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Export Control

Export control is a federal government mandate designed to ensure that each employee (faculty, students, staff) comply with regulations that restrict the export of goods, technology and related technical information to countries that have been identified as a threat to US homeland security or economic status. Export control regulations require license or other agency approval prior to the release of controlled technology, data, software and information to foreign nationals within or outside the United States. 

Higher education institutions are responsible for complying with these regulations and ensuring that their research activities do not violate export control laws. This may involve obtaining licenses or authorizations for certain activities, implementing policies and procedures to ensure compliance, and providing training and guidance to faculty, staff, and students.

The U.S. Government aggressively regulates, monitors, and in some cases, restricts the export of certain information, items and technologies deemed to be critical to the interests of national security, economy and/or foreign policy.

In general, restrictions apply to information, items, technologies or services that include:

  • Military or “dual use” items
  • Chemical/biologics weapons
  • Encryption technology & related software (including Duo)
  • Funding, information, services or items provided to embargoed countries

In addition to activities involving military items or weapons it is critical to note that many normal, everyday university activities are subject to Export Controls, including:

  • Traveling overseas on University business (e.g., conferences, conducting field work, international symposia)
  • Research collaborations with foreign nationals (researchers or students here or abroad)
  • Visits or tours of research facilities by foreign nationals
  • Sponsoring research (e.g., via a subcontract) to an embargoed or sanctioned country
  • Providing professional services (e.g., consulting) here or abroad
  • Ship items out of the U.S. (including project deliverables)

Examples of research activities that are considered exports and would be subject to Export Controls include:

  • Shipment of items out of the U.S.
  • Written or oral communications
  • Electronic or digital transmissions
  • Hand Carrying items out of the country
  • Providing visual inspections or tours of facilities
  • The use or application of a controlled service or technology on behalf of or for the benefit of a foreign person or entity

The Fundamental Research Exclusion applies to any basic or applied research in science or engineering where the resulting information is ordinarily published and broadly shared in the scientific community. Research performed as Fundamental Research is not subject to Export Controls and no licenses are required to release or transfer information to a foreign national in the U.S. or abroad. It is important to note that the fundamental research exclusion only covers the “results” of research. It does not cover actual materials, items or technologies involved in or resulting from the research. Export Controls may still apply to these items.

For research to qualify as Fundamental Research all of the following must be true:

  • There can be no restrictions on publication;
  • There can be no access or dissemination restrictions;
  • The research must take place at an accredited institution in the U.S.
There are 3 primary federal agencies that oversee and encforce Export Controls:

The Department of State is responsible for the export and temporary import of defense articles and services governed by the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).  ITAR implements the AECA and regulates technologies, products and information that are inherently military in nature.  Regulated defense articles and controlled data are listed in the U.S. Munitions List.

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) implements U.S. Government certain sanctions against Level 3 & 4 countries pursuant to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), either unilaterally or to implement United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

Failure to comply with Export Controls can result in severe criminal and monetary fines to both the individual researcher and the University. Fines of up to $1 million dollars per violation and prison sentences of up to 10-20 years per violation are possible.


Export Controls apply to all international University activities not just to shipping equipment overseas. If your research includes international activities, an export control assessment will need to be done to determine if an export license(s) are needed. Assistance is available to help you determine your export control compliance requirements. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies & Research at if you believe your research may be subject to Export Controls.

Helpful Links:

Travel Advisories
Guidance on Traveling with Laptops & Other Devices (from UCSF)
Training: Export Control Basics (from OSU)
Export Control Decision Tree
CSUSM IITS Policy on Export Control
CSUSM Travel Updates & Guidelines
CSUSM Risk Management