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What are "Export Controls?"

Export controls are a series of U.S. laws and regulations that are designed to protect U.S. national security, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, further U.S. foreign policy (including the support of international agreements, human rights and regional stability), and to maintain U.S. economic competitiveness.

Export control regulations govern how certain data, materials, and equipment can be shared with foreign nationals, both by taking or sending outside of U.S. borders and by sharing with foreign nationals present in the U.S.

What Situations Are Likely to Involve Export Controls?

Export controls are U.S. laws that apply to all research and activities conducted at Lehigh whether funded or not. Export controls may cross all academic fields including but not limited to engineering, psychology, biology, chemistry, social sciences and education. Export control laws potentially apply to all research activities whether or not there is a specific citation to export control regulations in the grant or contract governing the project.

The specific relevance of export controls to an individual faculty member's research activity depends on many factors such as the type of research, activity or technology being studied, the participation of foreign national personnel or collaborators, the acceptance of export controlled information from sponsors, engagement in foreign travel and collaborations, etc. 

Faculty activities involving one or more of the following are likely to involve export controls:

  • Requirement of sponsor pre-approval prior to publication of research
  • Sponsor restrictions on foreign national participation
  • Foreign sponsor(s) of research
  • Foreign travel, international research, or collaborating with colleagues in foreign countries
  • Hand carrying export controlled items to foreign countries (e.g. laptops, GPS, unpublished research technical data)
  • Receipt of any sponsor provided information, technology or software marked "Export Controlled"
  • Shipping any physical item(s) including software and/or transmission of technical data to a foreign country
  • Any agreements (NDA, RFP, award, contract, etc.) with export control language
  • Participation of foreign person(s) from a comprehensively sanctioned country
  • Travel to or through one or more comprehensively sanctioned countries
  • Military related research or research with the potential for military applications
  • Work with encryption source code or object code
What Are My Responsibilities For Compliance With Export Controls?

Faculty are primarily responsible for maintaining compliance with export control laws, regulations, and policies, in the conduct of research and scholarly activities. The ECO and Office of Research Integrity will assist faculty in compliance with these activities.

Key responsibilities for Faculty include:

  • Reviewing and confirming understanding and awareness of export control restrictions on research projects prior to accepting the sponsored funding.
  • Developing Technology Control Plans for export controlled research and maintaining compliance with such Plans.
  • Ensuring research team members understand and are aware of export control obligations, including briefing research team members on project-specific obligations and/or Technology Control Plans.
  • Knowing if their data, materials, or technology may be subject to export control, complying with any applicable Technology Control Plans, and taking appropriate action to obtain licenses when sharing export controlled items through data or material transfers, traveling abroad, or presenting at conferences.
  • Working with LTS to determine if loaner laptops and/or devices should be taken when traveling abroad.
  • Complying with all Restricted Party Screening processes.
  • Complying with the Export Control Compliance Review of Sponsored Programs Personnel process when identifying collaborators and staff to work on export controlled research.
  • Complying with the Collaborating Academic Visitors Policy when hosting visiting scholars.
  • Contacting the ECO if hosting non-Collaborating Academic Visitors that may receive access to Lehigh systems, visit non-public facilities, or receive remuneration from Lehigh.
What Types of Information are Excluded from Export Controls?

While research activity involving controlled technology or information and individuals from sanctioned countries is subject to export controls regulations, there are several important exemptions and exclusions to these laws. 

Fundamental Research Exclusion

Fundamental Research means research in science, engineering, or mathematics, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the research community, and for which the researchers have not accepted restrictions for proprietary or national security reasons, such as restrictions on publications or on foreign national participation in research (note that temporary publication delays to ensure publications will not compromise patent rights are not considered publication restrictions). If these conditions are met, the research is exempt from export control laws under the FRE.

Note: the FRE does not apply to use of Controlled Physical Items, Controlled Information, Source Code, Encryption Software, or Technical Data, even if being used in research that is exempt under the FRE. For example, if a research team is conducting Fundamental Research using a Controlled Physical Item, export control restrictions are still in effect for the Controlled Physical Item even though the research itself is considered exempt under the FRE. 

Publicly Available Information

Information is considered publicly available when it is accessible to the public without restrictions on its further dissemination. Examples of publicly available information includes, but is not limited to:

  • Books, periodicals, electronic media, public websites, or other public media sources.
  • Information submitted to journals for consideration with the intent that it be made publicly available, regardless of whether the publication is accepted by the journal.
  • Information readily available in libraries, including university libraries.
  • Patents and published patent applications.
  • Information released at conferences that are open to the participation of all interested persons.
  • Software that is made available to the public without restrictions on its further dissemination, either for free or at the cost of distribution. This does not apply to strong encryption software, regardless of general availability.

Educational Information Exclusion

Virtually all didactic course instruction at Lehigh falls under the Educational Information Exclusion unless such activity constitutes a Defense Service, such as providing training to a member of a foreign military.

Educational information means information that is released as part of instruction during a course listed in the University’s course catalog or associated teaching laboratory. Enrollment should be open to any qualified student at Lehigh.

What Do I Need To Know About International Travel?

All international travelers are required to:

For more information please review our guidance on Information for International Travelers.

What Do I Need To Know About International Shipments?
  • Any shipment of a tangible item to a destination outside of the United States is considered an Export.
  • International shipments include, but are not limited to, equipment, materials, software item(s), etc. Export control requirements apply regardless of whether the item is sold, used for collaborative or individual research, loaned, donated, or shared with an entity or individual outside of the U.S., even if only temporarily.
  • All international shipments must be reviewed prior to shipping to ensure that a license is not required and that items are not being exported to a denied or restricted entity or individual.
  • Faculty planning to complete an international shipment should follow the International Shipment Guidance to ensure all necessary steps are completed prior to any international shipment.

The initial step in the process is to contact the Office of Research Integrity to perform restricted party screening. Restricted party screening is required for all international shipments regardless of item or destination. Please allow at least 5-7 Business Days for review and response before engaging in the planning and shipping process of the tangible item.