FAQs, Scenarios

policies and guidance

Content courtesy of the Harvard School of Public Health
All questions marked with '*' were copied, in whole or in part, with permission from the Office of Research Compliance at Ohio State University.

FAQs

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.

...

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What if the item is only leaving the country temporarily, is it still considered an export?

Yes.  An item is considered an export even if it is

  • leaving the United States temporarily
  • leaving the United State but is not for sale, (e.g. a gift)
  • going to a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary in a foreign country
  • a foreign-origin item exported from the United States, transmitted or     transshipped through the United States, or being returned from the United States to its foreign country of origin is considered an export.

There is, however, an exemption for certain temporary exports, so before...

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How do I determine if an export license is needed?

Work with your Compliance Officer to make this determination. Determining whether an export is subject to a licensing requirement is a complicated process that necessarily involves a full understanding of the item. Whether something is controlled for export is not intuitive. License requirements are dependent upon an item’s technical characteristics, the destination, the end use, and the end user.

What is an Export License?*

An Export License is a written authorization provided by the federal government granting permission for the release or transfer of export controlled information or item under a defined set of conditions.  If one is required, the license must be secured in advance of the export.

How do I apply for an export license?

If it is determined that your activity requires an export license, your Compliance Officer will work with you to submit a license request to the appropriate regulatory body on your behalf. It is important to note that obtaining an export license from the Commerce Department usually takes 30 days; a license from the State Department can take several months; and a license from the Treasury Department can take 3-6 months.  Although there is no guarantee that a license will be granted, all three regulatory licenses have granted licenses to Harvard for the conduct of research....

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What is a Restricted Party Screening?

The United States government and its export regulations restrict or prohibit U.S. individuals and companies from exporting or providing services of any kind to any party contained in U.S. government export denial, debarment, and blocked persons lists.  These lists are updated on a regular basis.  A restricted party screening involves a review of these lists to ensure that the person or entity with whom you are interacting is not on one of these lists.  The University has a site license to software which provides easy-to-use screening for denied parties.  ...

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Scenarios

I am doing basic research that includes field work done overseas; does my research qualify under the Fundamental Research Exclusion? *

Your work outside the United States is ineligible for the Fundamental Research exclusion.  To qualify as Fundamental Research, research must be conducted at an accredited institution of higher education located in the United States.  If your research includes work done outside the U.S., then you are ineligible for the exclusion.  The Fundamental Research exemption applies even if such research and informational exchanges are being conducted abroad at an institution that is affiliated with Harvard.  This does not mean, however, that export licenses will be required...

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I am doing basic research at HSPH in collaboration with a foreign lab, do export controls apply?

Sharing only the results of fundamental research with a foreign lab would not require a license. However, most often what you are sharing is more than the fundamental research. We often share fundamental research with a foreign collaborator, so that the collaborator can take the research a step further. That effort may also involve conversations designed to supplement your initial findings that were conducted under the fundamental research exclusion. The new research, even if based on fundamental research, is not eligible for the fundamental research exclusion,...

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I am working as a consultant overseas; do export controls apply to me? *

Yes, export controls apply to all U.S. persons, at all times.  It is important that you understand and comply with your obligations under export control regulations, and you should confirm with the entity that has retained you that it has secured the appropriate licenses in advance of your consultancy.

My research is exempt from export controls under the Fundamental Research Exclusion, can I ship items developed as part of that research overseas?

It depends on whether the items developed are subject to the export control laws.  Although the Fundamental Research Exemption is broad, it generally does not authorize the transfer of physical items outside the U.S. Before shipping or taking any item abroad, even if that item is the result of Fundamental Research, an export control determination needs to be done to determine if a license is required.

Award negotiations with a sponsor for one of my awards are being held up. The sponsor wants to review what I intend to publish before submitting. I’m willing to agree, but my Sponsored Project Administration office says this is a publication restriction.

Harvard University is committed to open research and its policies require there be no restrictions on publication of research.  The Fundamental Research exemption permits only limited review to prevent the inadvertent disclosure of proprietary information or to preserve patent rights.  The Fundamental Research exemption may be nullified if a corporate sponsor insists on a prepublication review.  If the University accepts an award clause that is inconsistent with the Fundamental Research exemption, then HSPH may have to secure an export license for the sharing of...

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I am going to attend a conference in Europe and will be presenting a paper that will be immediately published. I can talk to anyone about the project and what my plans for the future are, correct?

It depends on whether it is controlled under the EAR or the ITAR.

If you are dealing with information that is only controlled under the EAR, and you plan to share results that are ordinarily published broadly within the scientific community and are not proprietary, you may do so.

NO, if it may be controlled under the ITAR (i.e., may be presenting technical information that may be controlled on the Munitions List). In that case, only technical information that has already been published can be freely shared abroad.

Read more about I am going to attend a conference in Europe and will be presenting a paper that will be immediately published. I can talk to anyone about the project and what my plans for the future are, correct?

I am submitting a proposal to the World Health Organization. This includes a survey that will be completed by individuals within the country. The study takes place in many countries, including an OFAC sanctioned country. What do I need to do before I go?

Before anyone travels abroad for any reason, they should check to see whether the activities they plan to do abroad may be controlled for any reason or if there are any restrictions on the individuals or entities with whom the researcher will be interacting.  Each embargo is different.  At this time, the tightest embargoes are on Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan. In addition, as with all research abroad, a restricted party screening should be done for any organizations, business entities, or individuals with whom a researcher knows he/she will be interacting....

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I’ve just made arrangements for some biological materials to be shipped to me from a colleague in Spain. What kind of export control issues do I need to worry about?

Biological materials that are shipped into the United States are imports, not exports, and do not pose any export concerns until it may be necessary to return them to their source.  There are, however, different regulations governing imports.  The researcher should check with Environmental Health & Safety before importing biological materials from a foreign country.

All questions marked with '*' were copied, in whole or in part, with permission from the Office...

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