Shipping Terms Glossary

Export License

The export license is a legal document that gives an entity the right to export certain types of commodities. If you are exporting, you should also be aware of the export duties that may be applicable.

What is an export license?

It is a legal document that gives an entity the right to export certain types of commodities.

Where can you get an export license?

Local governments are responsible for granting them.

Who should prepare the export license?

Your supplier. They should obtain an export license from the local government.

What if your supplier does not have an export license?

You can export the goods through a trading firm or an export agent who has an export license.

How can you know if your supplier has an export license?

Simply ask and clarify this when drafting the initial agreement with them.


If the supplier does not have an export license, know that there will be an additional cost to export through a trading firm or an export agent, and clarify who will bear this additional cost.

What is the cost of an export license?

The cost will either be based on the shipment value, or it will be a fixed rate. It depends on the trading firm or export agent you choose to obtain it through.

Is the export license required for all export shipments?

It differs from country to country.


Some countries require an export license only when you’re shipping prohibited goods. Others may require just a permit or a certification.


If you’re exporting from China, you will need an export license for any type of good. Without it, Chinese customs will not grant you export clearance.


In the US it's different. Only goods that do not fall under the “NLR (No License Required)” designation will require an export license.

So please check what is required in your particular case.

If you are exporting, you should also be aware of export duties that may be applicable.

Daisy Jiang

Proud Co-Founder and CEO of Bookairfreight. Shortly after starting to work in the world of logistics, I was astonished at how difficult and time consuming it was for businesses to get their hands on a simple air freight quote. I saw this as an opportunity to really make a difference in people’s lives, and felt like I had to do something. It was the spark that lit the fire of Bookairfreight’s creation.

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