While California does issue export licenses, it should be noted that import/export matters are federally regulated, meaning that no state issues its own import or export license. Some agents exporting from the United States or any of its federally controlled territories must obtain an export license. However, not every export item requires an license. The United States Department of Commerce has a large and dense set of requirements to determine which exports require licensure and which do not. (See References 1)

Commerce Control List

There are two main classifications for the United States Department of Commerce regarding exports. The first is the Commerce Control List, which is a subset of the broader Export Administration Regulations that govern the general classifications of export items. Anything registered in the Commerce Control List requires a license in order to export it. Likewise, most of the items that do not appear in this list can be exported without a license. That designation is No License Required, or NLR, as opposed to most of the items on the Commerce Control List, which are designated with an EAR99. (See References 2)

Exports Requiring License

Numerous items in the Commerce Control List require an exporter to have a current license before shipping them. This list grows every year, with new items added to it regularly, so an exporter must always stay abreast of developments. Among the items that require a license are: telecommunications equipment; hazardous or industrial chemicals; various electronics and computers; and laser technology.

Exports Not Requiring License

Anything that does not appear on the Commerce Control List most likely does not require an export license from the United States Department of Commerce. It may, however, require a license from another U.S. agency or an import permit from the country of your shipment's destination.