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One of the primary purposes of Vanderbilt University is to create and disseminate knowledge in an open and free research environment. However, the University recognizes that some research may be subject to export control laws and regulations. See our Research Flyer for additional information.

How do you know if your research is controlled? 


Most items and information are controlled to some degree

 control scale


The U.S Department of Commerce, through the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), maintains the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which regulates dual-use items and technologies (those with both civil and military applications) on the Commerce Control List (CCL). The degree of control on this list varies per item, and in order to determine that degree, it is important to know the export classification, or the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN).

  • EAR99 is an export classification indicating an item is subject to the EAR but is not listed with a specific ECCN on the CCL. Under most circumstances, EAR99 items do not require an export license.
  • "600 Series" items on the CCL are more sensitive items which were previously controlled on the United States Munitions List (USML) or are covered by the Wassenaar Arrangement Munitions List.

The U.S. Department of State, through the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), administers the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which regulates defense articles and services for the development or design of military and space applications; the USML, which is organized by 21 categories of control.

Examples of technologies controlled by the EAR and ITAR are listed here.

Classification of Research

Most all items and technologies are controlled to some degree. Just because it is not labeled does not mean it is not controlled. Just because you bought it commercially does not mean it is not controlled. If you do not know the classification of your research, the most reliable method of locating it is to contact the manufacturer or sponsor and ask for the ECCN or ITAR category. If you need additional help, contact to assist with a self-classification. Keep in mind, in general, while almost every item located within the U.S. is subject to export, most do not require an export license.

Export Control Exclusions

Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE)

"Fundamental research" is an important concept for universities and refers to "basic or applied research in science, engineering, or mathematics, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, and for which the researchers have not accepted restrictions for proprietary or national security reasons." Most research at Vanderbilt falls under the fundamental designation, which means it is excluded from export controls by the EAR and/or ITAR; this is known as the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE).

It is important to understand which items and technologies do and do not qualify:

Does Qualify Does Not Qualify
Software Tangible Items
Information resulting from research Input information (work done prior)
ITAR defense services
International Shipments
Research conducted outside the U.S.

FRE Facts

Did you know you can lose the FRE and subject yourself and your research to export controls? The following circumstances negate the ability to use the FRE and subject your research to the full weight of export laws and regulations:

Educational Information Exclusion

Information that is normally taught or released by the university as part of the instruction in a catalog course and associated teaching laboratories is considered Educational Information and is not subject to export controls.

Public Information Exclusion

Information that is already published or is out in the public domain is considered public information and is not subject to export controls. Examples of information in the public domain include:

  • Books, newspapers, pamphlets
  • Publicly available technology and software
  • Information presented at conferences, meetings, and seminars open to the public
  • Information included in published patents
  • Websites freely accessible by the public

Troublesome Clauses and Restrictions

Troublesome clauses may be found in research agreements and negate the ability to use the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE). These clauses contain restrictions on one of the following:

  • Publication
  • Participation
  • Dissemination or access

These can be encountered at both the prime and sub-level and, if not removed from your research agreement, may subject the project to the full weight of export controls. Examples include:

Restriction Clause
Publication DFARS 252.204-7000 Disclosure of Information
FAR 52.227-17 Special Works
FAR 52.227-14 Rights in Data
Participation  NFS 1852.225-71 Restriction on Funding Activities with China
AFRL 52.004-440 Foreign Nationals Performing Under Contract
ER 52.0000-4017 Foreign Nationals
DEAR 952.204-71 Sensitive Foreign Nations Controls
Dissemination DFARS 252.204-7008 Compliance with Safeguarding Covered Defense Information
DFARS 252.204-7009 Requirements Regarding Potential Access to Export-Controlled Items
DFARS 252.204-7012 Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting
NFS 1852.225-72 Access to Sensitive Information
NFS 1852.204-73 Release of Sensitive Information

*List is not all inclusive

Troublesome clauses most often appear in industry contracts with a defense prime, but the general restrictions may appear in any type of research agreement. If troublesome clauses appear in your research agreement, work with your Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) representative to attempt to negotiate these out. If they are not removed, contact VEC to determine next steps of action.


SPA > Export Compliance > Research & Foreign Collaborations