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Export Control FAQs

1) Export Controls, why do they apply to me?


  • Exports include the transfer of controlled physical items, such as equipment, to foreign countries or foreign nationals in the U.S. or abroad; transfer or disclosure of information or technical data (e.g. visual disclosure through observation) to foreign countries or foreign nationals in the U.S. (“deemed export”) or abroad; and provision of services outside the U.S. or to entities outside the U.S.
  • Laws and policies apply to items, including software, supercomputers, “dual-use” commodities, technologies, as well as information, transferred to anyone outside the U.S. or to a foreign person in the U.S. Export licenses are required in certain instances. Non-research and research transactions may be included under these jurisdictions. Violation of export rules can result in severe penalties for the individual and the entity. The relevant regulations are:
    • State Department, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls — International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR)
    • Commerce Department, Bureau of Industry and Security — Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
    • Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

In Research Activities
When U.S. universities undertake basic or applied research on campus in the United States, the results of which will ordinarily be published (and are not treated as proprietary), the research results, i.e. information, may be excluded from certain export control provisions. This exclusion may apply to collaborations with researchers from other countries when the research is conducted in the United States. However, research conducted with non-U.S. collaborators outside the United States may, if export controls apply, require a license prior to undertaking the activity, including transfer of information sufficient to develop research proposals. A “deemed export” may occur in research conducted in the United States if a visiting scholar or foreign student participates and the research is not covered by the fundamental research exclusion. An export license must be obtained prior to any deemed export. 

In Education Activities
Public domain exemption to export controls may allow the use of already published materials to convey information in the classroom abroad, if the course is listed in the course catalogue. 

In Travel Activities
In addition to reviewing the U.S. State Department’s warnings and travel restrictions, travelers should be mindful of export restrictions. Many computers must be kept in your possession 24/7.

2) How will I know if I’m exporting information or technology?

Does the activity involve:

  • A foreign company whether the activity is conducted here or abroad?
  • A foreign national
  • A foreign government sponsor whether the activity is conducted here or abroad?
  • A U.S. government contract with a restriction on participation by foreign nationals or other restriction?
  • A contract with a U.S. company or the U.S. government that has a publication restriction or an associated NDA or proprietary rights agreement?
  • Taking equipment overseas?
  • Foreign nationals (faculty, post-docs, students, visiting scholars, collaborators, etc.) using equipment on the TU campus?

3) What do I do if I am exporting information or technology?

DO NOT engage in the activity until the University of Tulsa has determined that the activity is not subject to export controls or, if it is, until a license has been obtained.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs will provide you with an export review form to fill out as part of the package.

4) What situations may require a license?

  • Tours of laboratories (including visiting scientists or employees of foreign companies/universities)
  • Foreign students or professors conducting collaborative research (inside or outside the U.S.)
  • Hosting or corresponding with foreign scientists
  • Transportation of laptops by faculty or students to foreign countries
  • Emails, visual inspection, oral exchanges by faculty/students with foreign nationals
  • Continuing Education — acceptance of payments from foreign nationals to enroll in courses requiring access codes (considered proprietary information)
  • Conferences — restrictions on participants, co-sponsorship with certain countries or groups
  • Personnel — Any work or interaction with foreign nationals must be examined carefully and reviewed against Blocked Persons List, Denied Persons List, Specially Designated Nationals, etc.
  • Travel to foreign countries including sending or taking equipment, computers (personal or business laptops). Includes but is not limited to researchers, instructors, students, Fulbright Scholars, administrators, etc.)
  • Software — proprietary software, encrypted technology transmitted in any fashion
  • Sales/Transfer of Technology — Transferring ownership of controlled articles to a foreign person in the U.S. or U.S. citizen/entity abroad.
  • Payments of compensation, honoraria, contracts/services/value to or in embargoes countries or to foreign nationals and entities of some embargoed countries including attending and/or planning international conferences.

5) Who can I contact for assistance?

For assistance with export control compliance please contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

6) What activities should I avoid?

  • Discussing non-public domain technology with foreign companies and foreign nationals without having an export review done.
  • Taking controlled technology overseas without having an export review done.
  • Taking foreign nationals on lab tours without discussing with the Office or Research and Sponsored Programs

7) What is the difference between an exclusion, exception and exemption?

  • Exclusions are outside the regulations
  • Exceptions are specifically outlined by each agency
  • Exemptions apply to all agencies

8) What practices should I employ to protect the export-controlled information?

  • Laboratory work should be physically shielded from observation by operating in secured laboratory spaces or during secure time blocks with observation by unauthorized persons is preventable.
  • Data, lab notebooks, hard copy reports and research materials are held in locked, fireproof cabinets located in rooms with key-controlled access.
  • Electronic communications and all databases are managed via a type of virtual private network specifically a Secure Socket layer (SSL) which limits access to authorized users only and facilitates exchanges between those users while encrypting (128 bit encryption) any data sent via Internet.
  • Discussions about the project or work products are limited to the identified contributing investigators and are held only in areas where unauthorized persons are not present.
  • Discussions with third-party subcontractors, such as identified manufacturing sites, are only conducted under signed confidentiality agreements and fully respecting the non-U.S. citizen limitations for such disclosures.
  • Third-party communications are conducted only under valid Confidentiality Agreements with prior consent of the Government.

9) I teach a class that involves information about encryption using standard published textbooks. Do I have a problem if foreign nationals are in my class?

If you are providing information that is already in the public domain (e.g. published textbooks, excerpts from professional journals, newspaper articles, etc.), it is acceptable to present this information in a class.

10) Some of these requirements will cost me money I didn’t request in my proposal because I didn’t know this would be export controlled. How should I handle this?

Check first with your Department Chair or College Dean to see if they can provide the funds for the special computer, special storage facility, separate workspace, etc. It may be necessary to bring the matter to the Vice President for Research. The information or technology must be protected; this is not an option.

11) I have heard Microsoft operating software is or may be export controlled. I’ve already been warned about not taking my laptop out of the country if it has obvious export controlled data on it but can I have a problem with the basic operating system?

Possibly. Microsoft provides information on their website (or at the home page, search for “export control”) that lists their different hardware and software products along with the DoC ECCN (export classification number) and the status of this item relative to requirement of a license for export.