What Is An ITN Number, And Why Is It Required?

So you’ve probably heard people mention something called an ITN number, but you’re not exactly sure what it is or why it’s required. Well, worry no more, because in this article, we’re going to shed some light on this mysterious number. An ITN number, or Internal Transaction Number, is a unique identifier used by the US Census Bureau to track and monitor exports. It is required for any shipment leaving the United States, ensuring compliance with export regulations. But what exactly does this mean for businesses and individuals involved in international trade? Let’s find out.

What Is An ITN Number, And Why Is It Required?

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Definition of ITN Number

Explanation of what an ITN number is

An ITN number, also known as an International Transaction Number, is a unique code assigned to an export shipment to facilitate the tracking and monitoring of international trade activities. It serves as an electronic filing control number and is used by customs authorities to ensure compliance with export regulations. The ITN number is an essential requirement for anyone involved in exporting goods from one country to another.

How ITN number is assigned

The ITN number is assigned by the Automated Export System (AES), a web-based electronic filing system maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau. When an exporter prepares to ship goods internationally, they are required to submit export information, including details of the shipment, to the AES. The system then generates an ITN number for that specific shipment, which is used to identify and track the goods throughout the export process.

Where ITN number is used

The ITN number is primarily used by customs authorities, freight forwarders, and other entities involved in international trade. It is a crucial component in ensuring the efficient movement of goods across borders, as it allows for the verification of export documents, facilitates customs clearance, and helps prevent illegal activities such as smuggling and fraud. Additionally, the ITN number is used for statistical purposes to generate accurate trade data and monitor export activities.

Importance of ITN Number

Ensuring compliance with export regulations

One of the primary reasons for the requirement of an ITN number is to ensure compliance with export regulations. By assigning a unique code to each export shipment, customs authorities can easily trace the movement of goods and ensure that all necessary export controls, restrictions, and licensing requirements are met. The ITN number serves as a transparency mechanism, allowing governments and regulatory agencies to monitor and regulate international trade activities effectively.

Verification of export documents

Another crucial function of the ITN number is to facilitate the verification of export documents. When an exporter submits the required information to obtain an ITN number, customs authorities can cross-reference this data against other documents, such as the commercial invoice, bill of lading, and export license. This verification process helps prevent fraudulent activities and ensures that the exported goods match the information provided.

Facilitating customs clearance

The ITN number plays a vital role in expediting the customs clearance process. When import shipments arrive at a foreign port, customs authorities use the ITN number to identify the corresponding export documentation filed in the country of origin. This allows for more efficient customs processing and reduces the likelihood of delays or errors in clearing the goods. Thus, having an ITN number significantly contributes to the smooth flow of international trade and helps avoid unnecessary disruptions in supply chains.

Preventing illegal activities

An important aspect of the ITN number is its role in preventing illegal activities related to international trade. The unique identifier created by the ITN number helps authorities detect and deter smuggling, money laundering, and other illicit practices. By tracking the movement of goods, governments can identify any suspicious or unauthorized transactions and take appropriate action. The ITN number serves as a crucial tool in safeguarding national security and protecting economies from potential threats posed by prohibited or unauthorized exports.

Requirements for Obtaining an ITN Number

Exporter’s identification information

To obtain an ITN number, exporters are required to provide their identification information, including their name, address, and contact details. This ensures that customs authorities can verify the exporter’s identity and maintain accurate records of international trade activities. Exporters may also need to provide their Employer Identification Number (EIN) or other relevant identification numbers as part of the application process.

Details of the export shipment

Exporters must provide detailed information about the shipment they plan to export. This includes the nature of the goods, their quantity, weight, and value, as well as the country of destination and the intended use of the goods. Providing accurate and complete shipment details is crucial for customs authorities to properly classify the goods and apply the appropriate export controls and regulations.

Exporter’s knowledge of export regulations

Exporters are expected to have a thorough understanding of export regulations and requirements applicable to their specific product or industry. This includes knowledge of any licensing or permit requirements, restrictions on certain goods, and destination-specific regulations. Demonstrating compliance with these regulations is essential for obtaining an ITN number and facilitating the smooth export of goods.

Payment of applicable fees

There may be fees associated with obtaining an ITN number, depending on the country and the specific export transaction. Exporters are responsible for paying these fees to cover the costs of processing the ITN number application and supporting the maintenance of the AES system. The payment process may vary depending on the country and the preferred method of payment accepted by the customs authorities.

What Is An ITN Number, And Why Is It Required?

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Process of Obtaining an ITN Number

Accessing the Automated Export System (AES)

To obtain an ITN number, exporters must access the Automated Export System (AES), which is an online portal provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. The AES allows for the electronic filing of export information and the generation of the ITN number. Exporters can access the AES through a secure login and password provided by the U.S. government or their authorized representatives.

Submitting export information

Once logged into the AES, exporters need to submit all the required export information accurately and completely. This includes details about the shipment, such as the exporter’s identification information, the nature of the goods, their value and quantity, and the country of destination. Exporters must ensure that the information provided is up to date and complies with the export regulations of the country from which the goods are being exported.

Verification and approval process

After submitting the export information, the AES system verifies the data for accuracy and compliance with export regulations. The system cross-references the provided information with other relevant databases and export control lists to ensure that the goods being exported do not violate any trade restrictions or licensing requirements. If any discrepancies or red flags are identified, exporters may be contacted by customs authorities for further clarification or documentation.

Receipt of ITN number

Once the export information is verified and approved, the AES system generates the ITN number for the specific shipment. Exporters can receive the ITN number electronically through the AES portal or via email. This unique identifier must be included on all relevant export documentation, such as the commercial invoice, bill of lading, and packing list. It is crucial to ensure that the ITN number is accurately provided to avoid any issues during customs clearance or other export-related procedures.

Consequences of Not Having an ITN Number

Customs penalties and fines

Failure to obtain an ITN number can result in significant consequences, including customs penalties and fines. Customs authorities require the ITN number to verify the export documentation and ensure compliance with export regulations. Without the ITN number, exporters may face penalties and fines for non-compliance with these regulations, which can be a substantial financial burden and could potentially lead to reputational damage.

Delays in shipping and delivery

Not having an ITN number can cause delays in the shipping and delivery of export goods. Customs authorities typically require the ITN number to process and clear export shipments. Without this vital identifier, the goods may be held at the port or border, preventing them from reaching their intended destination on time. This can result in potential disruptions to supply chains, customer dissatisfaction, and additional costs associated with storage and re-routing.

Legal implications for non-compliance

Non-compliance with export regulations by not obtaining an ITN number can have severe legal implications. Depending on the country’s laws, exporting goods without the necessary paperwork and clearances can be considered a criminal offense. In addition to potential criminal charges, fines, and penalties, exporters may face legal action, including civil lawsuits, if their non-compliance results in damages or harm to others. It is essential to prioritize compliance and ensure the proper acquisition of an ITN number to avoid legal complications.

ITN Number vs. AES EIN

Explanation of AES EIN

An AES EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a unique identification number assigned by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to facilitate the reporting of export transactions and comply with tax regulations. It is different from the ITN number, which is assigned by the AES system and used for tracking and monitoring purposes. The AES EIN is primarily used for tax-related purposes and is separate from the ITN number required for export compliance and customs clearance.

Comparison of ITN number and AES EIN

While both the ITN number and AES EIN are important identification numbers in the context of international trade, they serve different purposes. The ITN number is specifically used to track and monitor export shipments, ensure compliance with export regulations, and facilitate customs clearance. On the other hand, the AES EIN is primarily used for tax reporting purposes and compliance with tax regulations. It is essential for exporters to understand the distinction and ensure they have both the ITN number and AES EIN, as required by the respective regulatory authorities.

Frequently Asked Questions about ITN Numbers

What items require an ITN number?

ITN numbers are generally required for most export shipments. The requirement applies to both commercial and non-commercial shipments, regardless of the value or destination of the goods. However, there may be specific exemptions or exceptions based on the nature of the goods, the country of destination, or the type of export transaction. It is important for exporters to consult the relevant export regulations and customs authorities to determine whether their specific shipment requires an ITN number.

Can an ITN number be used for multiple shipments?

No, each export shipment requires its own unique ITN number. The ITN number is specific to a particular transaction and serves as an individual identifier for that shipment. It cannot be reused or transferred to other shipments. Exporters must obtain a new ITN number for each export transaction and ensure that the correct number is provided on all relevant export documentation.

How long is an ITN number valid?

The validity period of an ITN number depends on the country and the specific export transaction. In some cases, the ITN number may be valid for a limited period, typically ranging from 30 to 90 days. This ensures that the export information remains current and up to date. However, there may be instances where the ITN number remains valid for a longer period, especially for certain types of goods or destinations. Exporters should consult the relevant export regulations or customs authorities to determine the specific validity period for their ITN number.

What are the fees associated with obtaining an ITN number?

The fees associated with obtaining an ITN number can vary depending on the country and the specific export transaction. Some countries may impose a flat fee for each ITN number obtained, while others may calculate the fees based on factors such as the value or weight of the goods being exported. Additionally, there may be additional fees for expedited processing or certain types of export transactions. Exporters should consult the customs authorities or relevant government agencies to determine the exact fees and payment process for obtaining an ITN number.

Resources for Obtaining an ITN Number

Contact information for the Automated Export System

For assistance in obtaining an ITN number, exporters can contact the Automated Export System (AES) Help Desk. The AES Help Desk provides support and guidance on using the AES portal, submitting export information, and obtaining the necessary ITN number. The contact information for the AES Help Desk can typically be found on the official website of the country’s customs authority or the relevant government agency responsible for trade and export regulations.

Online guides and tutorials

There are several online guides and tutorials available that provide detailed information on the process of obtaining an ITN number. These resources offer step-by-step instructions, explanations of export regulations, and tips for ensuring compliance. They can be helpful for exporters who are new to the international trade process or who need additional guidance on navigating the requirements for obtaining an ITN number.

Professional consulting services

For complex export transactions or situations where exporters require expert advice and support, professional consulting services specializing in international trade and customs regulations can provide valuable assistance. These consulting firms have in-depth knowledge and experience in navigating export requirements, obtaining ITN numbers, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations. Engaging the services of such firms can help exporters streamline their export activities and minimize the risk of non-compliance or delays.


In conclusion, an ITN number is a unique identifier assigned to export shipments and is vital for ensuring compliance with export regulations, facilitating customs clearance, and preventing illegal activities. Obtaining an ITN number requires exporters to provide their identification information, details of the export shipment, demonstrate knowledge of export regulations, and pay applicable fees. The process involves accessing the AES, submitting export information, and receiving the ITN number after verification and approval. Failing to obtain an ITN number can result in customs penalties, delays in shipping, and potential legal consequences. It is important to understand the distinction between an ITN number and AES EIN, as well as to comply with the requirements to avoid complications. Resources such as the AES Help Desk, online guides, tutorials, and professional consulting services are available to assist exporters in obtaining an ITN number. By prioritizing compliance with export regulations and ensuring the proper acquisition of an ITN number, exporters can navigate international trade successfully and contribute to the smooth flow of goods across borders.


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