The mission of the BIS is to advance U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic interests. BIS's activities include regulating the export of sensitive goods and dual-use technologies in an effective and efficient manner; enforcing export control, anti-boycott, and public safety laws; cooperating with and assisting other countries on export control and strategic trade issues; assisting U.S. industry to comply with international arms control agreements; monitoring the viability of the U.S. defense-industrial base; and promoting federal initiatives and public-private partnerships to protect the nation's critical infrastructures.
Items on the Commerce Control List (CCL) - which includes many sensitive goods and technologies like encryption software - require a permit from the Department of Commerce before they can be exported. To determine whether an export permit is required, an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) is used.
The main focus of BIS is the security of the United States, which includes its national security, economic security, cyber security, and homeland security. For example, in the area of dual-use export controls, BIS administers and enforces such controls to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them, to halt the spread of weapons to terrorists or countries of concern, and to further U.S. foreign policy objectives. Where there is credible evidence suggesting that the export of a dual-use item threatens U.S. security, the Bureau is empowered to prevent export of the item.
In addition to national security, BIS's function is to ensuring the health of the U.S. economy and the competitiveness of U.S. industry. BIS promotes a strong defense-industrial base that can develop and provide technologies that will enable the United States to maintain its military superiority. BIS takes care to ensure that its regulations do not impose unreasonable restrictions on legitimate international commercial activity that are necessary for the health of U.S. industry.