Export Control


Export control laws are federal regulations that control the conditions under which certain information, technologies, and commodities can be transmitted overseas to anyone, including U.S. citizens, or to a foreign national on U.S. soil. These federal regulations may impose access, dissemination, or participation restrictions on transfer of items and information regulated for reasons such as national security, trade sanctions policy, or anti-terrorism.

Export control laws have the potential to impact UC Berkeley faculty, staff, students, researchers, and research, especially in fields of science and engineering. When activities involve specified technologies, the campus may need to obtain prior federal approval before allowing foreign nationals to participate in the research, before partnering with a foreign company, traveling with technology to specific countries, shipping or sharing items to specific people or places, or before sharing research results in any manner (including by publication or presentation at conferences) with persons who are not U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens.

If federal approval is required, by way of a license, then the processing time can take several months and there is no guarantee of approval. Faculty should contact the Export Control Office at the earliest moment possible to determine if a license is required so that the process can begin as soon as possible. Waiting until the award stage only to find out that a license is required could significantly delay the start of your award. Contact the export control office early in the process to avoid any delays.

Fundamental Research Exclusion

Most UC Berkeley research activities are excluded from export controls because of a general exception for “fundamental research” under the export control regulations. By not accepting any restriction on publication or foreign nationals, UC Berkeley protects the fundamental research exclusion (FRE). For more information on this and other exemptions, see Exemptions and Exclusions.

What do UCB personnel need to do?

To ensure compliance with export controls, it is important for university personnel to identify when their activities may trigger export controls. When export controls apply, individuals must take the appropriate steps to obtain any required governmental licenses, monitor and control access to restricted information, and safeguard all controlled materials. Faculty should contact the Export Control Office at the earliest moment possible to determine if a license is required so that the process can begin as soon as possible.

The Export Control Officer is responsible for identifying areas that are affected by the regulations, working to ensure compliance with the regulations, and providing the most recent guidance to avoid penalties and delays to research. Please contact the Export Control Office with any questions or for assistance.

Because the application of these laws and regulations can be challenging for those not familiar with them, the University offers several training and educational tools to help the campus. Along with personalized training for individuals or groups by the Export Control Officer, training is available through the online Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program. See Export Control Training for guidance.

Activities with Potential Export Control Issues

Also see Red Flags for items that may involve an elevated risk of non-compliance with the EAR, reputational or political risk, and added administrative costs for managing high-risk engagements.

Areas of Research with Potential Export Control Issues

  • Research on nuclear, chemical, biological, weaponry, missiles, or unmanned vehicles technologies topics
  • Research related to encryption
  • Research involving select agents or other pathogens
  • Using restricted material for research, such as military or space related information, technical data, equipment or software