Export controls

Although federal laws restricting exports of goods and technology have been in existence since the 1940s, the federal government has increased its scrutiny of export control compliance by colleges and universities due to concerns about homeland security, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and unauthorized releases of technology to U.S. economic competitors.

Export control regulations cover shipment of controlled physical items, such as scientific equipment that require export licenses from the United States to a foreign country and transfers of controlled information, including technical data. 

The university must also comply with federal regulations when faculty and students travel to certain sanctioned or embargoed countries for purposes of teaching or performing research.


The University of California has a long tradition of academic freedom, which includes the principles of openness in research, freedom of communication, and unfettered inquiry. University policy (pdf) states that “freedom to publish results is a major criterion of the appropriateness of a research project.”  In addition, university policy states that “access to university classrooms, libraries, laboratories, and specialized research facilities is open, without regard to citizenship, residency status, or visa category.”

Recently, federal officials have expressed concern about academic research that could result in the disclosure of information that would be harmful to the national security interests of the United States. In addition, all international shipments of research materials must strictly comply with U.S. export control laws. Therefore, the University of California, through its faculty and staff, must ensure that it performs its research in a manner that complies with governmental regulations and university policy.

Basic export control advice

  • Prior to shipping research equipment or materials out of the country, work with your export control manager or Vice Chancellor for Research's office to determine whether an export license is required.
  • Publish research results in a timely manner through one of the means that qualifies as "publicly available" or "in the public domain."  Consult with your technology transfer or patent office if the data concerns a patentable invention.
  • Do not accept restrictions on access to or dissemination of information.
  • Do not provide citizenship, nationality, or visa status information to project sponsors or other third parties, or agree to background checks for project participants.
  • Do not attend meetings from which foreign nationals are barred.