The internal transaction number (ITN) is a 14-digit number that corresponds to an export transaction in the Automated Export System. It serves as proof that an exporter met his or her legal obligation to inform the U.S. government about the details of an export shipment. An ITN must be obtained for all high-value overseas shipments (over $2,500) as well as in various other circumstances.
You could think of the ITN as a confirmation number or a receipt number from AES, except that government agencies and regulars in the industry often refer to it instead as the “proof of filing citation.”
The ITN, automatically generated by AES upon submission, is used by the Census Bureau and by Customs and Border Protection (and indirectly by other agencies). The Census Bureau aggregates each shipment identified by an ITN into U.S. export statistics. Customs and Border Protection uses the number to look up the details of outbound shipments, then makes sure everything is correct and in compliance with regulations.
If the exporter did not obtain an ITN, such as for a shipment valued over $2,500 sent via the United States Postal Service, CBP may turn back the package or even issue a fine. So if you are sending something overseas above this value, or are exporting a vehicle, be sure to file for the ITN to ensure safe passage of your export. Note that most shipments to Canada, with main exception of vehicles, are exempt from needing an ITN number. For a full list of exemptions across all exports see our list here.