Export Control

Federal law restricts the export of goods (such as physical items), technology, technical data, and proprietary data, both when transferred outside the U.S. and to foreign nationals within the U.S. The federal government has increased its scrutiny of export control compliance, due to concerns about homeland security, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and unauthorized releases of technology to U.S. economic competitors. Export controls govern the shipment, transmission, or transfer of such regulated items, information, and software to foreign countries, persons, or entities.

Export control regulations may apply to activities such as:

  • Shipment of items, including data, outside of the U.S.
  • Travel to certain sanctioned or embargoed countries for purposes of teaching or performing research.
  • Collaborations outside of the U.S., especially in countries of concern (particularly Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Crimea).
  • Restricting data within a material transfer agreement.
  • Creating controlled items or technology.
  • Receipt of controlled items for use on campus.

Export compliance basics

Fundamental research

Fundamental research is defined as “basic and applied research in science and engineering where the resulting information is to be shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.”

UC Santa Cruz is a fundamental research research institution, which remains key to maintaining an environment of openness in an academic setting.

Because of the fundamental research exclusion, export controls rarely apply to the conduct and results of research activity at UC Santa Cruz. However, research materials may still be subject to export controls, including tangible products (other than software) of fundamental research, such as prototypes; encryption software; and some tools, software, and data needed to perform the research.

The fundamental research exclusion does not apply to research awards that include restrictions on publications, dissemination of information, or limitations on the participation of researchers on the basis of citizenship. If such restrictions are included, contact the Export Control office to see if additional actions are required to comply with export control laws.

In order to maintain fundamental research status, researchers are encouraged to publish research results in a timely manner through means that qualify as “publicly available” or “in the public domain.” Consult with your technology transfer or patent office by emailing innovation@ucsc.edu if the data concerns a patentable invention.

Shipment and transfer of materials

Export regulations govern any transfer of physical objects (including equipment, compounds, materials, prototypes, specimens, or components) outside the U.S. Many exports do not require a license (depending on what the item is and where it is being sent), and there are also many exceptions. When licenses are required, UC Santa Cruz has typically had success in obtaining them as needed. Prior to shipping research equipment or materials out of the U.S., always contact UC Santa Cruz’s export control officer at export@ucsc.edu to determine whether an export license is required.

Creation, receipt, and storage of controlled items for use on campus

Over the course of conducting fundamental research, researchers may create, receive, or access controlled items (such as technical data, controlled technology, or information). Should this occur, UC Santa Cruz will establish a Technology Control Plan prior to the creation or receipt of the controlled items, to ensure proper safeguard and storage. Contact export@ucsc.edu to establish a technology control plan.

Dual-use technology

At UC Santa Cruz, the most likely intersection with export controls is when utilizing or developing “dual use” technology. This includes items, information, and software that are primarily commercial or civil in nature, but also have potential military applications. Dual use items that are identified on the EAR Commerce Control List (CCL) have an Export Control Commodity Number (ECCN), and are of elevated strategic concern. Dual use items that are subject to regulation but are not identified on the CCL are termed “EAR99.” Dual use items may require an export license depending on the item, the recipient, the recipient’s citizenship or country of destination, and the item’s application.

UC Santa Cruz’s Institutional Contact for Dual Use Research (ICDUR) is the biosafety officer. The ICDUR serves as UC Santa Cruz’s internal resource for issues regarding compliance with and implementation of the requirements for oversight of Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) for Pathogens with Enhanced Pandemic Potential, related to federally funded research on certain biological agents and toxins. For guidance or assistance with DURC related matters, contact biosafety@ucsc.edu.

Avoid restrictions on publication and access

  • Do not accept restrictions on access to or dissemination of information.
  • Do not enter into secrecy agreements or otherwise agree to withhold or delay publication and dissemination of research results. 
  • Do not accept proprietary data that is marked “export controlled,” or sign a non-disclosure agreement without review for such terms. If you receive a non-disclosure agreement, contact the director of industry alliances.
  • Do not provide citizenship, nationality, or visa status information to project sponsors or other third parties, or agree to background checks for project participants.
  • Do not attend meetings from which foreign nationals are barred.

Sanctioned Countries

Certain organizations and individuals are subject to trade sanctions, embargoes, and other restrictions under US law. These restrictions apply to both domestic and foreign transactions. The most comprehensive sanctions involve Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and specific regions of Ukraine (Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk). For the most recent list of sanctions see the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Sanctions Programs and Country Information.

If your research project involves any type of collaboration or transactions with any of these countries, contact export@ucsc.edu before proceeding. The travel or collaboration, if allowable, will likely require an export license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Export control resources

Last modified: May 29, 2024