Sign up now for our summer ITAR Export Traning Webinars & Workshops!
More Information about our Training Webinars & Workshops


Exporting and the use of military drones represent an important feature of modern warfare and surveillance strategies. These unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, are used for a variety of purposes, including reconnaissance, target acquisition, and delivery of munitions in conflict zones. FD Associates services to companies making exports of military and commercial drones with night vision cameras is critical to ensuring that these critical assets are exported under strict compliance with international and U.S. laws and regulations. Our expertise lies in navigating the intricate system of export controls and licensing requirements to aid in the lawful transfer of these advanced military technologies.

What Are the Federal Regulations for Exporting Military Drones?

The export of military drones is heavily regulated by various U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DoD), the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These agencies work together to ensure that the export of drones aligns with U.S. national security interests and international commitments. Under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) military drones are listed as defense articles and are subject to strict export controls. Under Export Administration Regulations (EAR) commercial drones can be export controlled depending on range and capability. Individually or with commercial night vision add to the commercial drone and the export is subject to strict export controls.

These regulations require that companies or individuals seeking to export military drones or commercial export controlled drones must first obtain proper licensing, which involves rigorous scrutiny of the end-user, end-use, and the security measures in place to prevent unauthorized use or transfer. The purpose of these controls is to prevent sensitive technology from falling into the hands of adversaries or being used in a manner that could be detrimental to U.S. interests or international peace. Non-compliance with these regulations can lead to severe penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and loss of export privileges.

The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) in the Political Military Bureau of the U.S. Department of State, administers the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), requiring licenses for the export of defense articles, including military drones, to ensure that U.S. military technology is not transferred to unauthorized users or uses. The DoD plays a role in adjudicating ITAR export license requests and is also involved in defining the operational and technical parameters of military drones to ensure they meet national defense requirements. The Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”), Department of Commerce, adjudicates export license requests for commercial controlled drones and night vision cameras. The FAA regulates the national airspace, ensuring that the export, testing, and operation of military drones comply with U.S. air safety standards. Collectively, these agencies ensure that the export of military drones and commercial controlled drones with or without  night vision cameras adheres to national security interests and international regulations, with stringent controls on where and how these sensitive technologies are disseminated.


Where Can I Export and Not Export Military Drones?

The U.S. has specific guidelines and restrictions on the countries to which military drones and commercial controlled drones can be exported. These decisions are often influenced by foreign policy objectives, international treaties, and national security. Exports are heavily regulated and contingent on current diplomatic relations and international agreements.

Some countries of interest:

Ukraine – The U.S. supports Ukraine in certain defensive capacities, and there have been transfers of equipment to Ukraine on a government to government basis. For Commercial controlled drones, for surveillance or defense the BIS is granting authorizations. For military drones to be sold on a direct commercial sale, an application would be processed on a case by case basis by the DDTC.

China – The export of military drones to China is expressly prohibited due to national security concerns and geopolitical tensions. These restrictions are in place to prevent the advancement of Chinese military capabilities that could counter U.S. interests.

How to Become Licensed to Export Military Drones

As one would imagine, becoming licensed to export military drones or commercial controlled drones involves a comprehensive process. Planning ahead and giving yourself plenty of time is key to success. Understanding all the complex regulations and filing for the correct licensing must be met.

Understanding the Regulations: The first step is to understand the ITAR and EAR regulations that govern the export of military drones or commercial controlled drones. Prospective exporters must be familiar with the specifics of these regulations, including what is controlled, licensing requirements, and the responsibilities of exporters.

Registration and Licensing: For military drones, exporters must first register with the DDTC and apply for the specific licenses related to the drones they wish to export. This involves providing detailed information about the transaction, including the end-user, end-use, and security measures in place. Read more on FD Associates and licensing services.

For EAR regulated drones, the EAR requires specific licensing after a simple registration process.

Compliance and Training: Exporters must ensure that they and their staff are trained in compliance with export control laws and regulations. This typically involves regular training programs and establishing internal compliance policy and procedures to monitor and manage exports.

Be sure to contact us for further questions and support regarding any export licensing questions or consultation.

Types of Military Drone Licenses

There are different types of licensing available for exporting military drones. Each license aims to weigh the security concerns with the economic and political interests of selling military equipment or commercial controlled equipment. FD Associates can assist your business in processing or applying for any ITAR or EAR licenses. Time frames are approximate and can take longer or shorter. It is best to be organized and plan for delays. We have broken down the different licenses below, but don’t hesitate to reach out to FD Associates for further exploration of the different licenses and which one is best for your circumstances.

DSP-73 Temporary Export License

This license allows for the temporary export of military drones for demonstrations, training, or other approved activities. It is particularly relevant for companies that need to bring drones to international trade shows or demonstrations.

DSP-61: Temporary Import License

The temporary import license is used for the provisional import of defense articles into the United States. Processing time can vary depending on the complexity of the application, the DDTC workload, and, with all applications, the accuracy of your documentation.

DSP-5 Permanent Export License

The DSP5 permanent export license is used for the sales of military drones, along with its related use and maintenance information.

DS-6004 Retransfer Requests

Foreign entities holding ITAR-controlled items must seek ITAR approval before any retransfer, re-export, or any ITAR equipment received via one the of the referenced licenses to a new end use, end user or party not previously identified on the export license. Processing typically can take 60-90 days but could take more or less.

DS-4294 Broker Registration

Individuals or companies that act on behalf of another and take actions that facilitate the marketing, sale or transfer of military drones are deemed brokers and must register with the DDTC and obtain appropriate licensing, ensuring that all transactions are conducted legally and transparently. Registration with DOS takes 3-4 weeks, and licensing, when required will take 60-120 days.

BIS 748P

Temporary exports for a period of one or more years and permanents exports of commercial controlled drones and night vision cameras are licensed for export using the BIS748P. Processing is generally 60 days.


Penalties for ITAR or EAR  Non-Compliance

Violations of ITAR or EAR regulations can result in severe consequences affecting money and time. Companies or individuals found to be non-compliant may face civil and criminal penalties. Civil penalties can include fines up to $1.2 million per violation, while criminal penalties can lead to fines of up to $1 million- and 20-years imprisonment per violation. Additionally, violators may face debarment from future exports, seizure of goods, and reputational damage. Therefore, strict adherence to ITAR and EAR regulations is crucial for all entities involved in the export of military drones.

Contact Us Today

If your company is doing business internationally, you cannot afford to be without the proper ITAR or EAR licensing for your products and services. Understanding the regulations and timing for obtaining the correct authorizations can protect your business against mistakes that will delay delivery to your customer. Failure to secure licenses when needed put your business in jeopardy and exposes the company to significant penalties.

Contact the experienced, professional team at FD Associates or call us at 703-847-5801. We will happily work with you, the Trade Compliance Professional, the Business Development Team, the Program Manager, and even your supply chain representative to ensure the proper authorizations are in place when you’re doing international business.

Want a FREE Consultation?

Call our ITAR and EAR Consultants and Lawyers for a FREE consultation for a free 15 minute consultation at 703-847-5801.