United States: Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You? Export Control Agency Visits

Last Updated: July 18 2017
Article by Olga Torres and Derrick Kyle

Many exporters are at least vaguely familiar with the "company visits" or "outreach visits" conducted by the export control agencies, but most have very little idea what these visits actually entail, how a company is selected for a visit, or the potential consequences of such a visit. Exporters, freight forwarders, non-exporting manufacturers of defense articles, and companies that share controlled technology with foreign persons, resulting in "deemed exports" should thoroughly prepare for these visits if they are ever "lucky enough" to be selected.

This article will constitute the first part of a two-part series and will introduce the reader to the types of visits conducted by the two major export control agencies: the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security ("BIS") and the Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls ("DDTC"). Additionally, this article will discuss some of the potential outcomes and consequences of these visits. In the forthcoming second part of the article, we will summarize our recommendations to prepare for and make the best of such a visit.

DDTC Company Visit Program

The DDTC administers the International Traffic in Arms Regulations ("ITAR") and maintains the U.S. Munitions List ("USML") of controlled defense articles. Generally, the DDTC regulates exports of defense items, develops and enforces defense trade export control laws and regulations, and maintains registration requirements for manufacturers, exporters, and brokers of defense articles and defense services. DDTC also operates a Company Visit Program ("CVP"), which consists of visits by DDTC officials to entities registered with the DDTC, as well as other entities involved in ITAR-related activities.

In its current form, DDTC's CVP supports two types of visits: CVP-Outreach, called "CVP-O" and CVP-Compliance ("CVP-C").1 CVP-O is referred to by DDTC as an extension of DDTC's outreach activities. According to DDTC, CVP-O visits are intended to be learning exercises for both the selected company and DDTC. During a CVP-O visit, a company has the opportunity to discuss the compliance challenges it faces with actual DDTC personnel. For their part, the DDTC team has the opportunity to see first-hand how members of industry are adapting to changes to the ITAR and other compliance changes. The CVP-O team can also provide suggestions for best practices and answer any questions the visited company may have. DDTC claims that CVP-O site visits are unrelated to any specific compliance matters and has stated that CVP-O visits are more educational in nature and are not conducted to evaluate compliance failures or violations.

DDTC also engages in CVP-C visits, which are conducted by the Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance ("DTCC") to verify company compliance. For example, if a company has entered into a consent agreement after the discovery of ITAR violations, the company should expect a CVP-C visit in the future. CVP-C visits may also occur in the context of the adjudication of a voluntary self-disclosure ("VSD"), directed disclosure, or other compliance matter. CVP-C visits will include a more in-depth look at a company's compliance program and procedures.

Typically, DDTC aims to conduct between two and four CVP visits (of either type) per quarter. From May 2015 to April 2016, DDTC conducted fifteen CVP visits, and six of those were CVP-C visits pursuant to consent agreement monitoring. Six of the fifteen CVP visits were conducted in foreign countries.2 DDTC addresses how a company is selected for a CVP visit, but specific details are sparse. According to its website, DDTC "selects companies based on its CVP goals" and considers multiple factors when selecting a company. These factors include "proximity to other activities DDTC is participating in, registration status, volume of licensed activity, experience conducting ITAR activities, nature of business, type and sensitivity of technology, geographic location, monitoring of an existing consent agreement, and value to ongoing work within DDTC."3

BIS Outreach Visits

BIS administers the Export Administration Regulations ("EAR") and its Commerce Control List of sensitive "dual-use" goods and technology. Like DDTC, BIS also conducts on-site "outreach" visits. Unlike the ITAR, though, the EAR has no requirement for exporting or manufacturing entities to register with BIS. Thus, unlike DDTC-registered companies which by virtue of their registration are within the pool of companies that should be prepared for a CVP visit, the lack of an EAR registration requirement means that companies subject to BIS' jurisdiction may not be explicitly aware of their potential to be selected for a visit from BIS.

BIS conducts two different types of visits, but whereas both types of DDTC visits are administered within the same CVP framework, the two types of BIS visits are conducted by two completely separate divisions within BIS. The first, and far more common, type of visit is an "outreach visit" conducted by BIS' Office of Export Enforcement ("OEE"). Technically speaking, the OEE creates a distinction between situations where a company requests OEE to come, called a "visit," and where OEE arrives uninvited, called an "inquiry." For simplicity's sake, we'll refer to all situations where OEE comes to a company as an "outreach visit."

OEE outreach visits are conducted by OEE officers, the "guns and badges" branch of BIS, through the division's Outreach Program. OEE has informed the public that companies that could be selected for visits include, but are not limited to, manufacturers, exporters, and freight forwarders. It is not entirely clear how OEE selects companies for outreach visits. However, exporters that have recently submitted an export license application without having previously applied for any licenses in the past have been targeted for outreach visits. In fiscal year 2016, OEE conducted more than 743 outreach visits to individuals and companies within the export community.4

BIS' Office of Exporter Services Export Management and Compliance Division ("EMCD") has also begun to conduct company visits over the past couple of years. These visits are much less frequent than OEE outreach visits; only 40 on-site EMCD visits were conducted during fiscal year 2016.5 EMCD selects entities for a company visit based on filing errors found within the Automated Export System ("AES"). BIS explains that EMCD meets with these entities "to better understand the specific reasons that errors occurred, determine what export compliance procedures they [have] in place, and offer export counseling assistance."6

Consequences of Visits

Typically, the only consequence of receiving a company visit from either DDTC or BIS is becoming more familiar with the agencies' expectations for compliance. However, in some cases there certainly can be negative consequences. One area of concern is that it is unclear how either agency handles violations discovered during a visit. Per the DDTC website, if the DDTC visit team discovers a violation during their visit, DDTC will instruct the company to review the issue and submit a disclosure, if necessary.7 Importantly, DDTC does not specify whether the disclosure would be a VSD or a directed disclosure. The distinction is important because the submission of a VSD is considered a mitigating factor in the levying of any potential penalties, while a directed disclosure does not provide for any mitigation. BIS has provided no official guidance as to how it handles the discovery of violations during visits.

Additionally, in some cases BIS has imputed "knowledge" on a violating company based on evidence that the company participated in outreach visits in the past. For example, the charging documents in a recent $27 million settlement with an exporter detail several instances where BIS and other government agencies conducted outreach visits with the charged party. These visits were explicitly referenced to establish "knowledge" i.e., the exporter knew of its compliance obligations and violated the regulations anyway.8 Knowledge of the illegality of actions is an important piece of building an administrative case against an exporter, as well as providing an important component for recommending a case to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

It is clear that, although potentially helpful and informative, visits by the export control agencies may not, and often are not, entirely positive experiences. With critical factors at stake like the mitigation of penalties or referral to the Department of Justice, visits from DDTC or BIS should be treated with the respect they deserve. The forthcoming second part of this article will discuss how to best prepare for a visit from one of the above referenced export control agencies and provide recommendations for navigating a visit with optimum results.

If you have been selected for a company visit by an export agency and wish to share your experience, or simply seek more information about these visits, we encourage you to contact us.


1. On April 19, 2017, DDTC published recommendations for improvements to the CVP that were proposed by the Defense Trade Advisory Group ("DTAG"). The DTAG is made up of U.S. private sector defense exporters and defense trade specialists that act as a formal channel for consultation and coordination with DDTC on issues involving U.S. laws, policies, and regulations related to defense exports. At this point, it is unknown whether any of DTAG's recommendations will be adopted by DDTC. The PowerPoint presentation providing the recommendations, called "Company Visit Program Guidelines," is available at DDTC's website at http://pmddtc.state.gov/DTAG/index.html, under the heading for April 19, 2017. Torres Law Managing Member, Olga Torres, is a member of DTAG.

2. Defense Trade Controls Compliance Company Visit Program (CVP), DDTC, 10 (July 2016), available at https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/compliance/documents/CVP_Overview.pdf.

3. Company Visit Program (CVP), DDTC (Sept. 21, 2016), https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/compliance/cvp.html.

4. Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2016, Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, 16 (Oct. 7,2016), available at https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/documents/about-bis/newsroom/1629-bis-report-to-congress-fy-2016/file.

5. Id. at 10.

6. Id.

7. Company Visit Program (CVP), DDTC (Sept. 21, 2016), https://www.pmddtc.state.gov/compliance/cvp.html.

8. In the Matter Of Access USA Shipping, LLC, Settlement Agreement, Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, 4 (Feb. 7, 2017), available at https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/forms-documents/about-bis/newsroom/1661-access-usa-shipping-final-order/file.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
13 Aug 2019, Webinar, Dallas, United States

Join Torres Law Senior Counsel, Nicole Aandhal, for this interactive and insightful webinar discussing best practices for export compliance and pitfalls to avoid.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions