Foreign Travel Issues

Foreign travel raises a number of issues for researchers, as any trip outside the United States has the potential for the researcher to export both items and technical information that may be controlled.  It is important to keep in mind a few simple points before traveling abroad.

First, the export-control laws do not distinguish between an item that is shipped and an item that is carried.  Thus, if it is unlawful to ship an item to a certain country without a license, it is also unlawful to take it with you.  Although laptops are ordinarily licensed by the manufacturers for export to most countries, you may not be permitted to bring the same equipment to an embargoed country without first securing a license.

Second, the destination of a researcher determines what export controls or regulations apply.  There are several websites that researchers should check in advance of their departure.

Third, particularly if you are traveling to an OFAC-sanctioned country, you may need a license to spend certain funds in that country.  As an example, under the Iranian embargo, you are permitted to spend money on hotels, food, or transportation without a license, but you may need a license from the Treasury Department in order to contract with local individuals and purchase certain supplies for research. 

Fourth, travel abroad always involves meeting new people; researchers are no exception.  Export control issues can arise, however, when a researcher interacts with people during scientific discussions or conferences in which controlled technical information may be exchanged.  There is no export control issue if the researcher is presenting research results that have already been published.  However, if the data have not been published, the researcher must ensure that there is no technical information included that may be controlled.  Although you are eligible for the fundamental research exclusion when you are studying on campus at an accredited university in the United States, the fundamental research exclusion does not apply when you are abroad. Although you are eligible for the fundamental research exclusion when you are studying on campus at an accredited university in the United States, the fundamental research exclusion does not apply to new research conducted abroad even if that new research takes place at an educational institution (including Harvard facilities) abroad.

Fifth, travel abroad may also involve engaging in transactions with individuals or business entities which may be restricted. 

If you have any questions regarding your travel abroad please contact Eileen Nielsen