuals.

For distribution companies that export defense-related products and services, ITAR compliance is mandatory. Companies that violate ITAR regulations can face significant penalties, including fines and even imprisonment for the individuals involved. Additionally, non-compliance with ITAR can harm a company's reputation, making it more difficult to secure future business in the defense industry.

Steps to Ensure ITAR Compliance for Distribution Companies:

  1. Determine ITAR applicability: The first step for distribution companies is to determine whether their products and services are subject to ITAR regulations. This can be done by reviewing the US Munitions List (USML) and determining if their products and services are listed.
  2. Establish ITAR compliance policies and procedures: Once a company has determined that ITAR applies to their operations, they must establish policies and procedures to ensure compliance. This includes establishing a compliance program, developing and implementing training programs, and setting up a system to track and monitor exports.
  3. Conduct a risk assessment: Distribution companies should conduct a risk assessment to identify areas where they are vulnerable to non-compliance with ITAR. This assessment should be used to identify areas where the company can make improvements to their ITAR compliance program.
  4. Obtain required licenses and authorizations: Distribution companies must obtain the required licenses and authorizations from the DDTC before exporting defense-related products and services. This includes submitting export licenses, technical assistance agreements, and manufacturing licenses.
  5. Maintain accurate record-keeping: Distribution companies must maintain accurate records of their exports and related activities, including invoices, packing lists, and shipping documents. These records must be kept for a minimum of five years.
  6. Regularly review and update compliance policies: ITAR regulations are subject to change, and distribution companies must regularly review and update their compliance policies to ensure they remain in compliance.


For distribution companies that export defense-related products and services, ITAR compliance is essential. The penalties for non-compliance can be severe, and companies can also face harm to their reputation. By following the steps outlined above, distribution companies can ensure that they are in compliance with ITAR regulations and avoid the risks associated with non-compliance.


  1. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR 120-130 (2021).
  2. US Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls. (2021). ITAR Overview.
  3. The Guide to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), by Jerrold Green, J.D. (2021).
  4. ITAR Compliance for Defense Contractors: An Overview, by Arina Shulga, J.D. (2021).

Ways We Can Help You

Contact us to receive assistance in navigating cybersecurity risks and information compliance for your company. Here are some additional ways we can help:

  • Schedule a free discovery session with us during which we can learn about your company, answer your questions, and assist you in determining if Cleared Systems is the right fit for you.

  • Register for our upcoming cybersecurity and information compliance training.

  • Purchase our books on CMMC 2.0, CUI, Data Breaches, and ITAR.

  • Join our weekly free webinar sessions to ask questions and learn about the latest developments in cybersecurity and information compliance.

Author Profile

Carl B. Johnson, President of Cleared Systems, is a highly experienced and a ITAR, CMMC 2.0, Microsoft GCC High, and Microsoft DLP/AIP consultant. With over twenty years of experience in information assurance, cybersecurity, policy development, risk management, and regulatory compliance, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his clients.

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