FAQ

  1. Our department doesn’t do any exporting.  Why do I need to be concerned about export controls?
  2. What if the item is only leaving the country temporarily, is it still considered an export?
  3. What can I do to make sure that I do not violate any export control regulations?
  4. How do I determine if an export license is needed?
  5. What is an Export License?*
  6. How do I apply for an export license?
  7. How are individuals handled who are permanent residents or citizens of countries other than those of their nationality?
  8. What is a Restricted Party Screening?

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.
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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 temporarily exporting an item, check with your compliance officer to determine whether you are eligible for that exemption.
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What can I do to make sure that I do not violate any export control regulations?
Awareness is the key.  Use this website as a resource, consult with the University’s Export Control Compliance Policy Statement and Compliance Manual, which are posted on the Provost’s website, and contact your Compliance Officer with any questions or concerns that you have regarding items or information that you are exporting.
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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.
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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.
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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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How are individuals handled who are permanent residents or citizens of countries other than those of their nationality?
If the individual is a naturalized citizen or permanent resident of the U.S., the “deemed export” rule does not apply.
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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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All questions marked with ‘*’ were copied, in whole or in part, with permission from the Office of Research Compliance at Ohio State University.