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It is the policy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that all personnel, including employees, visiting scholars and students comply with all United States export control laws and regulations, including the Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and the regulations administered by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Complete export control policy.

General Information

University activities involving any of the following may need an export license.

  • Shipping materials (equipment, research supplies) abroad
  • Teaching or training foreign national inside the U.S. how to use certain equipment or technologies
  • Teaching or training foreign colleagues abroad how to use certain equipment or technologies.

The federal government enforces significant penalties for noncompliance, including both criminal and civil sanctions. Penalties can be levied at both the university and the individual researcher/exporter. The federal government enforcement against universities has increased over the past decade.

Regulations Overview

Depending on the country of destination, controlled technologies and commodities regulated under ITAR and DOC require a license prior to shipment.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations (EAR) have a wider impact on research and development. EAR regulates the export of so-called “dual-use” technologies, listed in the lengthy and detailed Commerce Control List (CCL). Dual-use technologies and commodities have civil, commercial and peaceful purposes, but are listed on the CCL because of their strategic value or potential for military use or terrorism. Many CCL items are not hazardous, valuable or uncommon. The CCL contains many technologies and commodities commonly found in laboratories or used for field research, including:

  • Biologicals (viruses, bacteria, toxins and genetic elements)
  • GPS units
  • Laboratory Equipment (centrifuges, fermenters)
  • Chemicals (including newly synthesized chemicals)
  • Diagnostic Kits/Reagents
  • Computers or Tablets/iPads
  • Lasers
  • Software
  • Cameras (digital, infrared)
  • Encryption Software and Source Code
  • Marine and Oceanic Equipment
  • Aerospace Equipment

The Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulates defense articles and services. Regulated items listed on the U.S. Munitions List (USML). The USML is based on whether an article or service is deemed to be inherently military in character.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) enforces prohibited travel and asset transfers with countries subject to U.S. boycotts, trade sanctions and embargoes. The State Department regulates the export of inherently military technologies in accordance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

For more information visit the website of the Export Compliance Office.

Do you need an export license? Contact the Export Controls Officer for assistance with classifying your item(s).

International Shipping

Most items will not require export licenses. However, various types of supporting documentation may be required. Included are packing lists, safety data sheets, customs invoices, or import permits. U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and/or International Air Traffic Association (IATA) regulations apply to most shipped research equipment, medical supplies, or any quantity of chemical, biological or radioactive material. Those regulations specify classification, packaging, labeling, marking and documentation, with different requirements for every shipment. The Department of Environment, Health and Safety can aid in determining what other requirements or documentation is needed for your shipment.

Do you need help with an international shipment? Contact the Biosafety Specialist for assistance with shipping research materials internationally. Click the link below for more information on shipping research materials.

Export Control and Sponsored Research

Although export control regulations apply to virtually all fields of science and engineering, sponsored or not, they do not control all research because of several exclusions or exemptions.

“Fundamental research” exclusion
applies to basic and applied research in science and engineering performed by universities so long as that research is carried out openly and without restrictions on publication or access to or dissemination of the research results.
“Public domain” exclusion
applies if the information is in the public domain i.e. if it is published and generally accessible to the public through unlimited and unrestricted distribution.
“Teaching” exclusion
authorizes the disclosure of educational information released by instruction in catalog courses or general scientific, mathematical, or engineering principles commonly taught in universities without a license.

Most of the research activities at UNC are excluded from export controls because the activities fall under fundamental research, public domain or other exemptions. However, any formal or contractual restrictions on the open sharing of research results eliminate a project’s fundamental and public domain exemption.

International Travel

Before traveling to a sanctioned country, or trading with or providing services to persons in sanctioned countries, individuals must first educate themselves on the specific sanctions program for that country to determine whether such transactions are permitted. University Counsel can aid in this determination.

Research personnel should be aware that transporting any item, whether controlled or not, outside the U.S. while traveling constitutes an export under US law. This includes your laptop, PDA or other electronic storage devices. Researchers are required not to travel with laptops containing controlled information, including technology data or blueprints and to always retain effective control of the electronics at all times. Contact the Export Control Officer for assistance with traveling with university laptops.

Deemed Exports

An export of technology or source code (except encryption source code) is “deemed” to take place when it is released to a foreign national within the United States. Such release is “deemed” to be an export to the home country or countries of the foreign national. This deemed export rule does not apply to persons lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States and does not apply to persons who are protected individuals under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3)).

Sponsored research projects are reviewed for the potential of deemed export. If a license is required, the petitioner must certify that the beneficiary will not access such technology or data until the license has been obtained.

Software and Encryption Technology

Encryption commodities (hardware, software, source code and object code) that contain, uses, leverages, calls upon or hooks into encryption functionality, including the utilization of third party encryption products are subject to export regulations.

If you are working on encryption technologies in your lab, classification of the encryption technologies needs to be completed by the Export Control Specialist. For ongoing compliance, contact the ECS:

  • To determine whether or not the encryption commodity, software, technology or source code is:
    • Controlled
    • Eligible for a license exception based on your anticipated activities and nature of the encryption
    • Requires registration, notification, reports or formal classification with the U.S. government based on your anticipated activities
  • If you’ve received request to transfer (ship/email) an encryption item internationally
  • If there are changes to your research project that will affect:
    • The type, nature, or capabilities of the encryption you are working with
    • The countries involved in your project

Read more: Research Projects Involving Encryption Items




Export Controls and Transfers of Material, Equipment, Supplies and Technologies

International Travel, Export Controls and Sponsored Research
Judy Culhane Faubert
Associate University Counsel

International/Domestic Shipping
Chad Pleasants
Biosafety Specialist