Exports and You

Electronic Devices and Encryption Software

Taking a laptop abroad, allowing a person in a foreign country to use the laptop or permitting a foreign national access to the laptop in the U.S. may raise export control issues.

Before taking your laptop abroad:

Consult University Guidance Keeping Your Data Safe Abroad and review the software and data on your laptop to ensure that you are not taking any controlled software or technical information out of the country.  This also applies to global positioning systems (GPS.)  

Does this mean you can’t take my laptop abroad?

A licensing exception may apply to the export of a laptop or GPS, which may enable you to take a laptop abroad without violating export controls. Faculty who wish to take their laptops out of the country may be able to do so under the license exception for temporary export (TMP) if the laptop meets the requirement for "tools of trade" and remains under the control of the researcher, or the baggage (BAG) license exception covering personal items that are owned by the researcher and intended only for their personal use. These License Exceptions might not apply if items are shipped or carried to certain sanctioned countries.  Contact Eileen Nielsen,  Harvard Chan School Export Control Administrator to determine whether a license exception applies to you. 

Shipping/Carrying Materials Overseas

  • Any item that is sent from the United States to a foreign destination is an export.  “Items” include commodities, 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.
  • Before carrying, shipping, or otherwise sending materials outside of the United States, you should consult the International Shipping Guidance and the Harvard Chan School, Export Control Administrator to determine whether an export license is required. 

International Collaborations/On-Education and SDNs

In addition to countries, foreign individuals and entities may also be the subject of U.S. sanctions.  These individuals/entities are considered Specially Designated Nationals ("SDNs"). 

  • Before traveling to countries that may be the subject of sanctions, collaborating with a foreign national outside of the Harvard Chan School/University or any person or entity outside of the United States, or presenting your research at an international conference, an SDN screen should be completed.  
  • 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 Controls Guidance:  Specially Designated National List Screening Process and Monitoring provides further information on how to conduct SDN screens. 

Visa Deemed Export Certification

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued a new form I-I29 that requires a change in procedures when the University hires a foreign person as faculty and staff.  A key change to the form is the inclusion of a “Deemed Export Attestation,” which requires the petitioner (i.e. the University) to certify whether visa petitions for certain classes of foreign person work visas will require a license or other government authorization for the release of export-controlled technology or technical data to the foreign person in the United States during their employment.  Under the export control laws, the transfer of such information is “deemed” an export to the country of origin of the individual with whom you are communicating.

To meet this requirement, the University’s visa application now includes a “Deemed Export Certification.”   This certification must be signed by the  Principal Investigator or Department Chair and the School’s Compliance Officer,  attesting whether or not a deemed export license is required prior to  the release of technology or technical data to the foreign person. 


To ensure compliance with this new requirement, the PI/Chair in collaboration with the Export Control Administrator need to review the work the foreign person will be undertaking to determine if one of the above exclusions is applicable.  It is understood that visa applications are frequently time sensitive.

To initiate the review process please provide the following to the Export Control Administrator

  • Name of the applicant
  • Country of origin
  • Letter of support (from visa application)
  • Additional information will be requested as needed to complete the review