International Collaboration: What You Need To Know

What are export control laws?

U.S. laws regulate the distribution to foreign nationals and foreign countries of strategically important technology, commodities, services and information for reasons of foreign policy and national security. Export control laws apply to all activities…..not just sponsored research projects.

 Export Controls are regulated by multiple U.S. agencies (State, Commerce, Treasury, Customs, etc.) and the laws involved can result in severe fines and prosecution. This liability applies to KU and you as a private citizen.

What is the impact of export controls on research?

Export controlled research may require a technology control plan or other specific procedures to address inadvertent disclosure.

Sharing of export controlled materials, equipment, software, items and information may require U.S. government authorization such as a license if your project involves:

a physical transfer/disclosure of an item outside the U.S.

any transfer/disclosure of a controlled item or information within the U.S. to a foreign national

participation of foreign national faculty, staff, or students who requires access to controlled technology

presentation/discussion of previously unpublished research at conferences or meetings where foreign national scholars may be in attendance

research collaborations with foreign nationals and technical exchange programs

 transfers of research equipment abroad

visits to your work areas by foreign nationals

What can be excluded from Export Control laws?

Fundamental research when the results can be widely published and accessible. Information that is considered public domain as well as academic catalog courses can be excluded. These exclusions only apply to technology (“know how”) and not material or software. Contract language or side deals that restrict dissemination of your research destroy the Fundamental Research Exclusion.

Examples when the Fundamental Research Exclusion does not apply:

Sponsor restricts participation of foreign nationals in the project.

Sponsor places 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

The physical export of controlled goods or technology is expected

What projects typically involve export controls?

Any research activity or international collaboration may be subject to export controls if it involves the actual export of any goods, or technology, or related technical data that is either:

"Dual use" (commercial in nature with possible military application) or:

inherently military in nature

research projects involving remote sensors, lasers, micro-electronics

geological surveying

bio-technology development

aerospace engineering

advanced computing

research with controlled chemicals, biological agents, and toxins

What do I need to do?

You and your project team are in the best position to manage export risk which begins with a review to determine if export controls apply and if so, developing a plan to mitigate risk. Additional responsibilities include:

an understanding of how export controls will impact your project during planning and contract review and ensuring appropriate specialists (contract, legal, export, EHS, etc.) are aware of your work in order to provide the necessary support.

understanding applicable export control obligations and participate in regular training in order to be able to identify export control issues

assessing export control risk prior to international travel, hiring a foreign national, international collaboration information sharing, etc.

maintaining awareness for red flags and other export control indicators of potential violations.

ensuring the entire project team have been briefed on export controls and measures needed for regulatory compliance.

understanding that any informal agreement or understanding entered into with a sponsor may impose export control restrictions on the project

contacting the Office of Export Compliance ( for help with export analysis and technology control/security planning.

adhering strictly to any applicable restrictions and cooperating fully with the university's efforts to monitor compliance if it is determined that export controls apply to the project.

Where can I get help?

In addition to KU’s export compliance manual and information on this website, OEC can partner with you to assess regulatory risk for your project, assist with technology control and other risk management planning, and provide custom training for your team.