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The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is committed to advancing knowledge through open research in which all methodologies, data, and research results are freely shared with the public. Balanced against this commitment is a responsibility to protect the national security and economic interests of the United States, which can be achieved in part by establishing mechanisms for complying with export controls.
In this context, “exports” refer both to shipments of tangible commodities and software to recipients outside the United States, as well as to disclosures of certain kinds of information to foreign nationals wherever located, including faculty, staff, and students in the United States. The term “export controls” refers to the federal laws and regulations that deal with the distribution of strategically important technology and information to, and certain financial transactions with, foreign nationals in the United States and persons and entities in foreign countries.
Federal export control laws impact many activities on campus, including research, purchasing equipment and materials, international travel, hiring, and collaborations with colleagues in other countries. Export control laws may require obtaining special approval from the government prior to engaging in these activities, and may in some cases prohibit certain activities altogether.
Click on the titles below for more information.
Statement of Policy
The official Export Control Policy is published in the Campus Administrative Manual.
It is the policy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that all members of the campus community comply with all United States export controls while engaging in any of the activities described herein. The university is committed to fully supporting such compliance and has enacted procedures to enable personnel to remain in full compliance with the relevant statutes and regulations.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are export controls?
Export controls are federal laws and regulations that govern exports of certain commodities, technologies, services, and money to foreign countries. Export controls also regulate disclosures of certain kinds of information—including research data—to non-U.S. persons. Some exports and disclosures require special permissions (usually in the form of a license) from a federal agency.
There are three primary sources of regulations that govern exports of different kinds of commodities and information:
- The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) govern exports of military technologies. The technologies controlled by the ITAR are found on the United States Munitions List. The ITAR also control information required for the development or operation of military technologies. Technologies controlled by the ITAR are the most sensitive and therefore the most tightly controlled. Every export of an ITAR-controlled item requires permission from the State Department.
- The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) control exports of "dual-use" items and technologies. Dual-use items are items that have primarily civilian or commercial applications, but can be adapted for military use. Dual-use items can be found on the Commerce Control List. EAR-controlled items are less sensitive than ITAR-controlled items, so not all exports require a license. Rather, the Commerce Departments licensing requirements are based on the nature of the item, the destination country, the recipient, and the recipients intended use of the item.
- The Foreign Assets Control Regulations (also known as the Office of Foreign Assets Control or OFAC Regulations) control exports, travel, and financial transactions involving embargoed countries. Many transactions, including research and teaching collaborations, require special permission from OFAC. The terms of these embargoes differ by country, but you should exercise caution when proposing traveling to or collaborating with someone in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, the Republic of Sudan (also called North Sudan), or Syria.
There are additional rules related to exports of technologies in more specialized areas. If your research involves nuclear energy, pharmaceuticals, or collaborations with foreign militaries, please contact the Export Compliance Officer for further guidance on these topics.
What is an export?
Exports include shipments of tangible items, including carrying items in luggage, and transmissions of information to a destination outside the United States. The United States includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other US territories (like Puerto Rico and Guam). The United States does not include US military bases or embassies in other countries: shipments or transmissions to these destinations are exports.
Some exports (depending on the item being exported) require special permission from the government in the form of an export license. Many other exports do not (depending on the country an item is being exported to). Certain kinds of exports may also qualify for license exemptions. For example, some exports where the item will be returned to the United States within six months, or where the item will be completely used up shortly after the export takes place, may not require a license. Check with the Export Compliance Officer to determine whether you qualify for a license exemption.
Certain transmissions or releases of information in intangible formats are also deemed to be exports. There is more information on deemed exports below.
What is a deemed export?
Transmissions or releases of information or software to anyone who is not a United States citizen or permanent resident are “deemed” to be exports of that information to that person’s country of citizenship. A deemed export can occur anywhere in the world, including inside the United States, and can occur in any format.
For example, if a researcher emails the results of an experiment to a colleague in China, the email is deemed to be an export of the data to China. Note that this is still an export to China even if the colleague is a US national. If the colleague in China is a German national, the email is also deemed to be an export to both China and Germany.
Deemed exports can also occur inside the United States. For example, if a researcher verbally discusses research data with a Kenyan grad student, that discussion is deemed to be an export to Kenya, even if the conversation takes place in the researcher’s lab in Urbana.
Because deemed exports involve sharing information and restrictions are based on nationality, they can be especially tricky for universities and university researchers. Fortunately, most information can be freely shared with most people from most countries. As with exports of tangible goods, most deemed exports do not require a license.
Generally, information that has already been published can be distributed freely. Information that cannot be distributed freely (and that likely requires an export license) includes information that is sensitive for national security reasons and proprietary or confidential data. If you have questions about whether you need a license to share data, please contact the Export Compliance Officer.
What is a technology control plan?
A technology control plan documents procedures for securing and managing access to controlled items or spaces where sensitive work is being conducted. Technology control plans may sometimes overlap and work in conjunction with other security plans, like biosafety or chemical safety protocols.
A template technology control plan is available. Please contact the Export Compliance Officer for assistance in determining whether your research requires a technology control plan, or for implementing an appropriate plan for your lab.
Additionally, foreign nationals planning to participate in controlled research may be required to obtain an export license before accessing sensitive information or controlled materials.
What is an export license and how do I get one?
An export license is an authorization from a federal agency to carry out a specific export transaction. For example, you might need a license to carry a piece of equipment into a foreign country to collect field data; you might also need an export license to disclose sensitive data to a foreign national postdoc or grad student, even if they’re working on campus.
Not all exports require a license, but failure to obtain a required license before exporting equipment or disclosing sensitive information could subject you to criminal sanctions including fines and prison time. If you would like to export equipment or handle sensitive information in your lab, start by consulting the United States Munitions List and Commerce Control List. If your item or information fits into one of the listed categories, you may need to get a license.
Only the Empowered Official and Export Compliance Officer are authorized to apply for licenses on behalf of the university. If you think you may need a license, or have any questions about this process, contact the Export Compliance Officer.
Export Controls and Research
Export controls may sometimes affect university activities in unexpected ways. For example, research involving attenuated select agents may require additional security procedures beyond a biosafety protocol, and foreign national personnel may be restricted from accessing certain licensed software or experimental data, even if used for fundamental research. We must therefore consider the application of export controls to research projects and other activities on an individual basis.
Data and other information resulting from university-based research and other academic activities are often exempt from these licensing rules as the results of “fundamental research” – that is, research that is conducted openly and without restrictions regarding participation or dissemination. However, this exemption applies only to the results of research, not to any controlled materials that may be used to conduct research. This means that even research conducted openly and with the intent to share the resulting information broadly may sometimes still be subject to export controls. Other license exemptions may also apply in limited circumstances.
While we are generally committed to pursuing fundamental research and other activities that allow for open engagement and collaboration with the international community, controlled research is not prohibited at Urbana-Champaign. However, personnel wishing to participate in controlled research are responsible for working with administrative staff to prevent unlicensed exports, unauthorized disclosures, and other violations of export controls.
When dealing with export controls, you'll encounter a number of terms with specific legal meanings. Click the boxes below to learn more about how each term is used in this context.
include defense articles, dual-use items, and any other technologies identified on either the United States Munitions List or Commerce Control List as subject to export controls. Note that “items” in this context may refer to information or software source code in addition to tangible items like lab equipment, chemical samples, or biological specimens.
include disclosures of information or software source code to foreign nationals, regardless of format or location. For example, emailing or verbally discussing research data with a foreign national, or making source code available for download by the general public.
are any items or information that serve primarily military or intelligence applications, with few or no civilian applications.
include tangible items, software, and other technologies that have both civilian and military applications.
include shipments of tangible items to recipients outside the United States as well as transmissions of information in any format to foreign persons, including faculty, staff, and students, wherever located. Examples include shipping equipment or physical samples to a colleague in another country, or emailing or verbally discussing research data with a foreign national.
are written authorizations provided by a federal agency that allow exports or deemed exports of specific items or information to specific recipients for specific end-uses. Licenses are generally required in order to export controlled items, depending on the nature of the item, the intended recipient, and the recipient’s intended end-use. In some circumstances, it may also be necessary to obtain a license in order to export an uncontrolled item to a recipient in a particular location (for example, an embargoed country). Not all exports and deemed exports require licenses.
Export license exceptions
are limited circumstances under which exports of controlled items are allowed without first obtaining an export license. These exceptions are detailed at 15 C.F.R. 740.
are any persons or entities who do not fall into one of the following categories:
1. United States citizens;
2. Lawful permanent residents of the United States;
3. Refugees, asylees, and similarly protected individuals;
4. Entities of the United States government, including both state and federal agencies; or
5. Corporations, business associations, and other organizations incorporated or otherwise authorized to do business in the United States.
refers to basic and applied research in science and engineering where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community. Data and other information that result from fundamental research are not subject to export controls. However, if controlled items are used to conduct research, these items remain controlled, regardless of whether the work itself constitutes fundamental research.
Technology control plans (TCPs)
are documents that record procedures for securing and managing access to controlled items. TCPs may be specific to individual research projects, or may be established to secure equipment or information that is used for several activities. TCPs are separate from biosafety and radiation safety protocols, and may be required in addition to them.
The Empowered Official
As required by 22 C.F.R. 120.25, the Empowered Official for ITAR has the following authorities and responsibilities that may not be delegated:
- Signing applications for licenses and other requests for approval under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations on behalf of the university and university personnel;
- Taking appropriate measures to enforce this policy;
- Reporting suspected export control violations to the cognizant federal authorities; and
- Any other authorities and responsibilities enumerated at 22 C.F.R. 120.25.
The Empowered Official for the Urbana-Champaign campus is David Richardson.
The Export Compliance Officer
The Export Compliance Officer serves as the primary contact for members of the Urbana-Champaign community regarding export controls, including:
- Applying for export licenses on behalf of the university and university personnel
- Assisting researchers in developing technology control plans
- Conducting training and providing other educational programs regarding export compliance
The Export Compliance Officer for the Urbana-Champaign campus is Sam Padilla.
As a researcher, you bear the primary responsibility for ensuring compliance with export controls in the conduct of research and any other university activities you participate in. This may include:
- Contacting the Export Compliance Officer for assistance with any activities or relationships that may require a technology control plan, including:
- Research intended to develop military or dual-use technologies
- Research, including fundamental research, involving the use of controlled information or equipment
- Travel to embargoed countries
- Exports of controlled items and information, including deemed exports
- Disclosing to the Export Compliance Officer any suspected violations
- Working with the Export Compliance Officer to ensure that the controlled technologies you use and produce are appropriately identified, correctly categorized, and adequately secured
- Knowing and complying with the terms of funding awards and other agreements that impose limitations on publishing research data
- Working with the Export Compliance Officer to ensure that other faculty, staff, and students under your supervision receive appropriate training on conducting research and participating in controlled activities in compliance with regulatory and contractual obligations
Procedures for a selection of common activities are provided below. To view the complete Procedures for Export Compliance, click here.
Exports and deemed exports generally
Exports of controlled items and information are governed by complex legal regimes, and sometimes require special permission (in the form of an export license or other authorization) from an agency of the federal government. Generally, exports of physical items are controlled either by the State Department (for military and space items) or the Commerce Department (for dual-use items). Not all items are controlled for all destinations, but some items may not be sent to specified individuals, or used for specified end-uses.
The Empowered Official and Export Compliance Officer share responsibility for determining whether a particular export requires a license and, if so, applying for that license. Faculty members, staff, and students cannot apply for export licenses on their own. In order to facilitate these determinations, exporters should be able to provide answers to the following questions:
- What is the item to be exported? This includes a detailed technical description of the item, its specifications or operating parameters, and any contractual non-disclosure or end-use restrictions that apply to the item.
- Where will the item be exported to? Certain items cannot be shipped to certain countries, regardless of sensitivity or intended use.
- Who will receive the item? Certain individuals and organizations are prohibited from receiving exports from U.S. persons. The Export Compliance Officer will need to screen recipients against lists of restricted parties maintained by the federal government.
- What is the intended end-use? The federal government prohibits exports of items that will be used to create weapons of mass destruction or conduct criminal activities. Because some equipment that is used for legitimate research purposes may also be used for unlawful activities, export licenses require detailed descriptions of how items will be used once they reach their destination.
If the Export Compliance Officer determines that a license is necessary based on the responses to these questions, he or she will apply for a license on behalf of the researcher. Depending on the item to be exported, the government may take up to six months (and in some cases even longer) to process a license application, and there is no guarantee that a license will be issued. No exports may take place until the required license is issued.
Export Compliance Officer
Controlled financial transactions
Researchers who wish to conduct business, including research collaborations, with a person or entity in a foreign country should consult with the Export Compliance Officer prior to entering any agreements.
Urbana-Champaign is prohibited by the FACR and EAR from engaging in collaborations with certain individuals and organizations identified on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, Denied Persons List, and Entity List. Personnel are prohibited from conducting any business, including sharing research data, with any individual or entity identified on any of these lists, except as specifically approved by the cognizant federal agency. Only the Export Compliance Officer is authorized to seek such approval on behalf of the university and university personnel.
Other transactions with certain foreign persons, including nationals and entities of countries subject to United States trade embargoes, require a license or other authorization issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Transactions requiring a license include but are not limited to:
- Hiring or sponsoring an employment visa on behalf of a national of an embargoed country
- Hosting a foreign scholar who is a national of an embargoed country
- Accepting money or other support from an individual or entity in an embargoed country
If the Export Compliance Officer determines that a transaction requires a license or other authorization under the FACR, he or she will apply for the required licenses and authorizations on behalf of the university. The Export Compliance Officer will work with the affected researcher or unit to determine whether a transaction is subject to federal sanctions. If the transaction does require a license or authorization, however, only the Export Compliance Officer is authorized to apply for it. No transactions may take place before the required license or authorization has been obtained.
Export Compliance Officer
Associate Director of Purchasing, Contracts
You should be careful not to travel outside the United States with controlled items or computers or other devices that contain controlled information. If you wish to travel internationally for the purposes of conducting or presenting research, you should consult with the Export Compliance Officer to determine whether any restrictions apply. In particular, if you are involved in controlled research, you must contact the Export Compliance Officer prior to finalizing any international travel plans.
The FACR may restrict U.S. citizens’ and permanent residents’ ability to travel to embargoed destinations. In order to travel to Cuba, you must obtain authorization from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. If you would like to travel to other embargoed countries (like Iran or Syria), or other sensitive regions, you should consult with the Export Compliance Officer and International Health and Safety prior to finalizing travel plans.
Export Compliance Officer
Assistant Director for International Health and Safety
Technology control plans
University personnel may purchase or otherwise acquire controlled items for use in research and other activities. While controlled items may be used to conduct fundamental research without affecting the ability to freely disseminate the results of the research, controlled items must be handled in the following ways:
- ITAR-controlled items should be secured according to a technology control plan developed by the responsible researcher in conjunction with the Export Compliance Officer, the researcher’s department, and any other affected compliance unit, regardless of whether foreign persons will have access to the controlled items or whether the controlled items will otherwise be exported. Additionally, technology controls plans and disposition of ITAR-controlled items require the approval of the Empowered Official.
- The Export Compliance Officer may determine that a technology control plan is necessary to secure EAR-controlled items, in light of the nature of the item, the activity it will be used for, and the persons who require access to it. If the Export Compliance Officer determines that a technology control plan is required for an EAR-controlled item, he or she will assist the responsible researcher in developing an appropriate plan. Disposal of EAR-controlled dual-use items should be coordinated with the Export Compliance Officer in addition to any other responsible administrative unit.
You can download a template technology control plan by clicking here.
Export Compliance Officer
Violations and enforcement
Because violations of export controls, including inadvertent failures to comply, may result in severe criminal and civil penalties both for individual faculty, staff, and students, as well as for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an institution, export compliance is the shared responsibility of all members of the university community. While we are committed to openness in research and in the classroom, it may from time to time be necessary to restrict certain individuals’ ability to conduct, access the results of, or otherwise participate in certain research projects and other university activities.
If you suspect that a violation has occurred, you should report the suspected violation directly to the Empowered Official or to the Export Compliance Officer. In the event that a suspected violation of this policy is reported to the Empowered Official or the Export Compliance Officer, the Empowered Official will initiate an investigation in conjunction with University Counsel and any other affected administrative or academic units.
The Empowered Official may need to inspect documents relevant to the investigation, including lab notebooks, security records, and internal communications. You should keep these documents in a safe place and be prepared to produce them on request. During the course of an investigation, the Empowered Official may also order personnel to cease any university activities related to the suspected violation.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Director of Sponsored Programs
Export Compliance Officer
To request assistance with obtaining a license, develop a technology control plan, or report a suspected violation, or for other questions related to exports, deemed exports, or controlled items:
For questions about international travel:
Assistant Director for International Health and Safety
For questions about purchasing controlled items:
Associate Director of Purchasing, Contracts
Additional information is available at University Counsel's website.