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I hope this isn't off-topic since I think it's a general issue that applies to many ICs.

I'm looking into buying a TI battery charger chip, but the datasheet alone seems to be restricted by the "U.S. Government export approval". Does that mean even buying a few samples would need such an approval?

The form for datasheet on the TI site asks for a name, an email address and an affiliation. How does the US Government conduct a meaningful assessment given the unreliable data? There's no verification involved but it takes 1-2 business days for processing.

To buy larger quantities, would one need special documents?

Thanks

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  • \$\begingroup\$ At one stage my company used a lot of restricted resistors. We eventually got a personal visit from a US agency, and their security team, to verify that we were using them in our products (not shipping them to a banned country). So they do look at the data they collect! See also this story for a very relevant example. \$\endgroup\$ – tomnexus Aug 31 '15 at 10:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. Did you need an approval when you made the purchases though? What quantity did you use? \$\endgroup\$ – Kar Aug 31 '15 at 10:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is the theory that when you list all restricted items, you have the combined BOM of all us nuclear devices... \$\endgroup\$ – PlasmaHH Aug 31 '15 at 19:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wikipedia has a writeup here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_Administration_Regulations This is a serious legal requirement for US companies; we can get fined if we don't have ECCN documentation for everything we ship. \$\endgroup\$ – MarkU Aug 31 '15 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ The part may have an ECCN number etc, but what is required from the buyer if they purchase large quantities? \$\endgroup\$ – Kar Aug 31 '15 at 20:15
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While I'm not affiliated with TI, so I can't do more than speculate into their reasoning, a vendor is required to perform the due diligence necessary to make sure that parts they ship won't end up in a sanctioned nation. The Overview of U.S. Export Control System has a few guidelines for exporters along with a few common-sense checks that the exporter should perform, all of which sound similar to the data TI collects.

Applying common sense is essential in weeding out potentially problematic transfers. Alarms should sound if:

A customer or agent -

Is reluctant to provide end-use/user information

Is willing to pay cash for high-value shipments

Has little background or history in the relevant business

Appears unfamiliar with the product or its use

Declines normal warranty/service/installation

Orders products/quantities incompatible with the relevant business

Provides vague delivery dates or locations

By providing that information early, often, and consistently, one gives TI plausible deniability should a customer order a bulk shipment of parts and forward it to North Korea, or something along those lines.

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