Research Services

Export Control Laws

Export control laws are federal laws and regulations that regulate the "export" of strategically important commodities (articles, materials, or supplies), software and technology (specific information necessary for the development, production, or use of a product) to foreign persons.  The exports are regulated for reasons of national security and trade protection.  The context is what is being exported, to whom and for what use.  When an export falls under these laws, a license is required before the export can occur.

There are 3 federal agencies involved with export control laws:

  • Department of State: Responsible for the "International Traffic in Arms Regulations" (ITAR) for military technologies.  The list of regulated defense articles, services and related technical data is the U.S. Munitions List.
  • Department of Commerce: Responsible for the "Export Administration Regulations" (EAR) for "dual use" technologies (i.e., items intended for civilian applications but capable of being used for military or strategic applications).  The list of regulated dual use items is the Commodity Control List. (See also the Country Chart)
  • Department of Treasury/Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC): Responsible for enforcing sanctions against countries subject to embargo, boycott or trade sanctions.  Has list of embargoed countries (Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Sudan), sanctioned countries and "specially designated nationals".

An export is a transfer to a foreign person in the U.S. or abroad of controlled items (commodities, software, technology and services).  A transfer can be actual shipment outside the U.S., hand carrying items out of the country, electronic or digital transmission, visual inspection inside or outside the U.S., written or oral disclosure, actual use or application on behalf of or for the benefit of a foreign person. A "deemed export" is the release or transmission of controlled technology or information to foreign persons within the U.S.

Foreign persons are (1) persons who are not U.S. citizens, permanent residents aliens of the U.S. (i.e., do not hold a green card) or refugees/persons granted asylum; (2) any foreign government; or (3) any foreign corporation or organization that is not incorporated or organized to do business in the U.S.

Export control laws may apply to research involving items controlled under EA and/or ITAR.  If research involves controlled items, the University may be required to obtain prior federal approval before allowing foreign nationals to participate in research, partnering with a foreign entity, or sharing results with foreign nationals.  This applies regardless of whether and how the research is funded.  There are general exceptions to the laws that apply to most on-campus research or educational activities.  For example, there is an exception for basic and applied research in science and engineering the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community (fundamental research).

Some of the Situations that may raise export control issues:

  • Shipping or carrying tangible items (including University-owned laptops or other electronic devices) out of the U.S.;
  • Research collaborations with foreign nationals, including permitting foreign nationals to visit or work in on-campus laboratories;
  • Accepting contract provisions that prohibit publication, state that export controlled information or materials are being provided or developed or prohibit the participation of foreign nationals in the research;
  • Sharing, shipping, transmitting or transferring encryption software in source code or object code (including travel outside the country with such software).

Questions or Comments

Contact the Research Compliance Office with any comments or questions.

Joe Knezetic
Director of Research & Compliance