Export Controls Overview

Faculty, staff and students will likely, at one time or another, intersect with federal regulations that impose access, dissemination or participation restrictions on the transfer of items and information regulated for reasons of national security, foreign policy, anti-terrorism or non-proliferation. In these situations, the UO community is dealing with US export control regulations. 


US export controls exist to protect the national security and foreign policy interests of this country.  Export controls govern the shipment, transmission, or transfer of regulated items, information and software to foreign countries, persons or entities.  

University awareness of export control laws and requirements are critical in a post-9/11 world: there are now significant civil and criminal penalties for violations of these regulations. Enforcement actions have recently been brought against several academic institutions, with resulting convictions. That said, the conduct and results of fundamental research are generally excluded from federal "deemed export" controls (for example, disclosure of information to foreign nationals on U.S. soil) in accordance with National Security Decision Directive 189.

When they do apply, export controls can impose access, dissemination, and participation restrictions on the conduct of UO research.  And when they do apply, they apply to ALL UO activities, not just sponsored research.  Export control regulations are complex and constantly evolving -- for example, they include technical terms of art; "exports" are not just items sent out of the country by the USPS, FedEx, UPS or another freight forwarder, but include international hand carries of items (laptops, cell phones, biologicals) as personal baggage or sharing certain regulated technical information or software code domestically. For this reason, there is a "Definitions" page (see "In This Section" to the right) introducing common export control terms and concepts, in easy-to-understand terms, to make export control regulations accessible to the UO community.

The University of Oregon relies on proper documentation in order to make use of exclusions and exemptions from licensing requirements. Recordkeeping is important if you are involved in research efforts where it may be necessary to ship research articles outside the U.S. or share export-controlled information provided by third parties, such as vendors, subcontractors, or collaborators.

What is an “export”?

Generally, an export occurs when technology, information, equipment, software, technical data or services is shared with a foreign person through an exchange of information or by shipping goods out of the country.

This includes any release of goods, services, or information to a foreign person, including:

  • Shipping goods outside of the US;
  • Providing goods to a foreign person while outside the US; and
  • “Deemed” exports, which include
    • Temporarily or permanently loaning equipment to a foreign person;
    • Allowing a foreign person to visually inspect documents, equipment, or facilities; or
    • Sharing information through email, fax, or in conversation with a foreign person.

What Do Export Controls Usually Cover?

  •     Chemical, Biotechnology, and Biomedical Engineering
  •     Materials Technology
  •     Remote Sensing, Imaging, and Reconnaissance
  •     Navigation, Avionics, and Flight Control
  •     Robotics
  •     Propulsion System and Unmanned Air Vehicle Subsystems
  •     Telecommunications/Networking
  •     Nuclear Technology
  •     Sensors and Sensor Technology
  •     Advanced Computer/Microelectronic Technology
  •     Information Security/Encryption
  •     Laser and Directed Energy Systems
  •     Rocket Systems
  •     Marine Technology

Federal Agencies and their Export Control Regulations

The Federal agencies and their export control regulations most commonly associated with research activity at academic institutions in the US are the following:

US Department of State (Directorate of Defense Trade Controls)

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) governs "defense articles and services" (items and information specifically designed or adapted for military use (includes satellites and spacecraft). The State Department also provides guidance on defense services and fundamental space science research.

US Department of Commerce (Bureau of Industry and Security)

The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) govern dual use items and information predominately civilian in character by having military applications.

US Department of the Treasury (Office of Foreign Assets Control)

The Office of Foreign Assets Control Regulations (OFAC) administers and enforces trade embargoes and economic sanctions. For reference, see their Lists of Sanctioned Countries and Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) under the "Resources" tab on the OFAC website.

Violations of these export control regulations can lead to significant civil and criminal penalties.

Federal Policy Guidance

In addition, the following information is of critical importance to U.S. higher education: