The Bureau of Industry and Security actively encourages the submission of Voluntary Self-Disclosures (VSDs) from parties who suspect they may have violated the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). VSDs serve as a strong indication of a party’s commitment to complying with U.S. export control requirements. Additionally, they can provide BIS with valuable information about other potential violations.
BIS conducts a thorough review of all VSDs received to assess if violations of the EAR have occurred and to determine the appropriate corrective actions when violations have taken place. For more detailed information on the submission of VSDs, please refer to Section 764.5 of the EAR.
Parties are strongly encouraged to submit VSDs electronically to [email protected].
Hard copy filing is not required in addition to electronic filing and please be aware that receipt and processing delays may occur in instances where only a hard copy VSD is submitted. Consistent with the electronic filing of disclosures, OEE also accepts digital signatures, provided that they are made by an official of the corporation or other organization with the authority to do so, pursuant to Section 764.5(c)(5).
To submit a VSD or any related correspondence in hard copy, please send one copy of the information to:
Director, Office of Export Enforcement
1401 Constitution Ave.
Room H4514Washington, DC 20230
Tel: (202) 482-5036
VSDs Involving Minor or Technical Violations
For VSDs that involve only minor or technical infractions – i.e., those without aggravating factors – BIS has implemented a “fast-track” resolution policy, which permits submissions to Export Enforcement using a new abbreviated narrative account process described below. VSDs involving minor or technical violations will receive a warning or no-action letter within 60 days of final submission.
Parties also may bundle multiple minor or technical violations into one overarching submission, if the violations occurred close in time. Parties may submit such minor or technical violations into a single VSD submission on a quarterly basis using the abbreviated narrative account process identified below. Examples of minor or technical violations include, but are not limited to, immaterial EEI filing errors, inadvertent record keeping violations resulting from failed file retrieval or retention mechanisms (e.g., physical damage caused by flood or fire and/or electronic corruption due to malware, virus, or outage), incorrect use of one license exception where other license exceptions were available, etc. Parties may itemize the various minor or technical violations in list or spreadsheet form.
Abbreviated Narrative Account Process
Parties disclosing violations where no aggravating factors are present may submit an abbreviated narrative account as part of their disclosure. The content of the abbreviated narrative account is described below and includes a brief description of the nature of the violations as outlined in Section 764.5(c)(3) of the EAR, but need not include all of the accompanying documentation outlined in Section 764.5(c)(4) of the EAR, unless specifically requested by the Office of Export Enforcement (OEE) Director. Additionally, parties submitting such abbreviated narratives do not need to conduct the full five-year lookback recommended in Section 764.5(c)(3), unless specifically requested by the OEE Director.
A complete abbreviated narrative account should include:
- a notation at the top of the submission stating “Abbreviated Narrative Account,”
- the disclosing person’s name,
- the nature of the violations (i.e., a description of the suspected violations and their underlying cause),
- an explanation of why these violations are not considered significant (i.e., do not involve aggravating factors as discussed in Sections III.A-C to Supplement No. 1 to Part 766 of the EAR), and
- a description of any mitigating circumstances, to include an explanation of remedial compliance measures taken.
If OEE suspects the presence of aggravating factors that are not disclosed, the OEE Director will request a full narrative account, including the five-year lookback, with accompanying documentation.
VSDs with Aggravating Factors
For VSDs that involve circumstances with aggravating factors, submitting parties should continue to conduct a thorough review of all export-related transactions where possible violations are suspected. In those instances, we continue to recommend that the review of the suspected violations cover a period of up to five years prior to the date of the initial notification, consistent with Section 764.5(c)(3) of the EAR.
Treatment of Unlawfully Exported Items
Linking VSD Submissions with a Request to Engage in Activities related to a Known Violation
When submitting a VSD, parties may request special permission from BIS to engage in activities that would otherwise be prohibited by Section 764.2(e) (“Section 764.5(f) requests”). For example, among other prohibited activities, parties seeking to store, use, transfer, service, or repair any item subject to the EAR where there is a known violation would be prohibited from doing so without prior authorization. It is very important to be specific in your request with respect to the activities in which you wish to engage.
Section 764.5(f) requests must be formally submitted to the Office of Exporter Services (OExS) on letterhead and signed pursuant to the procedure identified in Section 764.5(f) of the EAR – using email address [email protected] – courtesy copies of such requests can also be sent to OEE via email to [email protected]. To facilitate coordination with OExS, submitters should highlight to both OExS and OEE that such a request is linked to a VSD. A copy of the VSD must be included with your request.
OExS will review the request taking into account the licensing review policy related to the violation and grant appropriate requests in consultation with OEE. Review time varies depending on the complexity of the request and whether sufficient information has been included or if additional information must be requested. If an abbreviated narrative account was provided in a VSD, the Section 764(5)(f) request should more fully describe the specifics related to the violation, including, at minimum, the data elements at Section 764.5(c)(3)(i)-(v) of the EAR. OEE and OExS will work together in OExS’s review and analysis of the request to ensure decisions to grant such requests are appropriate, thereby allowing the items to be placed back into the lawful stream of commerce.
Other Disclosures and Related Requests to Engage in Activities related to a Known Violation
Furthermore, any person (i.e., not just a party submitting a VSD) may notify the OEE Director that a violation has occurred and request permission from OExS to engage in otherwise prohibited activities. In the submission to OEE, such requesters should include the same information as required by a VSD, including, at minimum, the data elements in Section 764.5(c)(3)(i)-(v) of the EAR. These disclosures can be made through our confidential reporting form or through the email address at [email protected].
The Part 764 authorization submission to OExS should be made in the same manner as those involving a VSD pursuant to the procedure identified above (via email to [email protected]), along with a copy of the disclosure associated with the request. A courtesy copy of the authorization request should be sent to OEE at [email protected]. The authorization request should highlight that although the requester does not believe that they have committed a violation, they are aware that a violation has occurred and are requesting permission from BIS to engage in activities described in Section 764.2(e) of the EAR that would otherwise be prohibited.
OExS will review the request taking into account the licensing review policy related to the violation and grant appropriate requests in consultation with OEE. Review time varies depending on the complexity of the request and whether sufficient information has been included or additional information must be requested by OExS to the requestor. OEE and OExS will work together in OExS’s review and analysis of the request to ensure decisions to grant such requests are appropriate, thereby allowing the items to be placed back into the lawful stream of commerce.
OEE will not treat this disclosure of a known violation as a “VSD” if the requester does not believe that they themselves potentially committed a violation and would prefer the request not be categorized that way. Furthermore, for parties simply seeking to return an unlawfully exported item back to the United States from abroad, OEE’s presumptive recommendation will be for BIS to authorize such reexports.
Additional policy guidance on VSDs can be found through the links below: