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Export Control

Export control laws support the national security, foreign policy, anti-terrorism and non-proliferation goals of the United States by imposing restrictions on the transfer of controlled items and information to certain countries and their nationals.  The goal of UT’s Export Controls program is to support and sustain an open, unrestricted and collaborative research environment at UT, while also ensuring that the UT research community is informed and protected when export controls apply.​​​​​​​

UT adheres to all export controls regulations, including:

  1. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) from the U.S. Department of State (Directorate of Defense Trade Controls), which cover items and services related to military/defense applications, including spacecraft and satellites;
  2. Export Administration Regulations (EAR)from the U.S. Department of Commerce (Bureau of Industry and Security), which cover “dual use” civilian/military items and technology; and,
  3. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which covers restrictions due to foreign trade embargoes and economic sanctions.

These regulations determine how technology, technical data, technical assistance, and items or materials (from software to satellites and more) are physically or electronically exported, shipped, transmitted, transferred, or shared by the U.S. to or with foreign countries, persons, or entities.

UT research may be subject to export controls oversight when:

  • The items, materials, technology or technical data used in the research are identified on U.S. export control lists.
  • Researchers work with (formally or informally), or provide technical assistance to, foreign nationals from countries currently sanctioned (e.g., for trade, travel, or terrorism) by the U.S.
  • A research agreement (e.g., contract, award, non-disclosure agreement) limits publication of results or participation in the design, conduct, or reporting of the research based on citizenship.

Some exports require express written permission from the United States government, known as an export license. Penalties associated with non-compliance with export controls can be severe, and may result in fines, jail time, loss of export privileges, loss of research contracts, and reputational damage to specific researchers and to UT.​​​​​​​

Yes, there are several exclusions, and two that are particularly relevant to academic research: the fundamental research exclusion and the public domain exclusion. These exclusions can be lost, however, if researchers sign side agreements (or the University enters agreements, including material transfer and non-disclosure agreements) that contain publication restrictions or restrictions on who can participate in the research. It is crucial that you not sign any such agreements–or any agreements that mention export controls–on your own. For assistance, contact your campus Office of Sponsored Programs (UT Knoxville Division of Research Administration or UT Institute of Agriculture OSP).

The consequences for noncompliance are very serious for both the University and the researcher. There can be monetary fines as well as prison sentences for certain offenses. To learn more, visit the Penalties page.

Export control conditions may impact related research activities, including

  • International travel
  • Overseas shipping
  • Information technology
  • Laptops & software
  • Disposal of controlled items & information

For questions about any of these issues, contact UT’s Export Control Officer, Mr. Chris Godfrey,  The Export Controls Officer supports UT researchers and research administrators and answers questions about and actions required for compliance with export control regulations. Services provided include:

  • Evaluating research activities (e.g., sponsored projects, technology transfers, international travel) for export controls conditions;
  • Assisting with the development of a Technology Control Plan (TCP) if export controls apply to a research activity or project;
  • Obtaining appropriate federal licenses and other approvals for an activity if it is export-controlled; and,
  • Advising on, and monitoring the completion of, required export controls training.

Additional Resources


  • Export Controls apply to transfers out of, as well as some transfers within, the U.S.
  • Export Controls apply to U.S. citizens, anywhere in the world.
  • Export Controls apply to everyone, regardless of citizenship, in the U.S.
  • The Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE) is NOT available for physical shipments.
  • To claim the FRE, research must not have publication or dissemination restrictions.
  • Transfer of proprietary information to a foreign national in the U.S. may require an export license.
  •  Any activity with comprehensively sanctioned countries (currently Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea, certain regions of Ukraine) must be approved by UT’s Export Controls Officer.
  • Penalties for violations include substantial monetary fines (levied against UT and the researcher) and can include jail time in the case of willful violations.


  • “Export Controls do not apply to my shipment because it is non-hazardous.”
  • “Export controls do not apply to my shipment because you can order it on Amazon.”
  • “Everything is research related, so I do not need to be concerned about Export Controls.”
  • “I’m not sending anything out of the U.S., so I do not need to worry about Export Controls.”

UT Export Controls Risk Assessment

  1. Does your research group have or plan to have any engagements with entities located in any of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, Syria, Ukraine, Russia, or North Korea? If yes, please explain.
  2. Does your research group make international shipments? If yes:
    1. What do you ship?
    2. To what country?
    3. Do you obtain Material Transfer Agreements for outgoing material?
  3. Does your research group work with proprietary technology (including third party technology)? If yes:
    1. Please briefly describe the subject matter.
    2. Was an NDA signed by OSP?
    3. Is the technology marked with “EAR”, “ITAR”, or other markings indicating export control?
    4. How is the technology secured?
  4. Do you have any other concerns related to export controls that you would like to discuss?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, please contact Chris Godfrey at to discuss whether and how Export Controls regulations impact your work.

Additional Resources thanks to Cornell University.