Export Controls in Research

Export control


Overview of Export Controls

Shipping Research Items Outside the United States and Foreign Persons in Your Lab

“Export controls” are governed by federal law that carry very stringent civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance.  Export Control laws can apply to ANY shipment, transmission, or transfer of certain physical items, information or software outside the United States.  These laws also apply to “deemed exports” where there is a “release” or sharing of export-controlled information or technology to any foreign national in the United States, which may include individuals working at UC Davis in your lab or facility.  In these situations, an export control license and potentially other security measures may be required under federal law.

Many of the items, information or software that members of UC Davis ship outside the U.S. or share with colleagues and research partners are not of a nature that would be restricted for these purposes, nor are they destined for countries or individuals subject to U.S. embargoes or sanctions. Nonetheless, given the serious penalties that are involved for non-compliance, UC Davis must always exercise due diligence in complying with U.S. trade laws while preserving one of the University of California’s core values, openness in research.  Thus, it is imperative that you not ship anything outside U.S., before ensuring that you have complied with the applicable licensing requirements. For sponsored research, you will be asked to answer export control-related questions on the initial Data Sheet that you submit to the Sponsored Programs Office (Section 7, “Export Control”). It is important that you answer these questions completely and accurately so that the Research Compliance & Integrity Unit can work with you in determining if your research activities trigger any export control requirements.  Contact the Research Compliance & Integrity unit

International Travel, Research, and Collaborations

Additionally, certain types of international travel, research, and other activities may trigger export control rules.  This includes travel, shipments, collaborations with, and other activities to and/or in embargoed countries such as Iran, Syria, and Cuba.  These rules carry equally serious if not more onerous civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance.

Accordingly, it is also imperative that you not engage in any international travel, research, or collaborations until you first determine that your activities are exempt from export control licensing or you have obtained a license. Contact the Research Compliance & Integrity unit

Purpose for Export Control Rules

The United States export controls exist to protect the national security and foreign policy interests of the United State, and is governed by the U.S. State Department International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the U.S. Commerce Department Export Administration Regulations (EAR) or foreign entities.  Due to concerns about homeland security, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and unauthorized releases of technology to U.S. economic competitors, the federal government has recently increased its scrutiny of export control compliance by colleges and universities.

The Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE)

Because UC Davis embraces the concepts of academic freedom and open publication and dissemination of research findings and results, most research at UCD is excluded from the “deemed export” rules under the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE) as long certain criteria are satisfied. The FRE generally only applies when the results of the research are ordinarily published and shared with the scientific community.   To qualify under the FRE, the research must be free of any publication or access restrictions.

NOTE: The FRE does not apply to the actual physical export (e.g. shipment or transmission) of control items, data, or information outside the United States.).  Even if your research is fundamental research as defined by federal law, any and all actual shipments or exports of research items outside the United States should be vetted to determine with a license is required.

Additional Resources

Contact the Research Compliance & Integrity unit

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