US Export Laws

Export control is governed by a group of federal regulations designed to advance the national security, foreign policy, and economic interests of the United States. These regulations have been around since the early 20th century. In 1949 the Export Control Act (implemented by the Export Administration Regulations - EAR) was enacted, and in 1976, the Arms Export Control Act became law (implemented by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations - ITAR). Since 9/11, scrutiny of compliance with export control regulations has increased significantly.


US Department of State

US Department of State controls technologies developed for military applications or designed to military specifications under a set of laws referred to as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Components and technologies designated “ITAR” have the highest-level of export control restrictions and generally cannot be “exported” to any non-US person without a license.

Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC): The DDTC, in accordance with 22 U.S.C. 2778-2780 of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), is charged with controlling the export and temporary import of defense articles and defense services covered by the United States Munitions List (USML).

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) 22 CFR Parts 120-130- Governs “defense articles and services and related technical data” (items and information specifically designed or adapted for military use. Examples are firearms, satellites, spacecraft, military equipment, toxicological and biological agents, and associated equipment).

• ITAR Embargoed Countries: http://www.pmddtc.state.gov/embargoed_countries/index.html


US Department of Commerce

US Department of Commerce controls all other technology not under the jurisdiction of Department of State (above) or considered to be in the public domain. The more sensitive technology is designated with an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) and requires an export license to export to many parts of the world. All other technology is designated “EAR99” and can be exported to most, but not all locations, without a license.

Export Administration Regulations (EAR) 15 CFR §§734-774- Controls items that have both a commercial and potential military use. Examples are computers, lasers, and pathogens. The Department of Commerce also administers lists of individuals or organizations denied or debarred from export transactions or that may require a license for export.

• The Commerce Control List (CCL) is the list of controlled items by ECCN. The ECO is available to help departments review the CCL and determine whether they have controlled technology.

• The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is the division of the Department of Commerce responsible for administering export regulations.


US Department of the Treasury

US Department of the Treasury controls financial transactions (including certain exports and services). Traveling researchers need to be aware of associated Treasury laws when visiting sanctioned countries.

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) 31 CFR 500-599 - Administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.


Other Federal Agencies and Links

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)

Office of Patents and Trademarks (PTO)


DOD Policy on Fundamental Research

National Security Decision Directive 189

June 26, 2008and May 24, 2010DOD memos regarding Fundamental Research