Export Control


Frequently Asked Questions

The term “Export Controls” refers collectively to the body of U.S. laws and regulations that govern the transfer of controlled items or information to foreign nationals or foreign entities. They cover:

  • Transfers of controlled information, including technical data, to persons and entities outside the United States;
  • Shipment of controlled physical items, such as scientific equipment, that require export licenses from the U.S. to a foreign country; and
  • Verbal, written, electronic, and/or visual disclosures of controlled scientific and technical information related to export controlled items to foreign nationals (“deemed exports”) in the United States.

Any item that is sent from the United States to a foreign destination is an export. How an item is transported outside of the U.S. does not matter. In addition, technology, know how, and non-encryption source code that is released to foreign national within the U.S. is “deemed” to be an export to the country where the person is a resident or citizen and could be subject to licensing requirements. This is what is commonly known as the “deemed export” rule.

Some examples of exports include:

  • Items sent by regular mail or hand-carried on an airplane
  • Design plans, blue prints, schematics sent via fax to a foreign destination
  • Software uploaded or downloaded from an internet site
  • Technology transmitted via e-mail or during a telephone conversation.

There are three main agencies responsible for regulating the export control laws:

  • S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)
  • S. Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC)
  • S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

Other agencies which also have jurisdiction over certain items and/or activities subject to export controls the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), just to name a few.

The Export Administration Regulations, created and enforced by the BIS for regulating the export control laws. This information is identified using Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCN) and export requirements are found on the Commerce Control List (CCL) Country Chart. EAR regulates the export of “dual use” items; technology designed for commercial purposes and with potential military applications, such as computers, software, aircraft, and pathogens, as well the reexport of items.

EAR regulations may affect many activities at UNCG from showing a foreign national student hoe to operate a high-energy laser to taking a laptop to a restricted country.

Refers to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (DDTC, U.S. Department of State) of the United States Department of State which controls the export of “defense articles and defense services. The U.S. Munitions List (USML) categorizes items that are under the jurisdiction of the ITAR. Items on the USML are designed for military purposes.

Office of Foreign Asset Control (U.S. Treasury Department) of the United States Department of Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries, terrorists, and those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Yes, export control regulations apply to all international activities regardless of location.

A deemed export is the release of technology or information to a foreign national within the U.S., including students, post-docs, faculty, or visiting scientists. Technology is “released” for export when it is available to foreign nationals for visual inspection (such as reading technical specifications, plans, blueprints, etc.); when technology is exchanged orally; or when technology is made available by practice or application under the guidance of persons with knowledge of the technology.

For example, the transfer of infrared camera technology to an Iranian national in the U.S. is regulated as if the transfer of the technology was made to the Iranian national in Iran. The transfer is thus “deemed” to be to Iran even though all activities take place in the U.S. Regardless of the method used for the transfer, the transaction is considered an export for export control purposes.

A Foreign National is any person who is NOT:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident alien (Green Card Holders)
  • Asylee
  • Refugee
  • Temporary resident under amnesty provisions

The following are considered foreign nationals or foreign persons:

  • Foreign corporation, business association, partnership entity or group not incorporated in the U.S.
  • Person in the US in non-immigrant status (i.e. international students, visiting scholars or any person on visa types: H-1B, H-1B1. H-3, L-1, J-1, F-1, L-1, O-1 ,etc.)

Yes, in particular to international collaborations; however, most unfunded research will qualify for an exclusion so long as the research is planned to be published and there are no restrictions on publication.

If you are planning on having a foreign national who is not a UW faculty, staff, or enrolled student visit campus, you should notify UW’s Export Control Officer with information on who will be visiting and which facilities they will visit.  The Export Control Officer can screen visitors and their associated entity, e.g. employer, to ensure they are not Restricted or Denied Parties. In addition, they can advise on any concerns related to existing Technology Control Plans as it relates to the screened visitors.

Several agencies of the U.S. government have established lists of Denied Persons or Restricted Parties which identify individuals or entities with whom the university and its employees may be prohibited by law, or require a license, to export to or engage in business transactions. These include the Denied Persons List, Entity List, and Unverified List (Department of Commerce), the Debarred Parties Lists (Department of State), and the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (Department of Treasury).

UW’s Export Control Officer can screen individuals and entities to ensure they are not Restricted or Denied Parties.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions or embargoes against specific foreign countries, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, and those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Sanctions are prohibitions on transactions (e.g., financial exchanges, providing or receiving services of value) with designated countries, entities or individuals.

It is important to note the OFAC sanctions program may prohibit conducting surveys of persons in sanctioned countries or presenting at conferences.

The applicable sanctions vary depending on the country involved and are subject to change. The complete and updated list of countries included in the sanctions program may be viewed at the following website:


ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and the EAR (Export Administration Regulations in the DOC) are export control regulations designed to restrict the release of certain materials, devices, and technical information outside of the United States. Release of this information is granted by obtaining an export license from the appropriate licensing agency if no exclusions or exemptions apply.

In order to decide if an export license is needed from the DOC, you must determine if the item you intend to export has a specific Export Control Classification Number (ECCN). For goods and technology listed on the EAR’s Commerce Control List (CCL), a license may be required for export, depending on the destination country, receiving party, and end use (unless an exclusion or exemption applies).

The United States Munitions List (USML) consists of 21 categories of articles (including associated components, systems, subsystems parts, accessories, and attachments), services, and related technical data that are designated as defense or space-related. Items on the USML are ITAR controlled and subject to the jurisdiction of the US Department of State. Use of USML defense articles do not qualify for an exclusion.

ECCNs are five character alpha-numeric designations used on the Commerce Control List (CCL) to identify items for export control purposes. An ECCN categorizes items based on the nature of the product, i.e. type of commodity, software, or technology and its respective technical parameters.

The CCL categorizes these covered items into 10 broad categories:

  • Nuclear Materials, Facilities and Equipment, and Miscellaneous
  • Materials, Chemicals, Microorganisms, and Toxins
  • Materials Processing
  • Electronics
  • Computers
  • Telecommunications and Information Security
  • Lasers and Sensors
  • Navigation and Avionics
  • Marine
  • Propulsion Systems, Space Vehicles, and Related Equipment

The USML categorizes these covered items into 21 broad categories:

  • Firearms
  • Artillery projectors and armaments
  • Ammunition
  • Launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, and mines
  • Explosives, propellants, incendiary agents, and their constituents
  • Vessels of war and special naval equipment
  • Tanks and military vehicles
  • Aircraft and associated equipment
  • Military training equipment
  • Protective personnel equipment
  • Military electronics
  • Fire control, range finder, optical and guidance and control equipment
  • Auxiliary military equipment
  • Toxicological agents and associated equipment
  • Spacecraft systems and associated equipment
  • Nuclear weapons, design, and testing equipment
  • Classified articles, technical data and defense services not otherwise enumerated
  • Directed energy weapons
  • Submersible vessels, oceanographic and associated equipment
  • Miscellaneous articles not listed above with substantial military applicability and which were designed or modified for military purposes

The regulations include an additional “catch-all” category, the EAR99, which covers any good or technology that is subject to the EAR, but that is not on the CCL. If your item falls under U.S. Department of Commerce jurisdiction and is not listed on the CCL, it is designated as EAR99. EAR99 items generally consist of low-technology or consumer goods and do not require a license in many situations. If your proposed export of an EAR99 item is to an embargoed country, to an end-user of concern, or in support of a prohibited end-use, you may be required to obtain a license.

Dual use items and technologies or associated technical data are primarily commercial in nature but also have military or proliferation applications. The term Dual Use is used to distinguish the types of items covered solely by the EAR on the Commerce Control List (CCL) from those that are covered by both the CCL and regulations of other U.S. government departments and agencies with export licensing responsibilities, e.g. ITAR’s USML. If items are subject to both the EAR and ITAR, the ITAR takes precedence.

Defense articles are any item or technical data designated on the United States Munitions List (USML), which includes all items, data and services specifically designed, developed, configured, adapted, or modified for a military application, that do not have predominant civil applications, and that do not have performance equivalent to those of an article or service used for civil applications. The term includes technical data recorded or stored in any physical form, models, mockups or other items that reveal technical data directly relating to items in the USML. It does not include basic marketing information on function or purpose or general system descriptions.

A defense service is “The furnishing of assistance (including training) to foreign persons, whether in the United States or abroad in the design, development, engineering, manufacture, production, assembly, testing, repair, maintenance, modification, operation, demilitarization, destruction, processing or use of defense articles;” or “The furnishing to foreign persons of any technical data controlled [in the USML] whether in the United States or abroad;” or ”Military training of any foreign military forces, regular or irregular, in the use of defense articles” including formal or informal instruction of foreign persons in the United States or abroad by correspondence courses, technical, educational, or information publications and media of all kinds, training aid, orientation, training exercise, and military advice.

Assuming that a license is required because the technology does not qualify for treatment under EAR99 and no license exception is available, you must apply for an export license under the “deemed export” rule when both of the following conditions are met: (1) you intend to transfer controlled technologies to foreign nationals in the United States; and (2) transfer of the same technology to the foreign national’s home country would require an export license. Contact the UW’s Export Control Officer as soon as possible to determine need for a license or help in identifying the appropriate license exception.

A TCP documents specific procedures taken to safeguard and control access to information or items that are export restricted. A TCP will outline what the restricted information/item is, who will have access to it, how access will be monitored and controlled, how the information/item will be physically and electronically stored, what information about it can be shared or presented and what will be done with the information/item once the project is complete.

The terms do not refer to the controlled equipment/commodity itself, or to the type of information contained in publicly available user manuals or marketing materials. Rather, the terms “technology” and “technical data” mean specific information necessary for the “development”, “production”, or “use” of a commodity, and usually takes the form of blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, diagrams, models, formulae, tables, engineering specifications, and documentation. The “deemed export” rules apply to the transfer of such technical information to foreign nationals inside the U.S.

The routine “use” of controlled equipment by foreign nationals (e.g., using it in the ordinary way specified in the user manual, in such a manner that does not disclose technical information about the equipment beyond what is publicly available), does not require a license. However, a license may be required if a foreign national is “using” the equipment in such a way as to access technical information beyond what is publicly available (for example, accessing the source code of software or modifying a piece of equipment in such a way as to gain non-publicly available technical information about its design).

It depends on the equipment. Use of a defense article by foreign nationals is prohibited, unless a license is obtained prior to “use.”

Use of EAR/CCL items equipment) by a foreign national in the U.S. is not controlled by the export regulations. In the U.S., any person (including foreign nationals) may purchase export-controlled commodities and the “deemed” export rule only applies to technical information about the controlled commodity. As such, while the use of equipment inside the U.S. is not controlled, the transfer of technical information relating to the use (i.e., operation, installation, maintenance, repair, overhaul, and refurbishing) of equipment may be controlled in certain circumstances. For example, if the manufacturer of the equipment provided the University some confidential, proprietary information about the design or manufacture of the equipment, then the University might need a “deemed” export license to provide such proprietary information to a foreign national, especially if shipment of the item to the home country of the foreign national would require an export license.

Research is not subject to export controls if it qualifies for at least one of three exclusions:

  • Fundamental Research Exclusions
    • The Fundamental Research Exclusion is a broad-based general legal exclusion that helps to protect technical information (but not tangible items) involved in research from export controls. It is defined as basic and applied research in science and engineering conducted at accredited U.S. institutions of higher education where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community. Such research can be distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary reasons or specific national security reasons. Research qualifying as “fundamental research” is not subject to export controls.

      University research will not qualify as fundamental research if the university or researcher accepts any restrictions on the publication of the information resulting from the research, other than limited prepublication reviews by research sponsors to prevent inadvertent divulging of proprietary information provided to the researcher by sponsor or to insure that publication will not compromise patent rights of the sponsor. There is no general fundamental research exclusion that applies to defense articles (as opposed to technical data) under the ITAR; however, there are exclusions that apply to specific articles under certain circumstances.

      Fundamental research permits U.S. universities to allow foreign members of their communities (e.g., students, faculty, and visitors) to participate in research projects involving non-ITAR export-controlled technical information on campus in the U.S. without a deemed export license. Further, technical information resulting from fundamental research may be shared with foreign colleagues

  • Public Domain Exclusions
    • The Public Domain Exclusion applies to information that is published and that is generally accessible or available to the public: (1) through sales at newsstands and bookstores; (2) through subscriptions which are available without restriction to any individual who desires to obtain or purchase the published information; (3) through second class mailing privileges granted by the U.S. Government; (4) at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents; (5) through patents available at any patent office; (6) through unlimited distribution at a conference, meeting, seminar, trade show or exhibition, generally accessible to the public, in the United States; (7) through public release (i.e., unlimited distribution) in any form (e.g., not necessarily in published form) after approval by the cognizant U.S. government department or agency; and (8) through fundamental research in science and engineering at accredited institutions of higher learning in the U.S. where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community.

      ITAR/USML technical information already in the public domain qualifies for the Public Domain exclusion as long as it meets the requirements stipulated above.

  • Educational Information Exclusions
    • Educational Information Exclusion covers general science, math or engineering commonly taught in courses listed in catalogues and associated teaching laboratories of academic institutions in the U.S. even if the information concerns EAR/CCL controlled commodities or items. ITAR/USML items do not qualify for the Educational Exclusion, as instruction is a “defense service.”

No, this kind of review, even when requested, is considered a courtesy rather than a restriction. If the award required “review and approval” it is considered a restriction as this language implies the potential of denying approval to publish or requiring changes to the report, presentation or article prior to publication. A publication approval requirement would destroy the fundamental research exclusion.

If the U.S. Government funds research and specific controls are agreed on to protect information resulting from the research, then information resulting from the project will not be considered fundamental research. Such controls are usually contained in contractual clauses. Examples of “specific controls” include requirements for prepublication review by the Government, with right to withhold permission for publication; restrictions on prepublication dissemination of information to non-U.S. citizens or other categories of persons; or restrictions on participation of non-U.S. citizens or other categories of persons in the research.

I have been invited to give a paper at a prestigious international scientific conference on a subject listed as requiring a license under the EAR to all countries, except Canada. Do I need a license to give my paper?

No. Release of information at an open conference and information that has been released at an open conference is not subject to the EAR. To qualify as an “open” conference, attendees must be permitted to take notes or otherwise make a personal record (although not necessarily a recording). If note taking or the making of personal records is altogether prohibited, the conference would not be considered “open”.

No. Release of information by instruction in catalog courses and associated teaching laboratories of academic institutions is not subject to the EAR.

Export controls only apply to a grant or contract that involves technology listed in either the ITAR/USML or the EAR/CCL and:

  • The research does not qualify for an exclusion; or
  • There are physical exports, or
  • There is foreign travel with controlled equipment, travel to a sanctioned country, or
  • Specific controls are agreed on to protect information resulting from the research (typically found in problematic clauses) including access, publication, or participation restrictions, or
  • Defense articles or associated technical information are used in the research.

For researchers who desire to have unrestricted academic freedom not subject to export controls, it is important to preserve the publicly available and public domain exclusions/protections provided by the government, including that afforded to fundamental research. Without exclusions, EAR or ITAR’s licensing requirements may apply to information (technology or technical data) concerning controlled commodities or items. Unless a license exclusion applies, a “deemed export” license is required before information is conveyed (even visually thorough observation) to foreign students, researchers, staff, or visitors on campus, and an actual export license would be required before information is conveyed abroad to anyone.

  • Know your sponsor and ask them if the research will have access, participation, publication/dissemination restrictions.
  • Assure that the research qualifies for an Exclusion and document your findings with the Export Control Officer.
  • Determine if the technology is listed in the EAR/CCL or the ITAR/USML. Use of USML defense articles do not qualify for an exclusion.
  • Be cautious when conducting DoD Sponsored research. Ensure the research will qualify for an exclusion by not using defense articles or technical data. Ask the Sponsor if the funding is 6.1 (basic) or 6.2 (applied) or some other type (6.3, 6.4, etc.).
  • Ensure that no defense articles or technical data are involved in the research.
  • Assure that all technical data about export-controlled commodities qualify as “publicly available” (e.g., publish early and often).
  • Do not accept publication controls or access/dissemination restrictions hidden in a contract (such as approval requirements for use of foreign nationals). Negotiate such restrictions out of the agreement.
  • Do not enter into ‘secrecy agreements’ or otherwise agree to withhold results in research projects conducted at the University or that involve University facilities, students, or staff.
  • Do not accept proprietary information from another that is marked “Export Controlled.” Return to the manufacturer any materials they provide to you about export-controlled equipment that is marked “Confidential.” Review any Confidentiality/Non-Disclosure Agreements to insure that you are not assuming the burden of restricting dissemination based on citizenship status or securing licenses.

The following are examples of the types of university activities that may trigger the need for an export license or deemed export license:

  • International shipments of equipment or data
  • Research involving export controlled items or information (e.g., defense items or services, satellites, WMD, non-mass market encryption)
  • Involving foreign nationals in research that does not qualify for an exclusion
  • Presenting unpublished information not protected under an exclusion
  • Travel or field work in a sanctioned / embargoed country
  • Providing financial support to a sanctioned / embargoed country
  • Shipping or hand carrying internationally any controlled pathogens, toxins, viruses, bacteria, fungi, select agents, or chemicals
  • Use of any ITAR/USML defense article or associated technical data

Export licenses are requested on behalf of a researcher by the Research and Economic Development Division. Contact the Export Control Officer to submit a license request to the appropriate regulatory body on your behalf. It is important to note that obtaining an export license may take several months and there is no guarantee that the U.S. government will approve a license request. Remember – no transfer of information can occur until a license is in place so allow adequate time to obtain a license!

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