Export Controls

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.

Policy Statement

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.

Export Controls Topics

Contact Information

For questions about obtaining a license, developing a technology control plan, or reporting a suspected violation, or for other questions related to exports, deemed exports, or controlled items:

Kathy Gentry
Export Compliance Officer
ksgentry@illinois.edu or exportcontrols@illinois.edu

For questions about international travel:

Andrew Collum
Associate Director for International Safety and Security

For questions about hiring international students and scholars:

Martin McFarlane
Director, International Student and Scholar Services

For questions about purchasing controlled items:

Brad Henson
Associate Director of Purchasing, Contracts

Additional information is available on the University Counsel's website.

Related FAQ's

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 the 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This depends on the purpose of your trip and your destination. When planning a trip, you should carefully consider the equipment and data you'll be taking with you. Keep in mind that customs officials may confiscate or impose duties on anything you attempt to bring into the country, so you should avoid traveling with anything you can't afford to lose. If you're traveling to conduct research, consider the kinds of equipment you will need, and whether they might require an export license based on the nature of the equipment and the country you're traveling to. (The Export Compliance Officer can help you make this determination.)

If you are traveling to an embargoed country - Cuba, Iran, North Korea, (North) Sudan, or Syria - you may need authorization from a federal agency in addition to approval from the Export Compliance Officer and International Safety and Security. You may be prohibited from taking equipment, materials, and certain data to these countries. Contact the Export Compliance Officer early on in your process of planning a trip to one of these countries to ensure you have the best chance of obtaining any necessary approvals.

Another good practice is to back up your data - especially unpublished data - before you travel, and remove local copies from any laptops or other devices you travel with. Laptops are sometimes confiscated by customs officials and can get lost or stole while you're traveling, so removing sensitive data can help minimize the risk of losing hard work and violating U.S. export regulations. You can also visit the Technology Services website for other advice on securing your devices for travel.

Finally, if you plan to travel to an embargoed country or a country subject to a State Department travel advisory, you may also be required to obtain approval from International Safety and Security. You can find more information about the university's travel policies here.