License Information

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Export Licenses

Export licenses allow Lehigh University personnel to engage in export controlled transactions, such as authorizing a Foreign Person participation in export controlled research, shipping Controlled Physical Items internationally, etc. Export licenses are the U.S. government’s mechanism for allowing and tracing transfers of export controlled technologies.

Only a university’s designated “empowered official” may apply for a license. The VPR at Lehigh University is the Empowered Official. This means that all export license requests must be initiated through Lehigh University’s Export Control Officer (ECO) in the Office of Research Integrity. The ECO is authorized to make a recommendation to the Empowered Official that the University should seek a license or to document that a license exemption or exclusion applies. If a license is required and the Empowered Official approves seeking a license, the ECO will submit a license request with the assistance of the Office of General Counsel as needed.

The University must submit license requests to the specific federal agency responsible. This includes the Department of State for ITAR-controlled items, the Department of Commerce for EAR-controlled items, and OFAC for OFAC-sanctioned countries.

Advanced planning can prevent unnecessary research delays. Depending on the type of license needed, the U.S. government can take up to a year to review and determine the license request outcome. The U.S. government is not obligated to grant any license request. Types of activities that may require a license include, but are not limited to international shipping, and sharing export controlled data or information with foreign persons - even if they are located in the U.S. The licensing process must be completed prior to engaging in a controlled transaction, including research activity.

If there is concern that a license may or may not be needed, please contact the Office of Research Integrity as soon as possible to allow for an analysis of the need and to process the application.

General Export Control Licensing Process

There are five phases to the export controls license request process: Assessment, development, review and submission, determination, and implementation. It can be time consuming to complete this process, so it is important that it is started as soon as possible. Remember that the activity in question cannot take place until either an export license is obtained or it is determined that a license request is not necessary.

To determine if a license is required, four initial questions must be answered:

  • What is being exported?
  • Is the item exported controlled? If so, which agency controls it?
  • For shipments and hand-carry exports, where is the item being shipped or taken? Who is receiving the item and what is their citizenship?
  • For deemed exports, who is receiving access to the export controlled item? What is their citizenship?
  • How will the item be used?​ What is the purpose of the export?

If it is determined that a license is required, the application process requires additional information gathering depending upon the licensing agency and the export.

Deemed Exports

Foreign Nationals are restricted from gaining access to export controlled items, including through verbal, visual, and written disclosure. Please contact the Office of Research Integrity to determine whether a license is needed if:

  • You are conducting export controlled research and have Foreign Nationals as members of your lab, or
  • A Foreign National in your lab will Use export controlled items. For export control purposes, Use is defined as being able to do all of the following: operation, installation (including on-site installation), maintenance (checking), repair, overhaul, and refurbishing.

Exports and International Shipping

Everything that crosses the border is an export, even if it’s temporary. Items are exports even if they aren't sold, or if they will be used for research. Most physical items, as well as some software and information, are subject to U.S. export controls. International shipping can be mysterious to those of us who do it rarely or occasionally. Subject to export and import controls, duties, taxes and regulations of the 196 countries — each different from the others — even professionals run into problems. Fines, payment of unnecessary taxes, confiscation, or incarceration can all result: it can be costly and time-consuming when it goes wrong.

Refer to the export checklist when shipping to destinations outside of the U.S. to ensure that all regulations are complied with before making the shipment. It is exceedingly difficult to fix problems once an international shipment is on its way. As the shipper of record, Lehigh University is responsible for shipping correctly and with the right documentation. FedEx, UPS, DHL, and other freight forwarders may help or offer advice, and they record the shipment in the government's Automated Export System. However, errors and problems with shipments are Lehigh University’s responsibility and not the freight forwarder.

There are additional U.S. restrictions on transactions — including but not limited to shipping — with certain countries, entities, and individuals. The export checklist can help you determine whether any of these additional restrictions apply to your shipment, and you can always contact ORI for help.

In addition to export control regulations, there are additional considerations to be aware of for hazardous items. Hazardous items need to be packaged and labeled appropriately. Contact Environmental Health and Safety at for assistance shipping hazardous items. These items include, but are not limited to:

  • Biologicals
  • Chemicals
  • Batteries and fuel cells
  • Radioactive materials

It is also important to recognize that every export from the U.S. is an import somewhere else. Shipments will go through Customs in the destination country. Some items may be prohibited or require prior authorization. Some items may incur duty or VAT costs.


All incoming shipments are cleared by U.S. Customs, with varying and unpredictable levels of scrutiny. The University uses a customs broker to clear your import shipments through U.S. customs. The broker will need a number of documents, including but not limited to: power of attorney; copy of the ocean or air bill of lading (shipping documents); copy of the commercial invoice; copy of the packing list. ArcBest is Lehigh’s customs broker (Robert Kimball,, or Larie Elliott,; customer service for international shipments: 877-301-2237)

Some items are restricted at the Customs stage:

  • Biological specimens
  • Certain fish and wildlife, and products made from them
  • Fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, soil
  • Items from Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, and most of Sudan

Some items are restricted at the delivery stage. For instance, some items controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can only be delivered appropriately registered with the DEA.

Based on an item’s tariff code and its value, import duty may be due. The shipment can be delayed or incur unexpected costs if requisite documentation is wrong or incomplete. Once received in U.S. Customs, problems with shipments are difficult to resolve.

Need Help?

Contact the Office of Research Integrity at