Export Control FAQ’s

There is no external funding supporting my international activities. Do export controls apply?

Yes, export controls apply to all international activities regardless of funding status or source.

Can I ship items to a foreign country that were developed as part of a Fundamental Research project?

Not automatically. While research results developed or generated under the Fundamental Research Exclusion are exempt from export controls and can be freely shared with foreign nationals both here and abroad, any materials, items, technology, or software generated as a result of the research ARE NOT exempt from export controls. Before shipping or taking any item abroad, an export control determination needs to be done to determine if an export license is required to take or transfer the item. Contact exportcontrol@unl.edu for help in determining your license requirements.

What is the Educational Information Exclusion?

Information that is normally taught or released by the university as part of the normal instruction in a catalog course or in an associated teaching laboratory is considered Educational Information and, as provided for under the federal regulations (15 CFR§734.3(b)(iii), is NOT subject to export controls.

What is the Published Information Exclusion?

Information that is already published or is out in the public domain is considered public information and, as provided for under the federal regulations (15 CFR§734.7 and 15 CFR§734.11), is NOT subject to export controls. Examples of information in the public domain include:

  • Books, newspapers, pamphlets
  • Publically available technology and software
  • Information presented at conferences, meetings, and seminars open to the public
  • Information included in published patents
  • Websites freely accessible by the public

What is an ECCN?

“ECCN” stands for Export Control Classification Number and is an alpha-numeric code used to categorize items that are subject to the EAR into one of the ten categories and five product groups within the Commerce Control List (CCL).

What does the EAR99 classification mean?

EAR99 is the general “catch-all” classification number assigned to any item that is subject to the EAR but that does not have a specific export control classification number listed in the Commerce Control list. By far, the vast majority of U.S. origin goods are classified as EAR99, and under most circumstances, do not require a license for export.

What should I do if I think I might need a license?

Determining when you need an export license can be very complicated. The Export Control staff can assist you in determining if a license is required and/or if there is a valid license exception or other exclusion that may apply. Contact the Export Control staff at exportcontrol@unl.edu for help with export controls.

What is an Export License Exception?

An Export License Exception is a special authorization that allows you to export or re-export, under very specific conditions, items that would otherwise require an export license. Export License Exceptions are detailed in EAR§740.

What happens when I obtain or use export controlled information from an outside entity?

Research conducted at UNL that includes or uses export controlled or restricted information or items obtained from an outside entity does not qualify under the Fundamental Research Exclusion and would be subject to all export controls.  Before export controlled information or items are received by the researcher, please contact the Export Control Staff. In some cases, a formal Technology Control Plan will need to be created depending on the specific circumstances.

I am working as a consultant or collaborator overseas. Do export controls apply to me?

Yes, export controls apply to all U.S. persons, at all times. It is important that you understand and comply with your obligations under export control regulations. If you are consulting or collaborating in a restricted technology area (e.g., on dual-use technologies or select agent work), then you may need an export license depending on where you are going, what information you are providing, who you are providing it to, and what they intend to do with it. If the destination or end-user is a foreign national of a sanctioned country, then in most cases any consulting or collaborating activities could be prohibited. Please contact the Export Control Staff for review.

What Is an Export?

The term “export” can mean several things, depending on context. Generally, exports involve at least one of the following transactions:

  • A shipment or transmission of physical items or information from inside the United States to a recipient outside the United States
  • A release of information to a foreign person in the United States

This means that providing information to certain people inside the US is treated the same way as shipping physical goods from the US to someone in another country. In both cases, the law treats these transactions as exports.

What is a Deemed Export?

A deemed export refers to the release or transmission of information or technology to any foreign national in the U.S., including students, post-docs, faculty, visiting scientists, or training fellows. A deemed export is treated as an export to that person’s home country. Applicability can change dependent on researcher technology and specific export controls. Deemed exports are a primary area of export control exposure for the university.

What is a Dual Use Item?

A dual use item is any item that can potentially have a military application as well as a commercial or civilian purpose (e.g., GPS units).

What Is a “Foreign Person”?

A “foreign person” is anyone who is not a “U.S. person.” A U.S. person is any of the following:

  • A United States citizen
  • A lawful permanent resident (also called a “green card-holder”)
  • A refugee
  • An asylee

Anyone who doesn’t fit into one of these five categories is considered a “foreign person.” This means that faculty, staff, and students at UNL with work or student visas are considered “foreign persons” for the purposes of export controls.

Keep in mind that companies and other organizations are also treated as “persons.” Any company not organized to do business in the United States, as well as any international organization or agency of a foreign government, should be treated as a “foreign person.”

More detailed information about the agencies’ respective regulations can be found on the Regulatory Information page.

What Is a “Controlled Item”?

Each agency has developed its own rules and regulations regarding exports of goods, information, and money. Certain items present greater risk to national security than others, so the Departments of State and Commerce have developed lists of sensitive materials and technologies that require certain extra precautions. The term “items” in this context includes both physical objects and intangible information.

Items appearing on either list may require a license before they can be transferred to other countries or used for research projects. In the event that your project requires such a license, UNL’s Export Control staff and empowered official are the only persons authorized to apply for such licenses on your behalf.

The two most important lists of export-controlled technology are:

Generally, a piece of equipment or data falls onto either the USML or CCL. In very rare circumstances, certain items are subject to control under both lists. Contact the Export Control Staff for more information.

What Is an Export License?

An export license is formal approval from a federal regulatory agency to export a controlled item to a specific person in a specific place for a specific purpose. Either the BIS or the DDTC, depending on whether the item is specified on the Commerce Control List or United States Munitions List, respectively, issues export licenses for most controlled items.

When the recipient of an intended export is located in a country subject to a comprehensive embargo, special approval needs to be obtained from OFAC (in addition to any approval required by other agencies). Countries subject to comprehensive embargoes include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, (North) Sudan and Syria. Several other countries are subject to less stringent embargoes, but may still require a license for travel and other transactions.

At UNL, the Export Control staff and empowered official have sole authority to determine whether a particular transaction requires an export license. They also have sole authority to apply for export licenses on behalf of UNL faculty, students, and staff.

Export licenses require very specific answers to the following questions:

  1. What are you exporting?
  2. Where are you exporting it to?
  3. Who will receive it?
  4. How will they use it?

License applications typically take about 60-90 days to process, so you should plan to contact the Export Control staff as early as possible to determine whether a license is required and begin gathering the necessary information.

What Is “Fundamental Research”?

Sometimes, a research project may produce information that would normally be subject to export controls and require an export license in order to be shared with colleagues in or from other countries. However, the results of “fundamental research” projects are specifically excluded from these licensing requirements in most circumstances.

Keep in mind that even if the fundamental research exclusion applies, it applies only to the results of the research. If the conduct of the research includes activities subject to export controls, a license must be obtained before any foreign nationals can participate in those activities.

“Fundamental research” generally refers to basic and applied research in science and engineering, where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community. In order for research data to qualify for the “fundamental research” exclusion from the licensing requirements, it must meet two criteria:

  1. Research results must be freely publishable; and
  2. There must be no limitations on access to or dissemination of research results on the basis of national origin.

If either condition is not met, this exception is destroyed and dissemination of the data may require a license. For example, certain terms in a statement of work or research agreement might prevent a project from qualifying for the fundamental research exclusion. These include terms that:

  • Grant the sponsor pre-approval rights over publication of research results
  • Allow the sponsor to claim resulting research information as proprietary or trade secret
  • Prohibit foreign nationals from participating in the project
  • Restrict the publication or other dissemination of research results from a given project

UNL’s Export Control staff and empowered official are the only persons authorized to determine whether a research project at UNL qualifies as fundamental research.

What happens if we violate the export control laws?

The consequences for noncompliance are very serious for both the University and the investigator (including fines up to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment up to 10 years for individuals). These penalties apply to single violations; multiple violations in the same project can easily result in enormous penalties.

What kinds of projects raise export control questions?

Any research activity may be subject to export controls if it involves the actual export or “deemed export” of any goods, technology, or related technical data that is either 1) “dual use” (commercial in nature with possible military application) or 2) inherently military in nature.

The following examples are the type of university activities that might trigger the need for an export license or deemed export license.

  • Research in controlled or restricted areas (e.g., defense items or services, missiles, nuclear technology, satellites, chemical/biological weapons, encryption)
  • Research involving the use of export restricted information obtained from external sources
  • Research involving collaborations with foreign nationals here at UNL or overseas
  • Research involving travel or field work done overseas

In addition, any of the following raise export control questions for your 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

Do you offer Training?

We provide export control training across the UNL campuses; it can be scheduled for small or large groups. Contact the Export Control Staff for additional information.

Where can I get help?

Any time you have a question about the application of export controls at any stage of a specific research project, or have general questions about export controls and research, contact Export Control Staff at 402 472-6929 or exportcontrol@unl.edu.


International Travel FAQ’s

What is Subject to Export Control in relation to international travel?

Materials (print or electronic version) which includes technology, software, and information related to the design, production, testing, maintenance, operation, modification, or use or controlled items, tech equipment, confidential, unpublished, or proprietary information, data or items with current military applications.

What is Not Subject to Export Control in relation to international travel?

Basic marketing information on function or purpose; information regarding general scientific, mathematical or engineering principles commonly taught in universities; or information that is generally accessible in the public domain or which falls under the Fundamental Research Exclusion.

Which countries have a comprehensive embargo that may require a license to travel to?

Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan, and Libya.

Where can I find the International Travel Checklist?

The International Travel Checklist is now available in NUgrant under the Export Control Module. If you have not used NUgrant previously your Blackboard credentials can be used to log in to NUgrant.

What if I have greater than standard encryption on my laptop or I am worried about taking my laptop with me?

The Export Control Staff has wiped laptops available for your use if you would like to take one in order to ensure no information or technology is accidentally shared while on your trip.

Who is required to complete the Travel Checklist?

  • Faculty, staff and students planning international travel where UNL is paying for any part of your trip to a country with sanctions, embargos or risk alerts.
  • Faculty, staff and students traveling with UNL equipment, may need to complete the checklist regardless of destination. Please contact the Export Control office for further guidance on whether a checklist is required for your travel.

Personal Travel – You are not required to fill out this checklist for your personal international travel. However, if you are traveling with a UNL laptop please contact the Export Control office to determine if a checklist is required based on your travel destination.

How will I be notified to complete the Travel Checklist?

You will receive an email notification via NUgrant after you have completed your travel authorization through SAP:

  • If you are traveling to a destination that has sanctions, restrictions and/or risk alerts, you will receive an email notification that you are required to complete the Travel Checklist.
  • If you are NOT traveling to a destination with export control concerns, you will receive an email notification with general travel information and precautions, along with information regarding other requirements that may apply to your travel.

When do I need to complete the Travel Checklist?

Within five (5) business days of completing your travel authorization through SAP. For special circumstances where international travel is arranged under short notice a checklist should be completed no less than 48 hours from your international flight.

What happens once my Travel Checklist is submitted?

The checklist will be reviewed and approved by the Export Control office. The Export Control Staff may contact you to get additional information to complete the export review process.

Questions should be directed to Export Control Staff at 402-472-6929 or exportcontrol@unl.edu.


International Travel Caution Information

Remember: If you don’t need it – don’t take it with you!!

Prepare your laptop before leaving the U.S. Remove anything that constitutes a trade secret, proprietary information, export-controlled information or technical data. Keep in mind that you will need to do more than just delete files to ensure that they cannot be easily recreated. Use an electronic “shredder” program to erase the information you do not want to share so it cannot be recovered.

Encrypt and then e-mail to yourself any information you may need while overseas. Do not retrieve the e-mail until you have reached your destination, and remember to remove it completely before returning to the U.S. or before crossing any international border.

Never let an electronic device out of your sight, and always be aware of your surroundings.

  • Be aware of the persons, companies, conferences, universities or others that you visit/meet with. Export Control can also be the transfer of knowledge to a person or country’s representative.
  • Presenting information that is not in the public domain or not fundamental research may fall under Export Control regulations. However, discussion of future sponsored programs, allocation of funding, financial data, etc., although not available as public information it is not subject to export control.
  • If you are attending a closed meeting (not open to all technically qualified members of the public): Please be aware that there are “denied” entities with whom UNL is prohibited from doing business. The Export Control Coordinator can quickly screen these entities prior to your travel to check they are not on any denied list.
  • If you plan to travel with an electronic device such as a laptop, smartphone, tablet, GPS or other technology software, please be aware that it is important it is only used as a “tool of the trade,” to only conduct UNL business (e.g. present at a conference, conduct research projects, teach etc.), and that it will be under the “effective control” of UNL personnel while it is abroad. Note: “Effective Control” is defined as retaining physical possession of an item or maintaining it in a secure environment such as a hotel safe or a locked or guarded facility.
  • It is important to inform the Export Control Coordinator if you plan to share UNL-developed, non-commercial encryption software in source code or object code, not already published via one or more of the following:
    • Books, print, electronic or other media available for general distribution to any member of the public
    • Libraries open to the public, unrestricted subscriptions, news-stands or bookstores
    • Published patents
    • Conferences, meetings, seminars or tradeshows in the S. that are generally accessible to the public
    • Websites available to the public free of charge or at a minimal fee

The Export Control Coordinator has wiped laptops available for your use if you would like to take one in order to ensure no information or technology is accidentally shared while on your trip.