Overview of Export Control and Economic Sanctions Regulations

Export Controls

U.S. export control and economic sanctions regulations exist to protect national security, foreign policy, and domestic economic interests. Export control regulations identify items, software, technology and services that may require an export license to transfer out of the U.S. Additionally, the release of controlled technology to a foreign national inside the U.S. is considered to be a "deemed export" to the individual's home country and is subject to the same licensing regulations.

Export controls usually arise for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The nature of the export has actual or potential military applications or economic protection issues
  • Government concerns about the destination country, organization, or individual
  • Government concerns about the declared or suspected end use or end user of the export

Licensing exports is one of the ways the federal government keeps track of who has access to sensitive items, information, technology, and software.

Economic Sanctions

Economic and trade sanctions programs prohibit transactions with certain countries, institutions, and individuals in order to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals. Prohibited transactions are trade or financial transactions, and other dealings such as providing services, in which U.S. persons may not engage unless authorized or exempted by statute.

Who administers export controls and economic sanctions regulations?

Several federal agencies are responsible for export control laws and regulations. Primary jurisdiction resides with the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce and the Treasury. For details on what each department regulates, definitions and other important compliance information, please see:

U.S. Department of State (ITAR)

U.S. Department of Commerce (EAR)

U.S. Department of the Treasury (OFAC)

Other regulatory agencies with export controls relevant to University activities include the Departments of Agriculture and Energy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

What does the University export?

The University exports every day. We export ideas and information (technology) through innovation, creation, and sharing with students, staff, colleagues, and visitors on campus and in our research labs. Every time we ship or travel internationally, we export equipment, technology, and/or knowledge.

Common activities that might include export control or economic sanctions considerations include:

  • Payment and receipt of compensation, honoraria, and contracts
  • Attendance at, or planning of, international conferences
  • Involvement of foreign students or collaborators in research in which controlled technology is used
  • Shipping or disseminating controlled items or information internationally
  • Provision of services to foreign nationals, including training in the use of controlled equipment in or outside the United States

Exclusions, Exemptions, and Exceptions

Recognizing the importance of academic freedom and sharing research results to the furtherance of knowledge, the federal government has excluded certain kinds of information from export controls. The majority of the University's activities are excluded from export control and economic sanctions regulations. Export control regulations generally do not apply to information that is:

  1. In the public domain/publicly available
  2. Released through instruction in academic catalog-listed courses
  3. The result of Fundamental Research

Because there are exceptions to these exclusions, always consult with Sponsored Projects if there is uncertainty about the export control status of any University activity.

In certain situations, an activity controlled for export may be allowed without a license if a license exception applies to the activity. The conditions for license exceptions can be very narrow and must be strictly adhered to. The use of a license exception must be documented by the Office of Sponsored Projects and records kept for a minimum of five years.

Penalties for Export Violations

Violations of export control laws can result in both civil and criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Although there is a maximum amount for a civil or criminal penalty, the actual penalty can be multiplied by the number of unauthorized exports. Even a single unauthorized export may result in multiple violations (e.g., export without a license, false representation on shipping documents, acting with knowledge of a violation, etc.).

In assessing penalties, DDTC, BIS, and OFAC will consider mitigating factors. Mitigating factors include whether the disclosure of the violation was made voluntarily; whether the violation is an isolated incident or part of a pattern of continuing behavior; whether the institution had a compliance program in place at the time of the violation; whether steps were taken to improve the compliance program after the discovery of the violation; and whether the violation was due to inadvertence, mistake of fact, or a good faith misinterpretation of the laws.

In addition to civil and criminal penalties that may apply under applicable laws to individual University personnel/students and to the institution, violation of export control laws and regulations may subject the violator to remedial or disciplinary action in accordance with the Board of Regents' Code, Title 2, Chapters 6, 8, and 10, and applicable institutional policies and procedures for misconduct, up to and including termination or dismissal.

Violation of export control laws should be reported to the Export Control Officer in Sponsored Projects. Most importantly, if there is a question as to whether an activity would be a violation of the export control laws and regulations, contact the Export Control Officer prior to engaging in the activity.

For more information and assistance

For more information, see "Policies and Procedures for Export Controls and Economic Sanctions Compliance," "Export Controls Training," or contact the Export Control Officer, Michele Dondanville, in Sponsored Projects at mdondanville@unr.edu or 775-784-6360.