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FAQ & Glossary


Frequently Asked Questions

Export Control

What is an export? [-] [+]

An export is any transfer of an item or information to a foreign country or to a foreign national located within the United States. This transmission can be oral, written, visual disclosure, shipment, hand-carrying items while traveling, or providing technical assistance.

What is export control? [-] [+]

Export controls are U.S. laws that regulate the distribution of items or information that have military applications or have “dual use” (having commercial applications, but the potential to be adapted for military use).

What is an export license? [-] [+]

An Export License is a written authorization by the federal government for the export or re-export of goods and technology from the United States. The application process for an export license can take months and there is no guarantee a license will be granted.

What is a license exception or exemption? [-] [+]

A license exception or exemption is an authorization that allows you to export or reexport, under specific conditions, items subject to export controls that would otherwise require a license.

Who oversees export control regulations? [-] [+]

Federal Agency Name of Regulation/Division Exports Covered Description
Department of State

Regulate defense articles, e.g., military technologies such as weapons, chemical and biological agents, vehicles, missiles, equipment, all satellites, space related items and services including related technical data.

U.S. Munitions List (USML):

  • Defense articles
  • Defense services
  • Related technical data listing

There are 21 categories on the USML requiring a license.

Department of Commerce

Regulate the export of “Dual-Use” technologies. That is, technology designed for commercial purposes and with potential military applications, such as computers, software, aircraft, and pathogens as well as the re-export of items.

EAR export control obligations are determined by Classification, Destination, End-user, End-use and Conduct.

Commerce Control List (CCL): EAR controlled items and technology are found on this list.

Export Control Classification Number (ECCN): An alpha-numeric code used to categorize items that are subject to the EAR into one of ten categories and five product groups found on the CCL.

Department of Treasury

Prohibits transactions with countries subject to boycotts, trade sanctions, embargoes. May prohibit travel and other activities with embargoed countries and individuals even when exclusions to EAR/ITAR apply.

Based on U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security Goals.

Also based on U.N. and International Mandates in cooperation with Allied Governments List of Sanctioned Countries and individuals is updated Frequently.

Export Control And I

What is the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE)? [-] [+]

An exemption from export laws and regulations that applies when basic research is conducted free of any publication or foreign national participation restrictions. The majority of basic research performed falls under this exclusion. However, exemption can be lost if your research includes work outside the United States, particularly in a sanctioned or embargoed country.

What is controlled information or controlled technology? [-] [+]

Information or technology necessary for the development, production, or use of a product. Defense articles and services are controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) on the U.S.Munitions List (USML). The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and Commerce Control List (CCL) control defense items that are less sensitive and may have a dual commercial or civil use. 

What is an ECCN? [-] [+]

An Export Control Classification Number is a code used to categorize items (products, equipment, technology, software) that are subject to EAR controls. It identifies reasons for controls and indicates licensing requirements to certain destinations. All ECCNs are listed in the Commerce Control List (CCL) (Supplement No. 1 to Part 774 of the EAR). An ECCN is different from a Schedule B number, which is used to collect trade statistics. It is also different from the Harmonized Tariff System Nomenclature, which is used to determine import duties.

What is EAR99 designation? [-] [+]

Many commercial goods are not on the Commerce Control List and do not have an ECCN. These goods are designated as EAR99 and are still subject to the EAR. EAR99 items generally consist of low-level technology, consumer goods, etc. and do not require a license in most situations. However, if your proposed export of an EAR99 item is to an embargoed country, to an end-user of concern, or in support of a prohibited end-use, you may be required to obtain an export license.

What is TMP? [-] [+]

The Temporary Export Exception (TMP) is a license exception that allows items to be temporarily exported and no license is required. The TMP can only be used for Vanderbilt-owned property that qualifies when these conditions are met:

  1. The item will be used to conduct Vanderbilt University business.
  2. The item will remain under the “effective control” of Vanderbilt personnel while abroad.
  3. The item will return to Vanderbilt within 12 months of departure or be destroyed.

The TMP is not eligible for use on any military items, EAR satellite or space-related equipment, or high-level encryption products. It is also not available when traveling to Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria.

What is a restricted parties screening and when should I perform one? [-] [+]

U.S. laws restrict or prohibit doing business with any party denoted on the U.S. government export denial, debarment, and blocked persons lists. A restricted parties screening is a check against these lists to ensure the individual, business, or organization with whom you are transacting with is not on one of these lists.

You can perform a restricted parties screening by completing a Restricted Parties Screening Request or searching on

When should I contact VEC? [-] [+]

The following are examples of when you should contact VEC:

  • Research that involves controlled information such as defense items or services, missiles, nuclear technology, satellites, chemical/biological weapons, or encryption.

  • Research that involves proprietary or confidential information, either to Vanderbilt or a third-party.

  • Research or collaborations that involves the participation of foreign nationals either at Vanderbilt or abroad.

  • Research that involves international travel or work done overseas.

  • Temporary or permanent transfer of Vanderbilt items, information or technical data overseas. This includes not only shipment of items, but also taking items with you on international travels (ie. Vanderbilt issued laptop, cell phone, tablet, equipment).

  • Research that involves funding from a source located outside the U.S. or restricts publication and dissemination of results.

Am I allowed to . . .

Do export controls apply even when no publication or citizenship restrictions are associated with my research? [-] [+]

Possibly. Only the information (results or data) generated by fundamental research is exempted from export controls. The equipment, software, and technology used to perform the fundamental research may be subject to export control. This is true for commercially available software and technology, as well as software or technology that may be produced during or developed to support research activities. In addition, providing assistance to a foreign national or foreign entity regarding any technology controlled by ITAR is a defense service and requires a license.

I have no external funding supporting my research. Do export controls apply? [-] [+]

Yes. Export controls apply to ALL international activities regardless of the funding status or source.

I am traveling abroad and taking my Vanderbilt laptop with me. Do export controls apply? [-] [+]

Yes. Any item you take with you is considered an export, including physical items (scientific equipment, laptops, phones, smart devices, flash drives) but also to intangible items (software, research data, encryption code). Be aware that once outside of or upon your re-entry to the U.S., your laptop or other items may be subject to search or it may be seized without probable cause, suspicion, or warrant. VEC recommends taking a loaner ‘clean laptop’ rather than your Vanderbilt computer. If a 'clean laptop' is not an option, it is recommended that a Temporary Export Certification (TMP) be completed and have copies made for project documentation and personal keeping. VEC can assist in analyzing software and hardware on devices to help ensure the item(s) are within export compliance guidelines.


Deemed Export [-] [+]

The transfer of export controlled technology or technical data to a foreign national within the United States or abroad. Methods of transfer can include conversation, email, visual observation or application of the technology under the guidance of persons with knowledge of the technology.

Federal Regulations require Vanderbilt to assess whether an export license must be obtained prior to hiring an employee, and to certify to those findings.

Dual Use [-] [+]

Items, information, and software designed for commercial or civil purposes, but with potential military applications.

Effective Control [-] [+]

Retaining physical possession of the equipment at all times or securing the item in a secure environment such as a hotel safe, a bonded warehouse, or a locked or guarded meeting or conference facility.

Foreign National [-] [+]

Any person who is not a U.S. Person (United States citizen, permanent resident, or asylum refugee).

Fundamental Research [-] [+]

Basic and applied research in science and engineering where the resulting information is to be shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.

Re-export [-] [+]

The transfer of controlled items, information, and software from one foreign country to another foreign country.

Release [-] [+]

Technology or software is “released” for export through: Visual inspection by foreign nationals of U.S.-origin equipment and facilities; Oral exchanges of information in the United States or abroad; or The application to situations abroad of personal knowledge or technical experience acquired in the United States.

Tool of the Trade [-] [+]

An item used to conduct Vanderbilt University business, for exhibition or demonstration, or for inspection, testing, calibration, or repair.

Use Technology [-] [+]

Unpublished or disclosure-restricted dual-use information or software source code (binary code is okay) required for the “operation, installation maintenance, repair, overhaul, and refurbishing” of an item or software. If technology released to a foreign national for use of an item or software does not meet all 6 of these attributes, then it does not qualify as “use technology.”

U.S. Person [-] [+]

  • A United States citizen
  • A Permanent resident of the U.S., (a Green Card holder)
  • An asylum refugee as granted by the U.S. Government.

US persons also include organizations and entities, such as universities, incorporated in the US. The general rule is that only US persons are eligible to receive controlled items, software or information without first obtaining an export license from the appropriate agency unless a license exception or exclusion is available.

SPA > Export Compliance > Frequently Asked Questions & Glossary