International Travel, Research, and Collaborations

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 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.

International collaborations that could trigger export control requirements include:

    • collaboration on controlled or restricted research
    • collaborators that include people or entities from a sanctioned country
    • collaborators that include people or entities that are considered a restricted party
    • research that involves the transfer of physical items, technical data, or software
    • any transfers that could meet the definition of a defense service

Screening should be performed at the outset of any international collaboration, to ensure that the collaborating entity does not appear on any of the U.S. Government Restricted Party Lists.

For  several brief videos, that specifically address these concerns, please visit Export Control Resources.

Traveling Overseas with Electronic Devices

Many researchers have recently raised questions about their rights and responsibilities regarding travel with electronic devices, specifically by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the United States territorial border and ports of entry.  UC Systemwide Information Security has created a useful FAQ that addresses many of these questions. Please contact Export Control for additional guidance and best practices for taking electronics overseas in the course of research.

Traveling with Electronic Devices Resources

Cybersecurity for the Travelling Scientist

International Travel, Research, and Collaborations Abroad

The exchange of scientific information with collaborators abroad, whether research, teaching, presenting, or working at another university, usually does not trigger an export control requirement unless it involves certain activities.

It is permissible to share the results of fundamental research or publicly available information with foreign colleagues, unless such recipients of this information are restricted parties or representatives of the government of a sanctioned country (e.g., North Korea). OFAC regulations may prohibit discussing even published research in some countries as the discussion may be considered providing a service. If there is any question as to whether you might be sharing research results that are not intended for publication, or you are transferring abroad any commodity or software that could be controlled under the EAR or ITAR, you should contact the Export Control to determine export license requirements.

Presentations at International Conferences and Webinars

Travel outside of the U.S. to attend a conference, not to present, generally would not require a license. However, information presented at seminars must be limited to topics that are not related to controlled commodities, software, or technology unless that information is already published or that information is already in the public domain or qualifies as fundamental research. Open seminars are usually not problematic unless they are in a sanctioned country or involve restricted parties. Exchanges of technical information including academic discussions may require a license.

Generally, information that is accessible to the public through a conference or webinar is considered in the public domain or publicly available and not subject to export control regulations. Specifically, the webinar or conference needs to be open to the public, such that all technically qualified members of the public are able to attend, and that attendees are allowed to take notes or make a personal record (not necessarily a recording) of the presentations. A registration fee may be charged if it is reasonable to the cost of the event and reflects an intention that all interested and technically qualified persons are eligible. Attendance may be limited as long as attendance is based on those who have applied first or are decided on the basis of relevant scientific or technical experience or competence.

Determination is case-specific so it is recommended that you contact Export Control to review your specific situation.

Best practices for attending a conference:

    • check that the host institution is not on a restricted party list
    • check that the destination is not an embargoed or sanctioned country
    • check that the conference is open to the public
    • check that the topics to be discussed are not related to export-controlled items or information that is not already in the public domain
    • bringing a clean laptop and cell phone (recommended)

Travelers should also pay attention to securing their laptop information and those presenting at conferences should also consider protecting their inventions before they publish or present them at conferences.

Conducting Research Abroad

Research, training, or field work that is conducted all or partly outside the U.S. may not qualify for the Fundamental Research Exclusion. The exemption is also nullified when there is a non-disclosure agreement signed by the faculty member. Export controls may apply until the work is published or is otherwise in the public domain. Before disclosing any information outside of the U.S., ensure that the information is not subject to export control regulations.

Please contact the Export Control to review your specific situation.

Teaching Abroad and Online

Material released in catalog-listed courses are considered publicly available, therefore most educational instruction at universities in the U.S. or abroad are excluded from U.S. export control under Educational Information protection, enabling participation by international students and faculty. Before teaching a course outside of the U.S., it is important to ensure that the information is not subject to export control regulations.

Export control issues could arise in the context of online courses and teaching abroad, even if only for part of a course.

Export controls could be implicated in the following examples:

    • The content includes use of controlled items, information, or software (e.g., if a course on nocturnal animal behaviors involves use of night vision goggles distributed by the University);
    • Although the course description does not imply any export control area of concern, the faculty member strays outside of the topic into controlled topics (e.g., a course on microbiology that includes details on extracting and purifying viruses); or
    • The course is delivered directly to students in a sanctioned or embargoed country (e.g., Iran, North Korea, and Syria – please check the list for current sanctions and embargoed countries).
    • To ensure that a course abroad or online does qualify for the educational exclusion, avoid instruction on advanced or sensitive technology, encryption, or nuclear technology, transfer of restricted or controlled technology, or instruction of any item where that instruction could be considered providing “defense service.”

If you are unsure if your instruction could be export controlled, contact Export Control to review your specific situation.

International Consulting

Providing professional consulting services overseas may require an export license, and providing professional consulting services embargoed or sanctioned countries (e.g., Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Ukraine [Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk Regions]) is, in most cases, strictly prohibited. Under export control regulations, U.S. citizens may not engage with certain foreign entities, including foreign persons, academic institutions, companies, governments, or other entities that are considered Restricted Parties. This means that researchers are not able to include these individuals or entities in research or other collaborations. Most activities with these restricted parties are prohibited, including business transactions, sending physical items to or on behalf of a restricted entity, or providing them with technology, software, or a service of any kind. As a reminder, these regulations apply to outside professional activities as well, including consulting and adjunct professorships.

When considering consulting overseas, things to be aware of are:

  • sanctions that apply to that country
  • if the company is on any government lists
  • if the information you are sharing is controlled
  • that you are not providing technical assistance

Please contact the Research Ethics and Compliance Office to review your specific situation.

Please reach out to Academic Personnel and Conflict of Interest for additional compliance considerations when you are considering international consulting.