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. 

If you have any questions on whether your research, travel, collaborations or export of any goods and services are subject to export controls, please contact Jennifer Neira, our School's Export Control Administrator.  Also, see OVPR's Export Controls Policies & Guidance.

Export Controls 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.

Activities that might trigger licensing requirements

  • 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.

Activities that 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.

Shipping/Carrying Materials Overseas

  • Any item that is sent from the United States to a foreign destination is an export.  “Items” include biological materials, chemicals, research materials, software, technology, and information. 
  • The export of controlled items, information or software may require approval from the U.S. government in the form of an export license.  An export license permits controlled tangible items or software to be sent outside the U.S. or controlled information or software to be shared with foreign persons in the U.S. or abroad.

Traveling to, or Collaborating with, Colleagues Overseas

  • Before traveling to countries that may be the subject of sanctions, collaborating with a foreign national outside of Harvard University or any person or entity outside of the United States, or presenting your research at an international conference, conduct an SDN screen.
  • SDN screens may also need to be conducted when enrolling foreign nationals in:
    • Professional or continuing education courses,
    • On-line courses or executive education programs, or
    • Otherwise providing services or receiving funds from foreign nationals
  • The Export Control Guidance on SDN screens provides further information on how to conduct SDN screens, and how to proceed if a screen results in a positive match.
  • You should also reference the points to consider when travelling abroad in the Foreign Travel Issues section of this site. 

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