Export Compliance Fundamentals

Do I need to be concerned about Export Compliance? Probably. Most faculty members work with foreign collaborators in one capacity or another (sharing samples, traveling abroad, exchanging e-mails, meeting at conferences, hosting international scholars, etc.). Some faculty members are at relatively low risk for violating export control regulations, and others are at high risk. However, even low risk faculty members need to know enough of the basics to avoid certain pitfalls.

Am I low risk or high risk? If you answer yes to either of the following, you are a high risk.
1.    Do you perform any defense-related research?
2.    Have you accepted a publication prior approval requirement or a foreign national restriction on a sponsored research agreement or other related agreement?

If I am low risk , what do I need to know? 
1.    Certain items (e.g., certain sensors, lasers, chemicals, microorganisms, and computer technology) require a license before they can be shipped abroad. Please consult the Commerce Control List and the Munitions List for a complete list. (Note: e-mailing related technical data abroad also constitutes an export.)
2.    If you are bringing visiting scientists into your lab, it is important to know whether any of your technology is listed on the Commerce Control List or the Munitions List. Foreign students and employees are generally permitted to use such technology in conducting Penn State research. However, visiting scientists may be subject to licensing requirements. 
3.    Many laptops, GPS devices, and cell phones are controlled under U.S. export law. It is generally permitted to bring such items abroad under the “tools of the trade” exemption, but the traveler must keep them on his or her person at all times and make sure the devices are brought back to the U.S. at the end of the trip.
4.    Presentations at international conferences are generally acceptable. However, sidebar conversations related to Munitions List orCommerce Control List technology must be limited to information already in the public domain.
5.    The U.S. Department of State maintains a listing of applicable travel warnings. The State Department also recommends that youregister your trip outside the United States, so they can assist you in case of an emergency. The FBI advises you to make photo copies of your passport and plane tickets and to keep the copies in separate storage. FBI information for traveling overseas with mobile phones, laptops, PDA’s and other electronic devices can be found here.
6.    It is unlawful to provide anything of material value to certain sanctioned countries. Any interactions with any such country should be reviewed by the Office of Sponsored Programs.

If I am high risk, what do I need to know? In addition to the above, high risk researchers need to be aware of the following:
1.    Training foreign nationals in the use of any Munitions List technology may require a license from the U.S. Department of State.
2.    If you accept a publication prior approval requirement or a foreign national restriction in any contractual document, your related research will no longer be considered “fundamental research.” In such cases, it is necessary to work with the Office of Sponsored Programs to implement a Technology Control Plan and/or to secure licenses for foreign nationals to work in your lab.
3.    Many departments are providing “clean” laptops for high risk faculty to use when traveling abroad. High risk faculty should not bring their own devices abroad, since such devices may contain controlled or sensitive research results.