Recordkeeping for Aviation Exports – What Do You Need to Retain?

Exporters must maintain records as proof of compliance with U.S. government regulations for a minimum of 5 years.  During this retention period, these retained records may be requested by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Census, or any other U.S. Government Agency that has jurisdiction over your export.  This can be a daunting task and I have seen businesses that failed to retain such records.  This article seeks to provide some guidance on the scope and length of your recordkeeping obligations as an exporter.

What records should be kept, you ask? The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) provides a list of records that must be retained.

  1. Export control documents.  Examples include license and license application, AES record, dock receipt, 7512 forms, and antiboycott reports. The only exception is a party that submits documents electronically to BIS via the SNAP-R system; these parties are not required to retain copies of submitted documents. Note:  I would not count on this and I would be sure to keep all copies for reference purposes.
  2. Memoranda.  Examples include written records of business communications, reminders, agreements, and contracts.
  3. Notes.
  4. Correspondences.  Chances are, there are emails concerning your transaction.  These are supposed to be retained.
  5. Contracts.  A series of communications that result in an agreement may be considered a contract.
  6. Invitations to bid.  This could include any RFP/RFQ.
  7. Books of account.  This means accounting records, which may be used to defend against an audit.
  8. Financial records.  All formal records of the financial activities of a business or person.
  9. Restrictive trade practice or boycott documents and reports.
  10. Notifications from BIS.  This includes notification from BIS of an application being returned without action, of an application being denied, of the results of a commodity classification or encryption review request conducted by BIS.
  11. Other records pertaining to any other transaction subject to BIS regulations (pursuant to 15 C.F.R. § 762.1).
  12. Any other record that is required to be retained under other BIS regulations.  There is a partial list of these regulations in 15 C.F.R. § 762.2(b).

I said that you have to retain these documents for at least five years.  What does this mean?  Export Regulations state 5 years from the latest of the following times:

  1. The date of export from the U.S.
  2. The date of any known re-export, transshipment, or diversion. If you are shipping to a overseas broker, then you may need to start the clock when the broker re-exports the articles.
  3. The date of the termination of the transaction, whether formally in writing or by any other means. If the articles are returned under an RMA, then you still need to keep the records for five years from the return.
  4. In the case of records of pertaining to transactions involving restrictive trade practices or boycotts, the date the regulated person receives the boycott-related request or requirement.

Another caveat: if any U.S. government agency makes a formal (or informal) request for records before that 5 year period is up, or give you any reason to believe that the record may be relevant to a court action, then that record may not be destroyed or disposed-of.  If this happens, make sure you get legal advice about the disposition of the records, in order to avoid an allegation of spoliation.

There is a list of records that are exempt from the recordkeeping requirements; however  some of these records may need to be retained because of other reasons (including other regulatory systems and your own quality assurance system).  These include:

  • Inspection certificate (but some documents like a raw materials certification may need to be retained under other provisions like your written quality system);
  • Warranty certificate (but if it is part of the contract then it may need to be retained);
  • Packing material certificate (but certificates like a shipper’s declaration of dangerous goods may be required to retained under other laws);
  • Goods quality certificate (but some documents like 8130-3 tags may need to be retained under other provisions like your written quality system);

Don’t forget that other agencies may have other overlapping retention requirements and you must comply with all such requirements.  For example, under the State Department regulations, 22 C.F.R. § 123.22 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) explains that the exporter of ITAR-controlled defense articles must file information prior to export and then under 22 C.F.R. § 122.5 must retain records for a period of five years from the expiration of the license or other approval.

As always, if you need help, contact us and we can work with you on developing the right systems for compliance!

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BIS Revises Sudan Licensing Policy

The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a final rule today revising its policy for review of applications for the export of parts in support of Sudan’s civil aviation industry from a policy of presumptive denial to one of presumptive approval.  This change makes it possible for exporters of aircraft parts to obtain a license to export parts “intended to ensure the safety of civil aviation or the safe operation of fixed-wing, commercial passenger aircraft.”

Prior to this rule change BIS maintained a general policy of denial of export license applications for “[a]ll aircraft (powered and unpowered), helicopters, engines, and related spare parts and components.” 15 C.F.R. § 742.10(b)(1)(iv).  The rule revision replaces that policy “to a general policy of approval for parts, components, materials, equipment, and technology that are controlled on the CCL only for anti-terrorism reasons and that are intended to ensure the safety of civil aviation or the safe operation of fixed-wing, commercial passenger aircraft.” The new rule goes into effect January 17, 2017.

The rule explains that these changes are being made “in connection with ongoing U.S.-Sudan bilateral engagement, and with the aim of enhancing the safety of Sudan’s civil aviation” in furtherance of U.S. goals to improve regional peace and security. The support and enhancement of safety in civil aviation was one of the carrots the United States used during its negotiations of the Iran nuclear deal as well.

One important caveat to the rule change is that a general policy of denial of export (or reexport) license applications has been retained if the transaction would “substantially benefit a sensitive end user.” Sensitive end users include (but are not limited to) Sudan’s military, police, and intelligence services, or persons owned or controlled thereby. Should you be contacted by a potential customer from Sudan it is therefore important to ensure that you follow your export compliance procedures to establish the identity of the ultimate end users.

The relevant text of the new rule is as follows:

15 C.F.R. § 742.10(b)(3)(ii) General policy of approval. Applications to export or reexport to Sudan the following for civil uses by non-sensitive end-users within Sudan will be reviewed with a general policy of approval.

(A) Parts, components, materials, equipment, and technology that are controlled on the Commerce Control List (Supp. No. 1 to part 774 of the EAR) only for anti-terrorism reasons that are intended to ensure the safety of civil aviation or the safe operation of fixedwing commercial passenger aircraft.

. . .

Note to paragraph (b)(3)(ii). Applications will generally be denied for exports or reexports that would substantially benefit a sensitive end user. Sensitive end users include Sudan’s military, police, and intelligence services and persons that are owned by or are part of or operated or controlled by those services.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has simultaneously amended its Sudanese Sanctions Regulations to authorize these exports.

Remember, this policy change does not mean that you can ship to Sudan without a license; rather, it means that as a general rule an export license will be granted for the export of aircraft parts in support of Sudan’s civil aviation industry. Sudan remains the only country on the Commerce Country Chart controlled under column Anti-Terrorism 1 (AT1), and AT1 applies to ECCN 9A991.d, under which most aircraft parts are categorized.

As always, anyone seeking to engage in new, complex, or unfamiliar export transactions should consult an export compliance attorney.

New ITAR Export Reporting Requirements Now in Effect

For those who may have missed it over the busy holiday season, a new method for submitting export and temporary import reporting information for ITAR-controlled articles went into effect as of December 31, 2016.  This change was part of the DDTC’s efforts to conform reporting requirements to the International Trade Data System “single window” administered by  U.S. Customs and Border Protection in accordance with the SAFE Port Act and Executive Order 13659.

Readers should already be familiar with the “single window,” better known as the Automated Commercial Environment (“ACE”) that has subsumed AESDirect for the purpose of most of your export filings.  Exporters will have been using ACE for their export filings for several months now, so the change to your systems and procedures should be minimal.  The revision to the ITAR effective December 31 harmonized those regulations by removing references to AESDirect and replacing them with references to CBP electronic filings and systems.

In theory this should make filing the appropriate reports for export of ITAR-controlled articles easier. Using the single window, an exporter of ITAR-controlled goods reports the required information to CBP via ACE, and CBP relays the relevant and necessary information directly to the DDTC. There is no need for the exporter to notify DDTC directly. This should help to eliminate confusion as to which reports must go to which government entity, and also eliminate the cost and burden of duplicative reporting requirements.

Exporters should note, however, that this does not eliminate all your requirements to correspond with the DDTC. You will still need to ensure you are obtaining the appropriate licenses for your ITAR-controlled exports, and ensuring your registration remains current. The new rule also did not amend any part of 22 CFR part 130, so your reporting requirements related to fees and commissions remains unchanged, for now.

As always, when in doubt, consult your export compliance attorney to ensure you are acting in accordance with the ITAR and all other export compliance laws and regulations.

 

Export Alert: New Destination Control Statement Required

Under current law, the US regulations require exporters to include a destination control statement (“DCS”), on each commercial invoice that accompanies an export shipment.  The export control documents that are required to show this statement include the invoice, the bill of lading, the air waybill, and any other export control document that accompanies the shipment from its point of origin in the United States to the ultimate consignee or end-user abroad.

This is sometimes known as the ‘non-diversion statement’ because the current version includes language stating that “diversion contrary to U.S. law is prohibited.”  The purpose of the DCS was to alert parties outside the United States that the item is subject to the US export regulations.

The rules have always held that compliance with the comparable ITAR requirement was an acceptable means of compliance where the shipment included both ITAR and EAR-controlled articles.  The comparable ITAR requirement requires slightly different language.  Many people nonetheless found the different language in each regulation to be confusing.

The Commerce Department has changed their DCS language to harmonize it with the ITAR-required-language.  This is meant to make compliance easier.  Starting on the implementation date of the rule (November 15, 2016), exporters of articles subject to BIS jurisdiction (those with ECCNs) should use the following destination control statement on all exports:

“These items are controlled by the U.S. Government and authorized for export only to the country of ultimate destination for use by the ultimate consignee or end-user(s) herein identified. They may not be resold, transferred, or otherwise disposed of, to any other country or to any person other than the authorized ultimate consignee or end-user(s), either in their original form or after being incorporated into other items, without first obtaining approval from the U.S. government or as otherwise authorized by U.S. law and regulations”

In addition, the DCS should show the Export Commodity Classification Number (ECCN) for any 9×515 or ‘600 series’ (nx6nn) items being exported.

There are exceptions to this DCS requirement for EAR 99 exports and also for exports under license exceptions BAG (baggage) and GFT (gift parcels and humanitarian donations), but typically these do not apply to exports of aircraft parts.

Another important change that will take effect with the November 15th implementation affects where the DCS goes.  Under the old BIS rules, it went on the export control documents.  Now the DCS only needs to go on the commercial invoice.

Do NOT state “domestic shipment only” or “not an export approval” on an 8130-3 tag

On June 28 the FAA issued a policy memo (AIR100-16-110-PM04) that forbade parties from stating “domestic shipment only” or “not an export approval” on the 8130-3 tag.

“This memorandum provides clarification on the use of “domestic shipment only” and “not an export approval” in block 12 of FAA Form 8130-3 (hereafter, tags). Inspectors, designees, delegated organizations, and persons authorized in accordance with a production approval holder’s approved quality system to issue tags are directed to not add “domestic shipment only” and “not an export approval” to block 12.”

This language tended to impede subsequent exports.  Many people mistakenly thought that this language was meant to prevent a subsequent export.

History

Use of this sort of language also ignored the original purpose of the “domestic tag.”  It was originally meant to create a kludge that made 8130-3 tags available to exporters.  It was called a “domestic” tag because it only certified compliance to domestic US standards, and not to any special import requirements of an importing nation.

Years ago, distributors were unable to obtain an export tag for parts. The reason for this began in 1963, the FAA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to establish the rules for export airworthiness approvals (Subpart L of 14 C.F.R. Part 21).   They classified the world of aircraft assets into three classes:

(1) A Class I product is a complete aircraft, aircraft engine, or propeller, which—

(i) Has been type certificated in accordance with the applicable Federal Aviation Regulations and for which Federal Aviation Specifications or type certificate data sheets have been issued;
or
(ii) Is identical to a type certificated product specified in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section in all respects except as is otherwise acceptable to the civil aviation authority of the importing state.

(2) A Class II product is a major component of a Class I product (e.g., wings, fuselages, empennage assemblies, landing gears, power transmissions, control surfaces, etc), the failure of which would jeopardize the safety of a Class I product; or any part, material, or appliance, approved and manufactured under the Technical Standard Order (TSO) system in the ‘‘C’’ series.

(3) A Class III product is any part or component which is not a Class I or Class II product and includes standard parts, i.e., those designated as AN, NAS, SAE, etc.

This can be found today in older versions of the Code of Federal Regulations.  But this distinction no longer exists in the modern regulations.

The original 1963 NPRM suggested that export airworthiness approvals would be available for Class I and Class II products. It explained that export airworthiness approvals would not be necessary for Class III products, and that exporters could self-certify airworthiness with respect to those units.   This dramatically limited the impact of the proposed rule, because most articles fell into class III.

During the comment period for this new rule, a manufacturer wrote to the FAA and said that it could foresee a possible need in the future to apply for Class III export airworthiness approvals for its own articles.  The stated purpose of the rule was to facilitate trade, so when the Final Rule was published in 1964, the FAA added a clause stating that manufacturers could also apply for Class III export airworthiness approvals in order to meet the request of the commenter.  This was 30 years before ASA existed, so ASA was not around to broaden the language to include non-manufacturer exporters.

Years later, as the export 8130-3 tag became more popular in international commerce, and the FAA signed international agreements promising to provide the 8130-3 tags with exports,the distribution community began to see a need for the tags to facilitate their trade.  But the regulatory language only permitted manufacturers to apply for the export 8130-3 tag.  So the “domestic tag” was born in order to provide a tag that distributors could seek.  The “domestic tag” only certified compliance to US domestic standards – it did not certify compliance to any special import standards of any importing nation (it was up to the exporter to address such conditions, and at the time foreign trading partners were happy to take this tag).

The domestic tag also quickly became popular among domestic users in the US (notably, Northwest Airlines in the late 1990s was an early proponent of the use of the 8130-3 tag for domestic transactions).

For a short time, this limiting language (“domestic shipment only”) actually appeared in an earlier version of Order 8130.21. ASA sought clarification from FAA Management at the time.  We pointed out that the original purpose was to facilitate export for distributors, and FAA Management agreed that this language was inappropriate.   FAA Management confirmed that the inclusion of that language had been a mistake, because it contradicted the original purpose of the domestic tag.

In order to discern the reason for this errant language, FAA Management called in the employee who was responsible for the text of the Order and asked “why did you include this language?”  The FAA employee’s reply was to shrug his shoulders and say “I don’t know … it seemed like a good idea at the time.”  The language was removed from the next revision of 8130.21, but it continued to find its way into 8130-3 tags.

Over the years, the FAA has recognized that this language impeded export transactions without offering any redeeming value.  The policy memo closes the loop on this language by forbidding it.

ASA members who encounter parties who want to print “domestic shipment only” or “not an export approval” in block 12 of FAA Form 8130-3, should draw the issuing party’s attention to this FAA policy memo.

Treasury Continues to Clarify Policy on Iran

U.S. Treasury Department licensing policy with respect to Iran continues to gain clarity as the Office of Foreign Assets Control issues new licenses.  On March 24, 2016, OFAC  issued under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations General License I – Authorizing Certain Transactions Related to the Negotiation of, and Entry into, Contingent Contracts for Activities Eligible for Authorization under the Statement of Licensing Policy for Activities Related to the Export or Re-export to Iran of Commercial Passenger Aircraft and Related Parts and Services.

In relevant part, the General License states

U.S. persons are authorized to enter into, and to engage in all transactions ordinarily incident to the negotiation of and entry into, contracts for activities eligible for authorization under the [policy for commercial aviation exports to Iran], provided that the performance of any such contract is made expressly contingent upon the issuance of a specific license by [OFAC] authorizing the activities to be performed.

In layman’s terms, the General License permits the ancillary processes that go into negotiating and finalizing a contract. The caveat is that the performance of the contract itself must be made conditional on issuance by OFAC of a Specific License covering the terms of the deal.

The benefit of General License I is to allow parties to bid on contracts and attempt to hammer out deals without having a Specific License already in place. But they must remember to make clear that the execution of any agreed-to contract is contingent upon issuance of a Specific License by OFAC.

Remember, General Licenses are those licenses that apply to everyone without any additional action required as long as you stay within the scope of the General License.

It remains important to exercise additional diligence in undertaking transactions with Iranian customers; but we can expect transactions to get easier as both Treasury and industry gain experience and familiarity with the process.  And as always, if in doubt, consult an export compliance attorney.

 

US Denies Export Privileges to Aviation Industry Parties

The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security has issued an order denying the export privileges of:

  • Ribway Airlines Company Limited,
  • Af-Aviation Limited,
  • Andy Farmer,
  • John Edward Meadows, and
  • Jeffrey John James Ashfield.

This is a temporary denial order that is only valid for 180 days, unless extended.  Although published in today’s Federal register, the order is actually dated January 19, 2016.  The Order prohibits the denied parties from engaging in export transactions, and it includes a prohibition against third parties exporting from the U.S. to any of these denied parties.

ASA members with a history of doing business with any of these parties should ensure that their future transactions remain consistent with U.S. law.

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