Information for International Travelers

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Applicability of Export Controls to International Travel

  • Export Control and International Sanctions regulations are federal law and apply to all persons in the U.S.
  • These laws and regulations apply regardless of whether you travel abroad on University business or as a private individual.
  • Distinguishing between private and University business travel is important. There is no requirement to engage with the Lehigh University Export Control Officer (ECO) when traveling in a private capacity.
    • University policy states that “University business travel is defined by the IRS as movement on official business of the University from one’s home or normal place of employment to another destination, and return from there either to one’s normal place of employment or home. Commuting between one’s home and regular place of employment is not University business travel.”
    • International trips may incorporate both private and University business travel. Faculty and staff are responsible for engaging the ECO as needed for the University business portion when combining business and personal travel.


Export controls could be triggered by international travel, depending on:

  • Where the traveler is going: Sanctioned or embargoed countries have tighter controls, including prohibitions on imports and exports of products and services. Travelers going to sanctioned or embargoed countries must plan and coordinate in advance with the ECO. Obtaining licenses can take several months, and federal approval of license applications is not guaranteed.
  • The following countries are currently comprehensively embargoed:
    • Cuba
    • Iran
    • North Korea
    • Syria
    • Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine
  • OFAC also maintains targeted and list-based sanctions against specific groups or specific sectors in the countries/regions below. Contact the ECO prior to traveling to or engaging in research/collaborations with any of the countries/regions listed below:
    • Africa: Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo Libya, Somalia, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, South Sudan
    • Asia: Myanmar (formerly Burma)
    • Middle East: Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen
    • Europe: Balkans, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine
    • South America: Venezuela
  • What the traveler is bringing abroad: When leaving the U.S., even temporarily, with university equipment, software, or technology, the items may be subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations. Travelers must verify that items may be exported to travel destinations without a license or special government authorization. In most cases, common items, software, and technology may be taken out of the U.S. under the Export Administration Regulations “No License Required” declaration, unless being taken to a comprehensively sanctioned country.
  • The ECO should be engaged prior to travel or export involving any of the following:
    • Special research equipment, such as drones, GPS systems, thermal cameras, or any other devices, systems, or software that are not standard, off-the shelf products generally available to the public.
    • University owned commodities, software, or technology. This does not include export of commercially available laptops, tablets, phones, or other devices with standard commercially available software to non-sanctioned countries.
    • Laptops with special software, other than the most commonly commercially available software. Proprietary software, software that includes encryption, or other complex software may require a license and must be reviewed in advance by the ECO.
    • Special materials, e.g. biological or chemical materials.
    • Devices, systems, or software specially designed or modified for military or space applications.
    • Controlled, proprietary, confidential, or classified data or information. This includes data or analyses that result from a project with restrictions on the dissemination of research results.
    • Special equipment or material, when the proposed end-use of the item differs from regular research activities (e.g. the end-use is for the development, testing, or production of weapons or systems to deliver weapons).

Generally okay to take to most countries without a license: May require a license for some travel. Consult with ECO prior to travel: Cannot be taken abroad without explicit permission from ECO and applicable federal licenses:
  • Most laptops, iPads, tablets, iPhone and Android cell phones, most jump and flash drives (provided they do not contain export controlled / classified data or information)
  • Any item classified as EAR99.
  • Research equipment, including drones, microscopes, thermal or infrared cameras, or special software, with a classification other than EAR99.
  • ITAR-controlled equipment, including software, technical data, or restricted information stored on a laptop or other device. 

  • What the traveler is doing while abroad:
    • If taking special research equipment or materials, an export license may be required for certain proposed end-uses.
    • Conducting research or doing fieldwork, including interviews, surveys, and data collection, can be restricted. Seemingly benign research activities in certain sanctioned countries may be considered “services” and may be prohibited without a license.
    • Teaching, giving a lecture or talk, attending a conference or presenting research in certain sanctioned countries requires a license. Presenting data or information in an international setting that is not published, publicly available, or qualifies as Fundamental Research or for the Educational or Public Information Exclusions may constitute an unauthorized export.
    • Collaborating or interacting with local individuals or organizations can be restricted. There are multiple federal lists that address trade sanctioned individuals, persons, groups, and organizations. Certain interactions and transactions with these people or entities may be prohibited.
    • Payments or financial transactions with a non-U.S. individual, business, or entity may be prohibited by export control laws and regulations. Individuals and entities should be screened against the sanctioned party and entity lists. Travelers should also be aware that it is illegal for U.S. persons to pay anything of value to a foreign official for the purposes of obtaining, retaining, or furthering business activities, per the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The table below provides a basic summary of what is permissible regarding comprehensively sanctioned countries:

Country Travel Research/Lecture
Cuba Prohibited under most circumstances Generally prohibited without a license
Iran Generally allowed
North Korea
Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine


When to contact the ECO prior to international travel:

  1. Travel to a comprehensively sanctioned country.
  2. Traveling to a country with targeted or list-based sanctions programs.
  3. Taking special research equipment, materials, data, or software.
  4. When taking special research equipment, the proposed end-use is different from regular Lehigh research activities.
  5. Collaborating with a local individual or organization that is or may be on a Restricted or Denied Party list.


Lehigh’s Travel and Business Expense Policy

Lehigh’s Travel and Business Expense Policy establishes all of the general requirements for University faculty and staff international travel. International travel by University students is governed by the International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC).


Required Use of Lehigh University’s Travel Agent

All international University business travel must be booked directly through the University’s travel agent, Collegiate Travel Planners. More information on the policy and the procedure for booking international travel is available on the Controller’s website.

All international University business travel must be registered through Lehigh University’s International SOS program (ISOS). Information regarding ISOS is available on the Office of Risk Management’s website. Registration for ISOS is found on the Office of International Affairs website.


Temporary Export Exception (TMP)

Even when taking certain Controlled Physical Items, Controlled Information, Technical Data, Source Code, or Encryption Software, a license exemption may be available through the Temporary Export license exception (TMP).

The TMP allows for various temporary Exports and Re-Exports of Lehigh-owned items, technology, or software, so long as:

  • the Exported item will remain in the traveler’s physical custody and control for the duration of travel and
  • will return to the U.S. no later than one year from the date of original Export or Re-Export.

This exception does not apply to:

  • Satellite or space-related equipment, components, or software.
  • Encryption items controlled under ECCN 5E002.
  • Items controlled by ITAR.
  • Travelers to embargoed countries.

A TMP self-certification form is available here. A TMP must be completed for each international trip and whenever any changes occur. Contact the ECO if you are not sure if the TMP applies or if you have questions about its contents.


BAG Exception

In addition to the TMP exception, the Export License Exception BAG (Baggage) allows those leaving the U.S. temporarily to take personal items, including personal hardware, software, and retail-level encryption items, so long as the items are for their personal use. Individuals leaving the U.S. temporarily must bring back the items they exported under this license exception unless the items are consumed or destroyed abroad.

A BAG self-certification form is available here. A BAG must be completed for each international trip and whenever any changes occur. The BAG Exception does not apply to technology associated with high-grade encryption products and ITAR-controlled items (i.e. defense articles and services). Contact the ECO if you are not sure if the BAG applies or if you have questions about its contents.


Export Control Licenses

International travel typically does not require an Export license or specific approvals by the ECO, except in certain circumstances:

  • Travel to countries that are comprehensively sanctioned or have strict trade restrictions imposed by the U.S. government requires advance planning.
  • Taking Controlled Physical Items, Controlled Information, Technical Data, Source Code, or Encryption Software may require a license depending on the type of item, destination of the travel, and End User.


Lehigh University Loaner Laptop Program

LTS administers the Laptop and Mobile Device Loaner Program, which provides clean devices on loan (i.e., devices without export controlled data or software).

Whether you travel with a personally-owned or Lehigh-owned device, consult with LTS to ensure that hardware, software, and data is properly secured for international travel.

Certain countries, including China, Israel, and Russia, restrict the import and use of encryption tools and do not allow cryptography tools to be imported or used within their border without a license, or in some cases, at all. Under these restrictions, any country can potentially confiscate devices entering or leaving their borders. Lehigh strongly recommends traveling with a loaner laptop.