What are Export Control Laws?
U.S. laws that regulate the distribution to foreign nationals and foreign countries of strategically important technology, services, and information for reasons of foreign policy and national security. Export control laws apply to all activities – not just sponsored research projects.
The following U.S. government agencies determine the policies regarding export control:
- The Department of Commerce's Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
- Control items that have both commercial and potential military use.
- The Department of State's International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
- The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
How can Export Controls affect my research?
There are several scenarios that may require an export license including, but not limited to:
- A physical transfer/disclosure of an item outside the U.S.
- Any transfer/disclosure of a controlled item or information within the U.S. to a foreign national
- Participation of foreign national faculty, staff, or students in affected research
- Presentation/discussion of previously unpublished research at conferences or meetings where foreign national scholars may be in attendance
- Research collaborations with foreign nationals and technical exchange programs
- Transfers of research equipment abroad
- Visits to your lab by foreign national scholars
To learn more, visit the Licenses and Exclusions page.
Are there exclusions from Export Control laws?
Yes, there are several exclusions, and two that are particularly relevant to academic research: the fundamental research exclusion and the public domain exclusion. These exclusions can be lost, however, if researchers sign side agreements (including material transfer and non-disclosure agreements) that contain publication restrictions or restrictions on who can participate in the research. It is crucial that you not sign any such agreements–or any agreements that mention export controls–on your own. To learn more, visit the Licenses and Exclusions page.
What happens if Export Control laws are violated?
The consequences of noncompliance are very serious for both the university and the researcher. There can be monetary fines as well as prison sentences for certain offenses.
What kinds of projects raise Export Control concerns?
Any research activity may be subject to export controls if it involves the actual export or “deemed” export of any goods, technology, or related technical data that is either:
- “Dual-use” (commercial in nature with possible military application); or
- Inherently military in nature
Research in the following areas can frequently require export control:
Biomedical research with lasers
Research with encrypted software
Research with controlled chemicals, biological agents, and toxins
In addition, any of the following will raise export control questions for your project:
- Sponsor restrictions on the participation of foreign nationals in the research
- Sponsor restrictions on the publication or disclosure of the research results
- Indications from the sponsor or others that export-controlled information or technology will be furnished for use in the research
- The physical export of controlled goods or technology is expected
- Biomedical research with lasers
- Research with encrypted software
- Research with controlled chemicals, biological agents, and toxins
Helpful Questions to Consider:
- What is the nationality of researchers INCLUDING professors and research assistants (grad students/post-docs)?
- Will the results be publicly available?
- Will there be restrictions on publications, access, dissemination or proprietary information?
- Will I be receiving any restricted information?
- Is the research going overseas to a foreign company, government or individual
- What do the end-users intend to do with the research results?
As a principal investigator (PI), what do I need to do?
The PI has the best understanding of the research and should know whether particular technology, data, or information involved is subject to export control regulations. The PI is responsible for:
- Learning about export controls by completing the online CITI training in Export Control. You don’t have to become an expert, but you need to have a fundamental understanding of the subject to be able to know when to raise questions and alert the University to a possible export controls issue.
- Carefully reviewing the information on export controls provided on this web site. Additional training on export controls is provided by the Office of Research Integrity and is available to PIs, their departments, and their departmental administrators.
- Determining whether any export control issues may be presented prior to beginning any research.
- Contacting David Deardorff, Interim Director of Research Integrity, at 423-425-4443 or [email protected] for help with determining whether any export control restrictions may apply to the research.
- Notifying the Office of Research Integrity prior to implementing any changes that may give rise to the application of export controls, such as a change in the scope of work or the addition of new staff to the project after work on the project has begun.
- Cooperating fully with the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs personnel to determine if any export control issues are identified at the contract or grant proposal stage.
- Adhering strictly to any applicable restrictions and cooperating fully with the university’s efforts to monitor compliance if it is determined that export controls apply to the project.
Where can I get help?
Any time you have a question about the application of export controls to any stage of a specific research project, contact David Deardorff at 423-425-4443 or [email protected].