Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Export?

The export regulations define an export as:

  • Any oral, written, electronic or visual disclosure, shipment, transfer or transmission outside the United States to anyone, including a U.S. citizen, of any commodity,  technology (information, technical data, or assistance) or software/codes
  • Any oral, written, electronic or visual disclosure, transfer or transmission to any person or entity of a controlled commodity, technology or software/codes with an  intent to transfer it to a non-U.S. entity or individual, wherever located (even to a
    foreign student or colleague at Dartmouth)
  • Any transfer of these items or information to a foreign embassy or affiliate It is important to emphasize that only exports for which the U.S. government requires a license are those that are listed on the export controlled lists. The vast majority of
    exports do not require the prior approval of the U.S. government.  

What Do Export Controls Usually Cover?

When export controls apply, they are frequently, but not exclusively, associated with items, information, and software code within the following general areas:

  • Chemical, Biotechnology, and Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Technology
  • Remote Sensing, Imaging, and Reconnaissance
  • Navigation, Avionics, and Flight Control
  • Robotics
  • Propulsion System and Unmanned Air Vehicle Subsystems
  • Telecommunications/Networking
  • Nuclear Technology
  • Sensors and Sensor Technology
  • Advanced Computer/Microelectronic Technology
  • Information Security/Encryption
  • Laser and Directed Energy Systems
  • Rocket Systems
  • Marine Technology

Who controls exports?

There are three agencies that control exports:

  • The Department of Commerce through its Export Administration Regulations (EAR), Title 15, sections 730-774 of the Code of Federal Regulations. For a list of controlled technologies, see 15 CFR 774, Supplement I.
  • The Department of State (which controls the export of “defense articles and defense services”) under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR 120-
    130. For a list of controlled technologies, see 22 CFR 121.1.
  • The Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions and, based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals, Title 31 Chapter V of the Code of Federal Regulations

What is considered fundamental research?

Fundamental research, as used in the export control regulations, includes basic or applied research in science and/or engineering at an accredited institution of higher learning in the United States where the resulting information, in some cases, is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community and, in other cases, where the resulting information has been or is about to be published. Fundamental research is distinguished from research that results in information that is restricted for proprietary reasons or pursuant to specific U.S. government access and dissemination controls. University research will not be deemed to qualify as fundamental research if (1) the university or research institution accepts any restrictions on the publication of the information resulting from the research, other than limited prepublication reviews by research sponsors to prevent inadvertent divulging of proprietary information provided to the researcher by the sponsor or to insure that publication will not compromise patent rights of the sponsor; or (2) the research is federally funded and specific access or dissemination controls regarding the resulting information have been accepted by the university or the researcher.

What is considered published information?

The EAR and the ITAR approach the issue of publication differently. For the EAR, the requirement is that the information has been, is about to be, or is ordinarily published. The ITAR requirement is that the information has been published.
Information becomes “published” or considered as “ordinarily published” when it is generally accessible to the interested public through a variety of ways. Publication in periodicals, books, print, electronic or any other media available for general distribution to any member of the public or to those that would be interested in the material in a scientific or engineering discipline. Published or ordinarily published material also include the following: readily available at libraries open to the public; issued patents; and releases at an open conference, meeting, seminar, trade show, or other open gathering. A conference is considered “open” if all technically qualified members of the public are eligible to attend and attendees are permitted to take notes or otherwise make a personal record (but not necessarily a recording) of the proceedings and presentations. In all cases, access to the information must be free or for a fee that does not exceed the cost to produce and distribute the material or hold the conference (including a reasonable profit).

What is public domain and why is it important?

Public domain is the term used for “information that is published and generally accessible or available to the public” through a variety of mechanisms. Publicly available software or technology is that which already is, or will be, published. To fall under this exclusion, there are a number of conditions which demonstrate public availability which are enumerated in the EAR.

What if I am doing research in one of the embargoed countries?

Dartmouth may have to apply for a license from the US Treasury Dept in order to be authorized to perform certain categories of transactions that would ordinarily be prohibited by law. Prohibited transactions are trade or financial transactions and other dealings in which U.S. persons may not engage unless authorized by OFAC. For Dartmouth, examples could be funding collaborators or paying field workers in embargoed countries. Currently Dartmouth has a Cuban license to allow academic related travel to and exchanges with Cuba.

If a license is needed, what is the process?

Dartmouth has designated the Director of the Office of Sponsored Projects as its “empowered official” for export control issues.  She will arrange for appropriate support both within the Institute and, where necessary, outside the Institute to address export control and license issues. Unless there is an urgent need for expedited review and approval, it normally takes 4-6 months to secure a license to export controlled materials from the U.S. or to transmit them to a non U.S. citizen or permanent resident within the U.S.


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