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Steering Through New Seas: A Guide for Australian Freight Forwarders on new U.S. BIS Export Compliance requirements


The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) recently issued an updated "Freight Forwarder Guidance and Best Practices" document, aimed at enhancing compliance efforts among freight forwarders and exporters, also known as the U.S. Principal Party of Interest (USPPI). This guidance underscores the crucial role the freight forwarding community plays in securing the global supply chain against illegal exports and activities detrimental to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. Understanding these guidelines is paramount for maintaining a seamless and compliant international trade operation.

Key Changes in Freight Forwarder Guidance

The BIS document delineates the expanded roles and responsibilities of freight forwarders, emphasising their obligation to adhere to U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Noteworthy changes include clearer definitions of freight forwarders' duties in export transactions, explicit expectations from exporters/USPPIs regarding documentation and compliance, and a reinforced mandate for accurate record-keeping and reporting. This guidance is a step towards tightening the noose around illegal exports, including Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), by ensuring all parties in the export process are aligned with U.S. export controls and regulatory requirements.

Analysis from an Australian Perspective

For Australian freight forwarders and exporters, this updated guidance from the BIS holds significant implications. While the rules are inherently U.S.-centric, the global nature of supply chains means that Australian companies dealing with U.S. exports must be equally conversant with and compliant with the EAR. Comparatively, Australia has its own set of export control laws and regulations, yet the principle of preventing illegal exports aligns closely with U.S. objectives. The key challenge for Australian businesses will be to navigate these dual regulatory environments without compromising on efficiency or compliance.

Freight Forwarder Roles and Responsibilities: A Closer Look

Freight forwarders are tasked with a range of responsibilities under the new guidance, from obtaining clear instructions via a Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI) or Power of Attorney (POA) to ensuring compliance with all relevant export regulations. This includes being adept at handling the Electronic Export Information (EEI) filings, recognising red flags, and maintaining rigorous records as per EAR's Recordkeeping provisions. These responsibilities highlight the need for a symbiotic relationship between freight forwarders and exporters/USPPIs, predicated on transparency and accurate information exchange.

Compliance Best Practices for Australian Freight Forwarders

For Australian freight forwarders, aligning with the BIS guidelines necessitates a robust compliance framework that includes:

  • Screening and Due Diligence: Utilising tools like the Consolidated Screening List (CSL) to vet parties in a transaction.

  • Educational Resources: Familiarising themselves with EAR through resources available on the BIS website and other regulatory training.

  • Record-Keeping: Maintaining detailed records of all transactions, communications, and documentations as required by EAR.

  • Communication: Establishing clear lines of communication with exporters/USPPIs to ensure all export information is accurate and comprehensive.

Anticipated Effects on the Australian Import/Export Industry

Freight Forwarders in the Australian context might be wondering why this new guidance is important to them. The tightened U.S. export controls could introduce new challenges for Australian freight forwarding businesses, particularly those unfamiliar with the intricate details of EAR. However, these changes also present an opportunity to bolster the integrity of the global supply chain and enhance security measures against unauthorised exports.

However, to answer the question, there are two reasons Australian freight forwarders should become familiar with the new EAR guidance. Firstly, there are various circumstances and clients for which Australian freight forwarders might transport goods that are under EAR control, either because these goods have originated in the United States or incorporate United States components or materials. For this reason, meeting BIS standards for freight forwarders is essential to remain compliant with the EAR.

Secondly, as stated above, Australia also controls dual-use goods and has the same objective as the United States for doing so, being to prevent illegal exports. As an Australian freight forwarder applying the EAR standards will stand you in good stead to document and prove you also meet the principles of Australian export controls, in lieu of Australian specific detailed guidance.

Australian companies that proactively adapt to these guidelines can not only avoid potential compliance pitfalls but also position themselves as reliable partners in international trade, thereby strengthening trade relationships with the U.S.


The BIS's "Freight Forwarder Guidance and Best Practices" document marks a significant step towards enhancing compliance in the global supply chain. For Australian freight forwarders and exporters, understanding and implementing these guidelines is crucial for navigating the complexities of U.S. export controls. By fostering a culture of compliance and transparency, businesses can contribute to a secure and efficient international trade environment, safeguarding against practices that undermine global security and economic stability.

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189 views2 comments


Apr 08

A much needed concise summary. Well written.

Replying to

Thanks for the support and feedback!

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