Our department doesn’t do any exporting. Why do I need to be concerned about export controls?

Any item that is sent from the United States to a foreign destination is an export.  “Items” include commodities, software, technology, and information.  How an item is transported outside of the U.S. does not matter.  Some examples of exports include:

  • Items sent by regular mail or hand-carried on an airplane
  • Design plans, blue prints, schematics sent via fax to a foreign destination
  • Software uploaded or downloaded from an internet site
  • Technology transmitted via e-mail or during a telephone conversation.

Regardless of the method used for the transfer, the transaction is considered an export for export control purposes. 

In addition to regulating the export of actual goods abroad, the U.S. export control laws cover the export or release of technical data or technology to a foreign national, whether it occurs in the United States or abroad.  The release of such information is “deemed” an export from the United States to the home country of the foreign national.  Much of the controlled technology to which our international students and scholars have access on campus at Harvard, however, will not require licensing because of the exceptions contained in the regulations for Fundamental Research or Educational Information exclusions.