Frequently Asked Questions


What do I need to know?

It is important that VUMC employees are aware of export controls and how they may affect their work. The Export Compliance Review Flow Chart may be used as a tool in this analysis.

Export Controls are constantly evolving; expect changes in export compliance measures frequently. The constant fluctuation of the regulations and guidelines points to the importance of reviewing each work-related transaction, project, and associated information independently of previous or current work being conducted at VUMC in an effort to understand the need for controls.

Please visit our website often for updated federal regulations, news, and training information.

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What is an export?

Any shipment, transfer, or transmission (including oral, written, electronic, or visual disclosure) of any commodity (equipment, product, material, chemical, bioagent, etc.), technology (information, technical data, assistance) or software/source code in or to one of the following:

  • Outside the U.S. to anyone, including U.S. citizens abroad,
  • To a non-U.S. entity or individual, wherever they are located (even inside the U.S.)

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What is export control?

Export control laws are U.S. laws that regulate the distribution of strategically important products, services, and information to foreign nationals and foreign countries for reasons of foreign policy, economic objectives and/or national security.

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Who oversees export control regulations?

The three agencies/sets of regulations in the chart below are the most common and influential export control regulations from a U.S. perspective. Additional regulations (that may or may not apply to VUMC) can be found on the second page of the U.S. Export Controls Flow Chart attachment.

Federal AgencyName of Regulations/ DivisionExport CoveredDescription
Department of State

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
22 CFR §120-130

U.S. Munitions List (USML)
22 CFR §121

Regulation of 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 for all articles.

USML: Defense articles, defense services, related technical data listings

There are 21 categories on the USML, all requiring licensing considerations.

Department of Commerce

Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
15 CFR §730-774

Commerce Control List (CCL)
Supplement 1 to §774

Regulation of exports of controlled goods, products, materials, equipment, related technology and "dual-use" technologies.

Dual-use = Items and/or technology designed for commercial purposes but with potential military applications/uses; e.g. computers, software, certain aircraft, and pathogens.

*This category includes re-export of items.

The EAR determines export control obligations by Classification (of items/technology), Destination, End-User, End-Use, and Conduct.

There are 10 categories and 5 product groups on the CCL. EAR-controlled items and technology are found on this list.

Export Control Classification Number (ECCN): A 5-character alphanumeric code used to categorize items that are subject to the EAR according to the 10 categories and 5 groups listed on the CCL.

Department of TreasuryOffice of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
31 CFR § 500-598
Prohibits transactions with countries subject to boycotts, trade sanctions, and embargoes. May prohibit travel and other activities with embargoed countries and individuals even when exclusions to the EAR/ITAR may apply.

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

Also based on U.N. and International mandates in cooperation with Allied Governments of sanctioned countries and individuals.

DPL: Denied Parties List
Multiple lists managed by many governmental departments and institutions that are updated requently.

RPS: Restricted Party Screening
Conducted to determine if any party to transaction is found on the DPLs.

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Who is responsible for export compliance?

Each individual is responsible and held accountable for exporting information and items, within or outside of the U.S.

Penalties for non-compliance are severe and can result in organizational and/or personal monetary fines, termination from occupation, temporary or long-term prevention of export privileges, and/or imprisonment sentencing.

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When should I contact VUMC Export Compliance (VUMC EC)?

1. Any time you have an export concern, questions, or issues related to your VUMC duties and responsibilities.

2. When equipment, software, samples, materials, chemicals, biological agents, or technology/technical data will be temporarily or permanently exported from the U.S.

3. When you will be working with prototypes, software, or technology/technical data if supplied by a vendor, sponsor, third party, or overseas (foreign) agent.

4. When ITAR-controlled (defense or military) equipment, software, or technology/technical data may be utilized or generated in the conduct of the proposed activities.

5. When any work, collaboration, travel, hiring, or communication with any individuals or entities from or affiliated with any Tier 1 or Tier 2 Country of Concern as found here:

6. When any party, such as an individual, company, or other organization to the proposal, award, or other agreement is a foreign military or party acting on behalf of a foreign military.

7. When a sponsor, collaborator, or other party asks you to exclude or restrict the participation of a foreign national(s); tells you the information, materials, software, equipment, etc. are subject to export controls; or requests you not to publish or discuss your results without prior approval.

8. When the results of research or development have an obvious military use or purpose.

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Can I take my VUMC-owned laptop, smartphone, PDA, or other electronic device on foreign trips?

Taking VUMC-owned electronic devices, such as commercially available laptops, smartphones, tablets, PDAs, etc., outside of the U.S. is considered an export. These items may be taken out of the U.S. for use during approved business trips under the following conditions:

1. The travel is considered temporary, with return to the U.S. being required in 12 months or less. Doing so necessitates the completion of an International Travel Questionnaire ("ITQ") prior to travel. The traveler is responsible for completing the ITQ form and sending a copy to VUMC EC at export@vumc.org at least 10 business days prior to travel.

  • Exceptions are not available at this time for trips to any Tier 1 or Tier 2 Country of Concern as found here: https://www.vumc.org/globalsupport/countries
  • When taking computers abroad: General "tools of the trade" exceptions include standard operating systems (i.e. Windows, Macintosh OS) and mass market software (i.e. Microsoft Office).
    • All other types of proprietary or export-controlled technology/technical data must be either pre-approved or removed prior to international travel and evaluated separately to determine if a license is required or if a valid exception exists for the traveler's intended destination(s).

2. The traveler requests and is approved for a different (applicable) export licensing exception, accepting all responsibilities for adhering to the subsequent record-keeping requirements and conditions as set forth under applicable federal export regulations.

3. The traveler requests, or the determination is made through VUMC EC and/or General Counsel, that an export license is necessary based on a review of the materials or technology being exported. The traveler is not authorized to export any item or technology such time as the license application has been approved by the respective U.S. governmental department, reviewed by VUMC EC, and archived in VUMC's records.

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

Yes. Only the information (results or data) generated by fundamental research is exempted from export controls. The equipment, materials, software, and/or technology/technical data used to perform the fundamental research may be subject to export controls. 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 under the ITAR is a defense service and may require an export license or U.S. Government-approved agreement.

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Can classes or courses be subject to export controls?

Information concerning general scientific, mathematical, or engineering principles commonly taught in schools, colleges, universities, and/or institutions of higher learning, as listed in course catalogs or part of established teaching or laboratory curricula is not subject to export controls.

Exceptions to that general rule pertain to high-level encryption software and/or access to related to ITAR-controlled defense articles (including technology/technical data) as a part of a university course, especially when foreign nationals are involved. Such activities may require a license. Even if no foreign nationals are associated, it is important that all faculty, staff, and especially visitors understand the applicable export controls and compliance measures necessary in order to prevent inadvertent violations.

Depending on the topic, workshops and classes other than catalog-listed courses (e.g. those developed for a specific audience, interest group, departmental seminar, government agency, or private company) may be subject to export controls. It is the responsibility of the instructor or presenter to ensure that their presentation doesn't violate U.S. export controls by (1) disclosing controlled technology or technical data or (2) providing a defense service to a foreign entity without the appropriate license or agreement in place.

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How long does it take to obtain an export license?

As not all items require an export license, VUMC's recommendation is to consult directly with VUMC EC prior to export any items, technology, or information that may be subject to export controls.

If a license is necessary based on a review of the entire transaction, lead times for the approval process are different for each and every case. As little as a few days to as much as weeks or months may be necessary for a full compliance review from an institutional standpoint before it is forwarded to the U.S. government for federal approval.

**Please be sure to contact VUMC EC as early as possible when exporting of any kind may be concerned, so as not to delay any project progress or research.**

Special Note: Applying any information, including publicly available information, to assist a foreign entity in the accomplishment of a defense purpose is a violation of U.S. export control law.

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I purchase equipment, materials, supplies, etc. for faculty members in my department. Is there anything I should do to help prevent possible export control violations?

Yes. For all items, other than the exceptions below, ask the vendor or manufacturer for the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) of the item(s) you are purchasing. The manufacturer or vendor is in the best possible position to know the export control status of their goods. The ECCN is a five-character alphanumeric code (which can include sub-designations), e.g. 1C351 or 1C351.a.10.

If the vendor or manufacturer won't or can't provide the ECCN, VUMC EC can assist in attempting self-classification; however, as we are not the most knowledgeable party on other entities' designs, products, or intentions, this process can significantly delay a classification or licensing determination.

For items intended for use outside of the U.S.:
Consider having the items drop-shipped to the foreign location by the manufacturer or vendor in order to save on shipping charges. An added advantage to this request is that the manufacturer or vendor then has a vested interest in export compliance and share liability for any export control violation(s) that occur. Again, the manufacturer or vendor is in the best position to know the ECCN of their own goods/products.

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Where else can I find guidance/specifics on export controls?

The VUMC Export Compliance Office is always available to assist and guide you in the matter of export controls. You are also welcome to research your topic of interest directly through the U.S. Government's respective departments, established for administration of the U.S. Export Control Laws:

1. Department of Commerce: Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) - Export Administration Regulations (EAR)

2. Department of State:
Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) - International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

3. Department of Treasury:
Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) - Foreign Asset Control Regulations (FACR)

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