Sending employees abroad for conferences, product demonstrations, and so on can be hugely beneficial.
You can make new contacts and get to know potential customers or colleagues. But international business travel also holds a host of potential export compliance risks. Here are five important tips for minimizing the danger of committing export violations when employees travel!
1. Screen everybody against Restricted Party Lists
Tens of thousands of names are included in Restricted Party Lists kept by the U.S. and international agencies. That means there are tons of individuals, companies, research institutions, and government organizations that are illegal for you to do business with. Before meeting with anyone overseas, screen them against all the Restricted Parties Lists to reduce the threat of committing an export violation while travelling. This way you can make sure that you don’t allow anyone to have access to technology or information that might be a threat to national security or against the U.S. policy interests.
2. Educate travelers
Make sure that travelers know what they are and are not allowed to share while they’re outside the country. For instance, there’s an export control exemption for information related to “fundamental research.” On the other hand, technology, software, and technical data with potential military application must be strictly controlled. Your company needs to be certain that travelers understand their responsibilities before leaving the U.S. – what they can legally disclose, to whom, and under what circumstances; which exemptions, if any, apply to your company’s products, and what technology has been pre-approved for hand-carried export during the trip.
3. Stop accidental exports
Everything that travelers bring with them outside the United States qualifies as an export. Be aware of any products, documentation, technical specs, and information about technology that requires an export license. Sometimes even emails contained on a laptop or smartphone can be considered controlled technology that, if hand-carried across the border, could constitute an illegal export. Travelers should take care not to export technology without realizing it. For instance, they might be instructed to delete saved emails from their phone, or given a new laptop loaded only with software and documents approved for export.
4. Get your export licenses early
If any travelers are planning to bring controlled technology or related documentation with them outside the U.S., make sure that you apply for and get all the necessary export licenses as far in advance of the trip as possible. This includes any hand-carried exports: physical products that your employees might be using in demonstrations, plus as any handouts or PowerPoint presentations with information about your company’s technology. This goes hand-in-hand with Restricted Party Screening; you have to ensure that everything that crosses the border leaves the country legally, and to be certain that it’s given or shown only to people who are authorized to receive it.
5. Keep detailed records
Careful precautions are all for nothing if you can’t prove that your company tried its best to obey the law. Always maintain a detailed audit log for all export-related activities while travelling, with records of your Restricted Party Screenings, export licenses and/or exemptions, and signed declarations that your employees were made fully aware of their responsibilities and limitations during the trip. That way, in case of an accidental violation or a government investigation, you can show that your company performed its due diligence and did everything possible to ensure export compliance.
If your preparations in the weeks and months before out-of-country trips keep export compliance at the front of your concerns, you can feel confident that travelers are making the most of their time abroad without exposing your company to the risk of export violations.