International Transfers

An international program is a classified contractual agreement with a foreign entity for the sharing of classified information and/or material. An international transfer is a lawful and authorized government or commercial effort in which there is information and/or technology transferred from one country to another.

All international transfers of classified material shall take place through channels approved by both governments. This is accomplished by Designated Government Representatives (DGRs).

Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(d) International Transfers of Classified Material

All classified information provided or exchanged, whether it originates in the U.S. or a foreign country, must be protected so U.S. national security and foreign relations are not threatened. For this reason, specific requirements for protecting information in international programs are mandated by laws, executive orders, regulations, and international agreements.

Direct Commercial Sales

Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) are direct contractual arrangements between a U.S. company and a foreign government, international organization, or foreign company (export of defense articles, repairs or maintenance - defense services). The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) is the licensing authority for export of defense articles and services.

Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(b)(4) Direct Commercial Arrangements

Foreign Military Sales

Foreign Military Sales (FMS) are the government-to-government method for the U.S. Government to sell U.S. defense equipment and services, including training to authorized foreign governments and international organizations. The vehicle for conducting FMS between the U.S. Government and the foreign government is the Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) and the DSP-94 (Authority to Export Defense Articles Sold under the Foreign Military Sales Program). The DSP-94 is part of the LOA package. It gives the authority to export the defense article or services referencing the LOA as the export authorization. The U.S. Customs representative executes the form and returns it to DDTC each time an export occurs. DCSA does not have cognizance over FMS because the DSP-94 is an addendum to the LOA and involves government parties only.

  • FMS are direct contractual arrangements between the U.S. Government and a foreign government.
  • DCSA responsibilities include overseeing the security of international transfers when a U.S. cleared defense contractor (e.g. freight forwarder or carrier) is involved in shipping classified defense articles to the foreign government.


A cleared employee, designated by the contractor, whose principal duty is to transport classified material up to and including SECRET to its destination. Classified material will remain in the personal possession of the courier, except for authorized overnight storage.
Reference: 32 CFR §117.15(f)(4) Use of Couriers and Hand Carriers

Defense Courier Service

A government organization authorized by the Government Contracting Authority (GCA) to transport classified information up to and including TOP SECRET.
Reference: 32 CFR §117.15 (f)(2) Transmission Outside the United States and Its Territorial Areas


Normally large items that are moved pursuant to an approved transportation plan via commercial carrier or military transport.
Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(d)(2) Transfers of Freight
Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(d)(5) Use of Freight Forwarders


Accomplished between contractors and foreign embassies in the U.S., via registered mail or express mail to be couriered to the final destination. 

  • U.S. Registered Mail is NOT authorized for use when sending classified mail outside the United States. However, use of the Military Postal System is the only exception.
  • Military Postal System (MPS)

    Reference: 32 CFR §117.15 (f)(2) Transmission Outside the United States and Its Territorial Areas

    • Army/Air Force Postal Office (APO)
    • Fleet (Navy) Postal Office (FPO)

Electronic Transmission

Transfer of classified information via an accredited information system.

Hand carriage for small, SECRET and below materials can be accomplished by:

  • A hand carrier, who is a cleared employee of the contractor and occasionally performs this task. An example of a hand carrier is an engineer for the defense contractor.
  • A courier, who must also be cleared, and whose principal duty is to perform this task. An example of a courier is the Defense Courier Service, or a designated and cleared company employee trained for this purpose.
    • The courier should have a Courier Certificate
    • DCSA will approve for the US. Government
    • Agreement must include both governments

MISWG 01 document is the recommended template.

Hand Carry Plan - Document Example

Common Discrepancies in Hand Carry (Courier) Plans

  • Export/Import authority not identified
  • DGRs not clearly identified in the plan
  • Courier itinerary not included
  • Improper method of travel from point-of-origin to airport
  • Improper method of travel from airport to destination
  • Missing flight numbers
  • Unacceptable departure, arrival, and layover times
  • Indirect flight from U.S. to destination country
  • Use of third country airline
  • Insufficient package description, list of contents, dimensions, classification, etc.

Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(d)(6) Hand Carrying Classified Material

A Transportation Plan (TP) outlines the process by which classified material is to be securely transported between governments.

All international transfers of classified material, as freight, will require a TP. The TP should describe the arrangements for the secure shipment from point of origin to the ultimate destination. The TP should identify the U.S. and recipient government Designated Government Representative (DGR), and any requirement for an escort. If there are repetitive shipments, a Notice of Classified Consignment must be used.

To ensure government control, written transmission instructions shall be prepared for all international transfers of classified material. The recommended timeline allows a minimum of 30 days for coordination of approvals.

The TP must clearly articulate procedures for a secure shipment of the material from the point of origin to the ultimate destination. Control of classified material must be maintained until the material is officially transferred to the intended recipient government through its DGR.

Export authorizations and the party responsible (U.S. Company/Foreign Government/Freight Forwarder) for providing the DSP-85 prior to the shipment of produced hardware, must be listed within the transportation plan.

Note: Foreign Governments are not subject to NISPOM Rule. However, they must be compliant with the bilateral agreements which are in concert with the laws and regulations of each respective country.

MISWG 10 document is the recommended template.

Transportation through Embassy (for diplomatic transfer only)
Sample FMS Transportation Plan

Common Discrepancies found in Transportation Plan

  • Authority for export/import not specified (DSP-85, TAA, ITAR exemption, etc.)
  • DGRs not clearly identified in the plan
  • Routing not clearly defined
  • Unauthorized Freight Forwarder or Carrier receiving material
  • Protective Security Service/Constant Surveillance Service not specified in plan
  • Receipting and/or packaging procedures inconsistence with NISPOM Rule
  • Security lapses at transfer points
  • Emergency procedures missing
  • Contact information incorrect
  • Cites NISPOM Rule rather than explain procedures to be followed
    • Foreign governments are not subject to NISPOM Rule

Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(d)(2) Transfers of Freight
Reference: 32 CFR §117.15(f)(3)(ii) Preparation and Receipting
Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(d)(6) Hand Carrying Classified Material
Reference: 32 CFR §117.19 (d)(7) Classified Material Receipts
Reference: 32 CFR §117.19 (d)(8)Contractor Preparations for International Transfers Pursuant to Commercial and User Agency Sales

A Designated Government Representative (DGR) is a cleared person designated by a U.S. or Foreign Government agency to act on the government’s behalf to transfer custody or accept custody for classified material and assume security responsibility. As the Cognizant Security Office (CSO), the DGR duties default to the DCSA Industrial Security Representative (ISR). However, DCSA Field Office Chiefs may appoint contractor DGRs.

Click here for the DGR brief.

The purpose of the DGR:

  • Maintain government control of classified material throughout the complete transfer process
  • Obtain written certification from the dispatching contractor’s Empowered Official verifying the classified export is within the limitations of the approved export authorization or an authorized export exemption.
  • Review the Export Authorization (DSP-85, TAA, MLA, and ITAR Exemption).
    • Read the provisos for additional requirements, ensuring classified material is releasable.
  • Review of material and check quantity. Visually inspect serial numbers within documentation to ensure they match hardware when applicable.
  • Ensure the applicant’s CAGE Code, FCL level, and date listed in item #6 of the DSP-85 are listed and correct.
  • Verify the name and address of the recipient facility is consistent with the export authorization and transportation plan.
  • Confirm the country of ultimate destination is the same as the country indicated in the Transportation Plan and Hand Carry request (Item #4 of the DSP-85).
  • Sign receipt transferring the material from the facility to government control. Prepare or review receipts transferring the material to the Foreign Government DGR.
  • Package, mark, label, and prepare classified material in accordance with 32 CFR §117.15(f)(3)(ii). Never authorize the export of a package without viewing the contents!!
  • The U.S. DGR will receipt the material to the Foreign Government DGR.
  • The DGR will notify the DCSA ISR after each export or at a pre-determined interval; the ISR will concurrently decrement the exports as well.

Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(d) International Transfers of Classified Material
Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(f)(3) Transmission of Classified Material to Employees Abroad

  • Protect the classified material and report an improper transfer to the ISR.
  • All imports will be opened in the presence of a DGR.
  • Immediately notify the Field Office of any discrepancies related to receipt of classified material.
  • The recipient DGR will sign the hand receipt for all imports and return to the originating DGR.

Reference: 32 CFR §117.19(c)(12) Reporting of Improper Receipt of Foreign Government Material
Reference: 32 CFR §117.8(c)(13) Reporting Requirements