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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Export Control

The Export Control Office works with UW–Madison researchers and administrative staff to ensure compliance with the U.S. Export Control laws and regulations, including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and Foreign Asset Control Regulations (FACR).

There are a number of activities that have potential export control implications. It is important to contact the Export Control Office for guidance if you are doing any of the following activities:

  • Traveling abroad
  • Shipping items abroad
  • Working with foreign collaborators, whether in the United States or overseas.
  • Working with controlled items (examples include lasers, thermal imaging cameras, select agents, space qualified equipment and encryption. The list is long, please contact the Export Control Office for advice on specific items.)
  • Working with a grant or other contract that has an export control clause, publication restriction or personnel restriction
  • Doing any work with a person, business or organization that is a citizen of or headquartered in Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea, Cuba or the Crimea.

If you have doubts about whether an activity falls within export control, please contact the Export Control Office and we would be happy to discuss your situation with you.

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) – The ITAR are overseen by the Department of State. They regulate military items and information. Items regulated under the ITAR can be found in the U.S. Munitions List (22 CFR 121) and include naval vessels, ordnances, military jets, tanks, their software, components and accessories.

Export Administration Regulations (EAR) – The EAR are overseen by the Department of Commerce. They regulate dual use items and information. Dual use items are commercial items that could be used for military, terrorism, nuclear proliferation or similar purposes. The items regulated under the EAR can be found in the Commerce Control List (15 CFR 774 – Supplement No. 1), and include items such as lasers, telecomm equipment, IR sensors, computers, electronic test equipment, encryption, their software, components and accessories.

Foreign Asset Control Regulations (FACR) – The FACR are overseen by the Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) in the Department of Treasury. They regulate assets, persons and organizations. These regulations are not concerned so much with what is being shipped, but rather where and to whom it is being shipped.

While the regulations above are the key Export Control regulations, other government agencies, such as the Departments of Defense and Energy have additional regulations that may impact specific research projects.

Exports include a wide variety of things beyond simply putting something in a box and sending it abroad. An export can include any of the following:

  • Shipping an item overseas
  • Sending an e-mail to a foreign person
  • Making a phone call or sending a fax to a foreign person
  • Any electronic transfer of information abroad
  • Deemed exports

Deemed exports occur any time a foreign person gains access to information, data or technology in the United States. At that point it is deemed to have been exported to their country of citizenship.
Examples of deemed exports include:

  • Foreign persons working in a lab
  • Sharing information with a foreign person in the United States regarding a project
  • Taking foreign persons on a tour of a lab with controlled equipment
  • Speaking with foreign collaborators at conferences being held in the United States

A foreign person is anyone who is NOT:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A permanent resident/green card holder
  • Someone granted asylum, refugee status or amnesty by the government
  • A US company, university, organization or government division

Please remember, green card holders are U.S. persons, whereas persons here on work or student visas are Foreign Persons.  Additionally, foreign students of any level are counted as foreign persons for export control purposes.

The Fundamental Research Exemption states that an export license is not required to transfer fundamental research to foreign persons. Fundamental research is defined as information, technology or software generated from research at an institute of higher learning the results of which are ordinarily published. Most research conducted at UW–Madison falls under this exemption.

Three things are important to remember with this exemption, however.

  1. The resulting information may be exempt from export controls, but the equipment used in that process may still be controlled and require an export control analysis.
  2. A publication restriction (in the project award) can negate this exemption as it is seen as hampering the researcher's ability to publish their results.
  3. Non-disclosure agreements (NDA) may restrict the researcher's ability to publish technical information covered by the NDA. Please contact the Export Control Office prior to signing a NDA to determine the impact it may have on your project.

Licenses are required when no exemption can be found for a research activity, particular item or specific person in regards to a project.  The need for a license will depend upon the commodity being shipped, its destination country and/or the person/organization receiving the item.  It generally takes 1-2 months to submit and receive a license from the Departments of State and Commerce.  Licenses from the Department of Treasury may take considerably longer.  All licenses are submitted by the Export Control Office.