Export Control

Export control is a complicated topic with increasing attention. In fact, the real-life examples of high fees and even jail time for failure to comply make it a high-priority issue for UTIA and for UTIA employees.

Export control laws are federal regulations that govern how certain information, technologies, and commodities can be transmitted overseas to anyone -- including U.S. citizens -- or to foreign nationals on U.S. soil. In the federal statutes, the latter is considered a “deemed export” which impacts Universities significantly. Export controls present a challenge to research institutions because federal law demands that national security – and the safeguards it mandates – be reconciled with the concept of unrestricted academic freedom. Still, we have a responsibility to comply with export control laws and are committed to protecting our employees and other resources.

The federal agencies that exercise regulatory authority for export control include:
  • U.S. State Department - (ITAR) military applications including nuclear, biological, and chemical
  • U.S. Commerce Department - (EAR) commercial items with potential military application - “dual use”
  • U.S. Treasury Department - (OFAC) trade sanctions and embargoes; travel restrictions; supplying items and/or services of value
  • When do you need to be concerned with export control issues?

    1. If your work involves potential military application or defense technology, software, or other defense articles listed on the United States Munitions List (USML) under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) Part 121

    2. If your work requires travel to foreign countries.

    Travel to a foreign country may involve export control issues. You must have a license to take ITAR-controlled articles, technical data, or software (see item 1, above) out of the country. Please contact Jane Burns at 974-7375 as soon as possible if you are planning to take any articles, software, instruments, equipment, or data out of the country. In addition, EAR-controlled items or software (see item 4, below) may need a license to transport.

    In addition, it is important you take precautions to protect yourself and university data when you travel, especially out of the country. See safety tips for foreign travel.

    You must check with OSP before traveling to embargoed countries, found on the OFAC Sanctions Program and Country Summary.

    Before traveling internationally, familiarize yourself with the US Department of State website for international travelers. It includes vital country-specific information (laws you will not want to break, local embassy contact info, etc.) and facts about what to do if you face an emergency (lose a passport or worse) while traveling.

    Also see US. Department of State Countries of Particular Concern and travel alerts and warnings.

    3. If you are working with a foreign national.

    Foreign countries and most individuals who are not U.S. citizens are considered “foreign nationals”. One exception (who is not considered a foreign national) is an alien who is a “Lawful Permanent Resident” (i.e. Green Card holder).

    If you are working with a foreign national, Export Administration Regulations (EAR) regarding “deemed exports” may apply. If you will be bringing or inviting a visiting scholar to campus, contact Jane Burns at 865-974-7375 (in addition to working with your department and the Center for International Education) early in the planning process. When international, non-employee visitors come to UTIA, you will need to initiate an Agreement for Visiting Scholar or Agreement for J-1 Scholar and submit to Jane Burns. Contact her with any questions.

    4. If your work involves anything with a strong potential dual-use (civilian and military) application Export Administration Regulations (EAR) apply. Dual use items include items such as unmanned aerial systems (UAS or “drones”), telemetry software, or biological items.

    5. If your work addresses Homeland Security concerns or spacecraft technology, staffing restrictions or licensing requirements may apply.

    6. In addition, any of the following will raise export control questions for an extramural sponsored project:
  • Sponsor restrictions on the participation of foreign nationals in the research
  • Sponsor restrictions on the publication or disclosure of the research results
  • Indications from the sponsor or others that export-controlled information or technology will be furnished for use in the research
  • The physical export of controlled goods or technology is expected

  • 7. If you are shipping an item outside of the US, a license may be needed. See additional guidance at https://exportcontrol.utk.edu/international-shipping/.

    If any of these conditions apply, please contact Jane Burns at 865-974-7375.

    Exclusions to Export Control Laws may apply,

    such as these three that are particularly relevant to academic research:
  • Fundamental Research Exclusion – research ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community
  • Educational Information Exclusion – research released by instruction in catalog courses
  • Public Domain Exclusion – generally accessible to the interested public in any form

  • However, do not assume an exception will apply since the laws are complex. Also, be aware that these exclusions can be lost if researchers sign side agreements (including material transfer and non-disclosure agreements) that contain publication restrictions or restrict research participants. Per UTIA Procedures that exist to protect the faculty and the University, it is crucial that no agreements are signed without full review and approval by the sponsored programs office.

    Export Control Training

    One-on-one meetings to examine faculty concerns and/or answer specific questions are encouraged. In addition, the UTIA Compliance Officer can provide Export Control training, upon request. The following Export Control training is also available:

    For additional information

    Contact Jane Burns with any questions.