What are Export Controls?

Export controls are the set of regulations governing the shipment of goods abroad, as well as the dissemination of information to non-U.S. citizens both abroad and within the U.S. In an academic setting, export controls regulate who you can collaborate with on research, what students can work on your research, and where you can travel abroad and what you may take with you when you do.

More than merely regulating how to ship items out of the country, it is important to know the basics of export control as unexpected activities can lead to export control violations. For example, having an ITAR controlled infrared camera unlocked in a lab is a potential violation. Another is teaching non-introductory level STEM courses to nationals from certain sanctioned countries. Both of these potential violations can occur without leaving campus and thus demonstrate the importance of learning the regulations and policy. Please browse the links below to learn more about the importance of export control and how to comply with AU policy regarding export control. 

American University affiliates can access export controls training on the CITI website.

New users should register an account and affiliate with American University. For export controls, you only need to select Question 4 - "US Export Control" and decline the others. If you have already taken a CITI course for other purposes, you can add the export controls module by using the "Add Course or Update Learner Groups" and add Question 4 to the learner profile.

In an academic setting, there are several common activities that can potentially trigger export controls:

Questions to Ask Before International Travel

Where are you going?
For most travel there is no need to obtain an export license or permission, however there are some countries to which travel is restricted due to sanctions and embargoes (such as Cuba).

What are you bringing with you?

Items - While for most travel it is fine to bring low-tech items and electronics such as laptops, it is still your responsibility to ensure that your destination is not covered by sanctions and thus requires an export license, even for commonplace items. As a rule of thumb, you should assume that the contents of your laptop will be revealed to the government whose airport you land in, which leads to the next point.

Research - For any research covered by the Fundamental Research Exception or for research in the Public Domain, there is no need to obtain an export license. However for any restricted research that may be covered by export controls, the PI should check to determine whether an export license is needed.
What will you be doing?

Depending on where you are going, there may also be restrictions on what you can do abroad to ensure that you are not exporting controlled information or providing a service to a sanctioned entity.

With whom will you be interacting?
There are certain entities, individuals and institutions, that are barred from receiving exports (any good or service). It is your responsibility to check that any entity you will be interacting with is not on the Denied entity List.

More information: Risk Management
                         International Policy Procedures

Restricted Research and Export Control Consequences

When research is restricted by the sponsor, it is no longer considered protected by the fundamental research exception and becomes subject to export controls. As such, approval must be granted to any non-U.S. student wishing to work on the research. The process of receiving a license is a long process and so this is important to consider when determining whether to accept restrictions on your research.

International Students & Visitors

International Students
When considering international students for research assistant positions, it is important to consider whether or not the research has restrictions imposed by export control laws. While most research will not require approval from the export control regimes, it is still the responsibility of the PI to ensure compliance and verify whether or not an export license is needed and conduct due diligence for potential OFAC violations.

International Visitors
While American University prides itself on hosting a large variety of international visitors and generally such visits do not concern export controls, it is still important to know when such controls may be triggered. When hosting international visitors on campus it is important to ensure that any ITAR controlled equipment is not accessible to them. Further it is your responsibility to ensure that you are not supplying a good or service to any sanctioned person or entity when hosting such visitors.

Collaborating & Working With International Researchers

When collaborating with a foreign person or entity, whether in or outside of the U.S., export control regulations still apply. This includes sending controlled information abroad or having ITAR controlled equipment in a lab with foreign post

For questions about hiring international postdocs, faculty, staff, and students, contact: Office of Risk Management

International Traffic in Arms Regulation - Administered by the Department of State, this set of regulations handles military use equipment and services, including items listed on the United States Munitions List.

Export Administration Regulations - Administered by the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, this set of regulations handles items considered to be "dual-use", meaning potential military and civilian uses as well as all commercial goods.

Office of Foreign Asset Control
- Administered by the Department of the Treasury, this office administers the boycotts and sanctions programs that the United States currently imposes. This limits who one can do business with or share research with both abroad and within the U.S. 

In recent years, the government has increased its enforcement of export controls with regards to universities as focus has intensified over national security. As such there have been cases where professors and/or the university have been prosecuted for violations of these export controls. Such violations carry civil and criminal penalties which can reach up to $1,000,000 and 10 years in prison per violation.

Commerce Control List - This is a list of all items covered under the EAR requiring an export license. 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 consumer goods and do not require a license in many situations. However, if you plan to export an EAR99 item 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.

Deemed Export - The disclosure of controlled technological data, technology, or source code, in the U.S. or abroad to a non-U.S. person.

Defense Article/Service - providing access to a defense article, furnishing technical assistance or training related to a defense article, exporting or importing goods and services to sanctioned countries, entities, or individuals, and foreign military training, including training using public domain information.

Denied Persons List - The official list published by BIS for individuals and entities that have been denied export privileges and with whom exports (including deemed exports) are prohibited.

Dual Use - Items that have both a civilian and potential military use. Controlled under the EAR.

Educational Information Exclusion - General science, math, and engineering as well as information conveyed in courses listed in the course catalogues are not subject to export controls under a regulatory exclusion.

Export - Exports include: 1) Physical exports: shipping or hand carrying a tangible item outside of the U.S. or re-exporting from one foreign country to another or to the U.S.; 2) Deemed exports: Disclosing controlled technological data, technology, or source code, in the U.S. or abroad to a non-U.S. person, or 3) Prohibited services: providing access to a defense article, furnishing technical assistance or training related to a defense article, exporting or importing goods and services to sanctioned countries, entities, or individuals, and foreign military training, including training using public domain information.

Foreign Person - All non-U.S. persons, including temporary visa holders (B, H1-B, J-1, F-1), and entities organized under foreign laws.

Fundamental Research - Basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.

License - Permission granted by one of the export control regulating agencies to engage in a specified export.

Public Domain Information Exclusion - Information that is freely available through newspapers and libraries, presented at publicly available conferences and trade shows, or is on websites accessible to the public for free and without a login required is not subject to export controls under a regulatory exclusion.

Specifically Designated Nationals - The list of individuals and entities currently covered by U.S. sanctions and with whom certain or all dealings may be prohibited. Administered by OFAC.

Use - For the purpose of deemed exports to foreign nationals, there is a difference in the term 'use' to determine whether an export has occurred. Under ITAR, mere access to an export controlled item by a foreign national is considered an export of that item to that individual's country. Thus, ITAR controlled items are advised to be locked up when not in use to prevent an inadvertent export. Under EAR, the 'use' of an export controlled item only occurs when the foreign national meets all six criteria: Operation, installation, maintenance, repair, overhauling, and refurbishing.

U.S. Person - A U.S. citizen, permanent resident, protected political asylee/refugee, or entity organized under U.S. laws.