Export Controls

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International Travel Briefing

When traveling abroad, taking certain items, providing certain services or meeting with certain people can present export control concerns for University of Memphis (UM) faculty, staff, students and postdoctoral scholars ("UM affiliates"). This page provides us with guidance on how to avoid running afoul of the export control laws when travelling internationally. Travel to most countries does not present an export control concern. However, travel to some countries heightens concern. These concerns may be easily managed, provided we create and maintain records that show we found the travel to be exempt from existing regulations. In some cases, an export control license is required for travel. It is crucial that we obtain the necessary license prior to the trip. Violations of export control laws carry severe civil and criminal penalties.

Applicable Regulations

When traveling internationally, UM affiliates need to be familiar with export control regulations and policies. Specifically, UM affiliates need to determine whether the following regulations apply to them:

U.S. Department of Commerce's Export Administration Regulations (EAR) These regulations govern hardware, materials, equipment, software, technology and technical data that have both civilian and inherent military or defense application. Controlled items are identified on the Commerce Control List (CCL). EAR controls are specific and based on the combination of 1) destination, 2) end use, and 3) item specifications and capabilities.

U.S. Department of State's International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) These regulations govern 1) defense articles, including hardware, materials, equipment, software, technology and technical data specifically designed or modified for defense or military application without civil performance or use equivalent; and 2) defense activities, including disclosing ITAR technical data (or data related to a defense article) to foreign nationals, or disclosing technical data (even if not controlled or in the public domain) to a foreign national or related organization affiliated with a military purpose.

U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) These regulations restrict transactions with a specified list of embargoed countries and with certain "specifically designated nationals." For the purposes of UM affiliates, restrictions that are most likely to affect UM exports include travel to Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan.

See Sanctions Program and Country Summaries and the EAR's Part 746 embargoes pages for more specific information.

Evaluating Whether the Regulations Apply to You

In evaluating whether any of the regulations apply to your travel, you need to consider:

Whether you plan to take any controlled items or data with you; the most common items that present export control issues are laptops, jump drives, handheld GPS devices, blueprints or schematics, encryption products and prototypes or samples that happen to be portable;

  • Whether you plan to send or deliver any controlled items or data to non-US persons;
  • Whether your laptop or other storage device you are taking out of the country has controlled data or information stored on it;
  • Whether the country to which you are traveling has any OFAC restrictions;
  • Whether you will be doing business (including engaging in money transactions or the exchange of goods or services) with certain people or entities that are considered "specially designated nationals"
  • Whether you will be supplying certain technologies or data at a "closed" conference or meeting (not open to all technically qualified members of the public, and attendees are not permitted to take notes)

Necessary Actions

If you believe any of the regulations might apply to you, you should take the following steps in consultation and collaboration with the research compliance staff in the Export Controls Officer in the Division of Research & Innovation:

  • Determine whether any license exemptions may apply to your activity. For example, an exemption for "tools of trade" used in research may be available depending on the circumstances. (This exemption requires the items or data remain in your personal control at all times, which may not be feasible.) Lawful involvement of foreign nationals in controlled activities while at UofM may not automatically extend to laboratory or field research sites outside of the U.S. Hence, foreign national involvement in research being conducted outside the U.S. may require prior agency authorization.;
  • Determine whether an export license or authorization from the appropriate government agency is required prior to the intended travel;
  • Obtain an export license, when necessary.

The Export Controls Officer in the Division of Research and Innovation submit all requests for licenses on behalf of UofM. Be sure to contact the Export Controls Officer well in advance of your planned travel dates, as obtaining a license may take 30 days or longer.

Helpful Tips When Traveling Internationally

  • Use your best judgment in communicating with foreign nationals, and be alert to situations that may result in inadvertent inappropriate or illegal disclosure of controlled information or data;
  • Avoid situations that lead to providing advice or assistance outside of fundamental research parameters;
  • Do not discuss controlled or sensitive information (for example, proprietary information that you may happen to have) in public places;
  • Always keep controlled or sensitive items, information or data secure;
  • Maintain a "need-to-know" policy when discussing work-related information with others;
  • Do not leave equipment, documents or data in your hotel safe;
  • Ensure that UofM has a way of getting in touch with you if necessary.

Research Compliance Training