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Offline Cat

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Export of thermal imagers
« on: October 11, 2017, 08:55:50 AM »
Hello friends of the long wave infrared,

I'd like to know if and how thermal imagers can be brought legally safe from the USA to the EU (or the UK ::)) as a private person. Maybe someone already 'been there, done that' and could tell if the effort was worth it. I know the EEVblog forum is not about legal stuff but hopefully this topic is allowed to be discussed here nevertheless. Of course everything posted here is just for scientific research...

Currently I'm aware of ITAR [1] and the Wassenaar arrangement [2] which both regulate the export of thermal imagers.
In the current Wassenaar list [3] the thermal Imagers can be found under "optical sensors", "focal plane arrays" or "Microbolometer", section 6. A. 2.a.3.f.
The complete cameras are stated under section 6.A.3.b.4. In the notes there is stated when it does not apply, there can be found the well-known maximum frame rate equal to or less than 9 Hz.

FLIR [4], DRS [5] and ICI [6] have some documents about thermal camera export.
It seems like uncooled thermal camera modules with 30/60Hz Hz and 384×288 pixel resolution or less and can be exported from the USA to other STA designated countries without license.
When the camera module is embedded (maybe in an Ex fire brigade camera ???) it seems like the Bureau of Industry and Security can issue the license.

So if I take a trip in the US and disassemble the thermal camera there :-/O so I have only the module I can take it home without trouble?  :-//

Best regards,
Cat


links:
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Traffic_in_Arms_Regulations
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassenaar_Arrangement
[3] http://www.wassenaar.org/control-lists/
[4] http://www.flir.com/instruments/display/?id=64955
[5] http://www.drsinfrared.com/ResourcesSupport/ExportGuidelines.aspx
[6] https://www.infraredcamerasinc.com/thermal-infrared-resources/shipping-export-restrictions/
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Offline Ultrapurple

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 06:48:50 PM »
If you're planning to take a relatively high speed, high resolution thermal imager out of the USA I strongly advise you to make the appropriate arrangements with the vendor for the necessary export license. In theory it is either fairly straightforward, or prohibited by law, depending on the camera capabilities. Companies like FLIR, SPI etc know their business and the laws and will surely be able to advise, even if you're not planning to buy from them. If FLIR says they can't legally export a 640 x 480 x 30Hz camera to you then it would be unwise in the extreme to try and import a similar spec camera via a back-door method. (I'm not saying this is representative of the laws as understood by FLIR; the camera specs here are just an example).

I would not like to have to fight extradition to the USA facing charges of violating arms sales treaties simply because I thought I could save a few dollars on a thermal camera or dodge some paperwork.

I believe Fraser has experience of importing thermal imagers to the EU from the USA and elsewhere; may I suggest you send him a PM?

I'm in the UK and have had mixed luck with export licenses from different countries. I tried to buy a 30Hz 640 x 480 from ThermalExpert in South Korea but they were unable / unwilling to arrange an export license (and I was in discussions with them for a long time). On the other hand, obtaining the 25Hz 640 x 480 Therm-App Pro from Opgal in Israel simply required me to sign a single piece of paper that basically just saying who I was and what I planned to use the device for.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 12:00:33 AM by Ultrapurple »
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Offline Bill W

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 04:03:40 AM »
Two things to add:

Firstly what you have seen from FLIR etc of 'easy export of QVGA to STA countries' is that FLIR etc have got a bulk license from BIS for the export of cameras within certain specs, or perhaps certain models, for defined uses to the 'STA' countries.  It does not mean that there is no license required.

For Wassenaar purposes, the EU is one place, therefore UK to Germany etc is not really an export.  There is a form of words to put on the paperwork advising that it is a controlled item and that is all.
 
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Offline IwuzBornanerd

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 06:37:47 PM »
It should be noted that according to US regulations the "export" occurs when someone hands you the item, not when you leave the US.  I suppose, though, that leaving with it could require more paperwork.  That's one aspect where the "been there, done that" experience you mentioned would be more helpful. 

It has been about 6 years since I have been "grilled" on this subject, but as I recall an export is defined as a transfer of material, information, or services between a "US person" and a "foreign person", so the action can require a license even if the stuff does not leave the country.  So traveling to the US might not make it any easier to get your hands on what you want.  I believe a "US person" does not have to be a citizen, but can be merely a "green card" holder.  I don't recall all the specifics there.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 06:55:59 PM by IwuzBornanerd »
 
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Online Bud

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 07:00:47 PM »
Why dont you simply use the email address provided by Flir.

Edit: [email protected]
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 11:01:35 PM »
It is all explained here......

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/exporter-portal

Just read the guidance and follow the steps.

You need the cameras ECCN number to complete the paperwork. How to obtain such is detailed in the 101 guidance.

Fraser
 
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Online Fraser

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« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 11:45:37 PM by Fraser »
 
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Online Fraser

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2017, 12:33:41 AM »
Without knowing the spec or cost of the camera that is intended to be exported, I need to be careful. I will not tell you what is needed as it is for you and the seller to determine the export requirements.

I will point you towards the STA Exception though. This may well apply to your purchase and help you with the export.

Remember.... it is the exporter (seller) who must complete the BIS paperwork as they have to decide whether you are an appropriate person to own the technology. This is where many US companies baulk as they are nervous about making a mistake. It is the seller who is prosecuted for non compliance and not the buyer.

This tool should help you.

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/statool

Fraser

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« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 12:47:59 AM by Fraser »
 
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Offline Ultrapurple

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 12:37:32 AM »
Apologies if this has been posted elsewhere, but this caught my eye in the context of exports from the USA.

The US Department of Justice announced in this document:

"The complaint alleges that the defendant conspired with others located in both Ukraine and the United States to purchase export-controlled, military-grade equipment from sellers in the United States and to export that equipment to Ukraine without the required licenses. The devices obtained by the defendant and his co-conspirators included some of the most highly powerful and technologically sophisticated night vision rifle scopes and thermal imaging equipment available, including, among others, an Armasight Zeus-Pro 640 2-16x50 (60Hz) Thermal Imaging weapons sight, a FLIR Thermosight R-Series, Model RS64 60 mm 640x480 (30Hz) Rifle Scope, and a ATN X-Sight II 5-20x Smart Rifle Scope. In many cases, the devices 2 purchased by the defendant and his co-conspirators retail for almost $9,000, and they are specifically marketed to military and law enforcement consumers. As part of the conspiracy, in order to induce U.S.-based manufacturers and suppliers to sell them the export-controlled devices and to evade applicable controls, the defendant and his co-conspirators falsely purported to be United States citizens and concealed the fact they were exporters. The defendant and his co-conspirators also recruited, trained, and paid other U.S.-based individuals to export the controlled devices to Ukraine via various freight forwarding companies. Among other things, the defendant and his co-conspirators instructed the U.S.-based individuals to falsely describe the nature and value of the equipment they were attempting to export. In addition, to conceal their identities, as well as the true destination of the rifle scopes and thermal imaging equipment, the defendant and his co-conspirators instructed that the items be shipped using false names and addresses. The export of military-grade rifle scopes and thermal imaging equipment requires a license from either the United States Department of State or the United States Department of Commerce. Both the Department of State and the Department of Commerce have placed restrictions on the export of items that they have determined could make a significant contribution to the military potential and weapons proliferation of other nations and that could be detrimental to the foreign policy and national security of the United States. […] If convicted of the charges, the defendant faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine."

Ouch.

IMHO, definitely not worth trying to dodge the paperwork (and I'm not implying that's what the OP was suggesting).
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Online Fraser

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 12:57:47 AM »
The good news is that, in many cases an STA exception may be applied when the buyer is in an STA approved country. The UK is such a country. The buyer does need to complete an end user declaration and send it to the seller before shipping. This is detailed in the STA wizard that I provided a link to.

Life gets a little bit more complicated if STA may not be applied to a shipment. The licence application paperwork must be completed by the seller and not a drop-shipper. The seller needs to be willing to go through the export licence paperwork process. Not normally an issue when buying from the OEM, such as FLIR. Often an issue when buying used equipment from a 3rd party or via eBay.

You really need to study the ECCN catagories and confirm that he ECCN that applies to the camera as that dictates how it may, or may not be exported.

It is a little daunting at first glance, but it is honestly not that bad.

If you want to export a 1024 x 768 60fps camera....... there will be paperwork involved ! I would expect such to be bought from the OEM though and they sort all that out for you  :)

Fraser
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 01:02:15 AM by Fraser »
 
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Offline Ultrapurple

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2017, 01:06:33 AM »
I think if I had the cash to buy a new 1024 x 768 60fps thermal imager I'd get it from my friendly local FLIR (or whoever) rep rather than trying to import it directly myself. That way I'd also be able to make sure MSX can be switched off before parting with any money!
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Online Fraser

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2017, 01:08:53 AM »
Ultrapurple,

The case you have highlighted demonstrates how some people attempt to exfiltrate high tech controlled equipment out of the USA. The accused went to a lot of effort to covertly deliver those scopes to the consignee in Ukraine. This is not a simple case of an individual not realising that controls applied and accidentally shipping a controlled item without a licence. They will likely throw the book at him.

What is not detailed is how they got caught..... and for good reason  ;)

Fraser
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 01:10:29 AM by Fraser »
 

Offline Ultrapurple

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2017, 01:14:21 AM »
Fraser - I 100% agree.

There's a lot of difference between an honest mistake on one item and a deliberate concealment on many. And the DoJ document only details the things they're reasonably sure they can prove the accused person (tried to) export illegally. Who knows what else might have gone undetected.
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Online Fraser

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2017, 01:18:46 AM »
Ultrapurple,

I doubt FLIR (USA) would sell to a non US based buyer, they would normally refer the customer to their local Sales Agent. Sadly that can often mean paying a lot more for the camera. I have tried buying equipment direct from the OEM online shop and have been redirected to the UK agent.

Also, personal import into the UK attracts VAT and DUTY. Smuggling a controlled technology past UK customs is not a bright move as a paper trail exists and leads to you  ;D At the end of the day, it is often better to buy expensive equipment through a UK agent and just accept the mark-up. The full Warranty support is assured then as well.

Fraser
 

Online Fraser

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2017, 01:26:42 AM »
Well I hope we have helped the OP.

The complexity of Exporting Thermal Camera technology from the USA is dictated by the destination country, ECCN category and the willingness of the seller to produce any required paperwork.

At the end of the day, the OP has to look at the process, any import feed to Germany and the hassle of the whole process, compared to just buying within Germany.

A final comment, I am aware that the BIS guidance states the controls extend to Expirt AND Re-Export of the item. BIS appears to deal with countries in the EU individually rather than just 'Europe'. This is because some countries do have Export restrictions in place. I would not like to say that a ECCN controlled camera could be moved across borders in Europe without paperwork. It would be wise to check.

Fraser
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 04:08:40 AM by Fraser »
 

Offline Cat

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Re: Export of thermal imagers
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2017, 07:00:12 AM »
At first, I'd like to thank everyone for the help and the detailed answers. :-+

I should have stated, I thought it would be a good idea to buy some cheap used thermal imaging stuff from places like eBay.
The caveman inside wants more, and it would be nice to get some 'souveniers' from the vacation in the US. Thus probably QVGA resolution or, if there was a deal like the close outs from Sierra-Olympic, VGA at maximum.

After reading your posts it seems like the seller probably does not know he's already exporting when he sells me the stuff. Not to mention what duties he needs to fulfill or what papers to fill out. It's very disappointing but you are right, without the help of an experienced company it would probably end with me or the seller in jail... or worse.

But not all hope is lost. So if I find a bargain I'll try to get in touch with the manufacturer which export restrictions apply. If not everything is cut and dried I'll pass the offer and try to get something locally.

Best regards
Cat
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