Export Controls

The Harvard Chan School and University are fully committed to compliance with applicable U.S. laws and regulations pertaining to exports of items, services and technology by or on behalf of Harvard.  The Harvard University Export Controls Policy Statement applies both to the export outside of the United States as well as to exports to foreign nationals within the United States.  Compliance with this policy is the responsibility of all Harvard personnel, wherever located.  For questions about whether your research, travel, collaborations or export of any goods and services are subject to export controls contact Eileen Nielsen the School's Export Control Administrator.

Export Control Defined

“Export” is defined very broadly to include any oral, written, electronic or visual disclosure, shipment, transfer or transmission of commodities, technology, information, technical data, assistance or software codes to

  • Anyone outside of the U.S. (including US citizen)
  • A non-US individual (wherever they are, including within the U.S.)
  • A foreign embassy or affiliate

In some circumstances, the Univeristy may need to receive a license from the U.S. government to engage in such activities.  Whether a license is required in any of these circumstances depends on three factors:  (1) the nature of the item; (2) the country destination; and (3) the end user of the item.

U.S. Export Control Authorities

Department of Treasury Department of Commerce Department of State
Office Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC)
Foreign Asset Control Regulations Export Control Regulations (EAR) International Traffic in Arms Control Regulations (ITAR)
Transactions with sanctioned countries, entities and persons Exports and re-exports of dual-use commodities, software, equipment and technology Transfers of defense articles and provision of defense services

Export Control Exclusions

Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE)

Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE)

The FRE applies to information that meets ALL of the following

  • It results from or arises during basic or applied research in science and engineering
  • The information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community
  • The information is not subject to proprietary or U.S. government publication or access dissemination controls

The FRE applies to the results of research, but does not apply to:

  • Confidential information
  • Tangible items (e.g., prototypes, equipment, samples, etc.)
  • Material shipments or hand-carried items when traveling anywhere outside of the Unites States
  • Research conducted outside of the United States

The FRE is lost if a research project is subject to access, publication or participation restrictions


Public Domain Exclusion

Public Domain Exclusions

“Publicly Available” (EAR) and “Public Domain (ITAR) exclusions apply to information and research results already published and publicly available from

  • Libraries, bookstores, and newsstands;
  • Trade shows, meetings, and seminars in the U.S. open to the public;
  • Published patent applications;
  • Websites accessible to the public (some limitations such as illegally posted information;
  • Courses of a general nature listed in a university catalog

Education Exclusion

Education Exclusion

Both EAR and ITAR contain exclusions to export control laws for certain educational activities

  • EAR:  exclusion for “educational information” released by course instruction and associated teaching laboratories
  • ITAR:  no export controls on “general scientific, mathematical or engineering principles commonly taught in…universities” (but not including technology and materials)

What kinds of activities might trigger export control issues?

In general, the shipment or transmission of items subject to the export control laws out of the United States or the release of technology or software (including source code) to a foreign national, whether in or outside the United States, is considered to be an export under the laws.  Much of the controlled technology to which foreign nationals have access on campus at Harvard will not require licensing because of the exceptions in the regulations for “fundamental research” or “educational information.”  These exceptions apply only to exchanges that occur in the United States.
Activities that might trigger licensing requirements are:

  • International research collaborations;
  • International shipments of certain viruses, equipment, software, or technology;
  • Overseas travel, including conferences;
  • The provision of financial assistance to an embargoed country or person or entity that is considered a blocked or sanctioned party
  • The provision of professional services to a person or entity that is a blocked or sanctioned party or individual from an embargoed country.

Export Control Training

Introduction to Export Controls

Introduction to Export Controls (online)

This 30-minute course provides administrators and researchers with an introduction to export control laws and regulations, and how they may impact University research activities.