FAQ & Glossary

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 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 AgencyRegulation(s)Description
    Department of State
    • International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

    • U.S. Minitions List (USML)
    Regulates defense articles, services, and technology.
    Department of Commerce
    • Export Administration Regulations (EAR)

    • Commerce Control List (CCL)
    Regulates dual-use items (items with a military and commercial use) and related technologies.
    Department of the Treasury
    • Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

    Regulates transactions and activities with countries subject to sanctions, boycotts, and embargoes.

  • 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 some items to be temporarily exported that would usually require a license. 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 (see glossary) 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 request 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 request a restricted parties screening by completing a Restricted Parties Screening Request.

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • Anti-Boycott

    The Department of Commerce, has set forth anti-boycott laws that prohibit U.S. institutions and companies from participating in another nation’s economic boycotts or embargoes. If Vanderbilt University is asked to enter into an agreement or provide information that would violate anti-boycott laws, it must report it to the Government, even if the term is negotiated out of the research agreement.

  • Commerce Control List (CCL)

    The Commerce Control List (CCL) is a list of items under the export control jurisdiction of the Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce. The CCL is found in 15 C.F.R. §738.2.

  • Deemed Export

    A deemed export is the transfer of export controlled technology or technical data to a foreign national within the United States. Exposing a non-U.S. Person to export controlled information is considered the same as exporting information directly to that person’s country. It can occur not only when the technology or data is shared with a foreign national, but also when U.S. person provides technical assistance on the development, production, or use of export controlled technology to a foreign national. Methods of transfer can include email, visual inspection, conversation, observation, or demonstration.

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

  • Defense Article

    A defense article is any item or technical data that is specifically designed, developed, configured, adapted, or modified for military or space use. This can include models, mockups, or data for parts and components that make up the defense articles. 22 C.F.R. §120.6

  • Defense Service

    A defense service is providing assistance to foreign persons, whether in the U.S. or abroad, in the design or development of defense articles. This service may be in the form of providing training, engineering, production, testing, repair, maintenance, operation, destruction, or processing of a defense article. 22 CFR 120.9

  • Denied or Blocked Parties

    Certain governments, groups, and individuals are subject to trade sanction programs and other restrictions enforced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These targeted foreign regimes and individuals are typically engaged in activities that are a threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United​ States. They are listed as denied or blocked parties and we are restricted in our interactions with them. Restrictions vary depending on the nature of debarment.

  • 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.

  • Embargo

    Embargo is a trade barrier that results in partial or complete prohibition with a country where most all interactions and activities require authorized export license or license exemption.

  • Export

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

    A more in-depth definition may be found at 15 CFR 734.13 or 22 C.F.R. 120.17.

  • Export Control

    A group of federal laws & regulations that control:

    • Products
    • Services
    • Information

    For reasons of foreign policy and national security and is ever changing.

  • Export Control Classification Number (ECCN)

    The Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) is a BIS classification of items that are subject to the EAR. Each ECCN is unique and licensing requirements vary per country. All ECCNs are listed in the Commerce Control List (CCL) (Supplement No.1 to Part 774 of the EAR).

  • Export License

    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.

  • Facility Access Plan

    As part of a Technology Control Plan (see below), specific measures to control physical access within a facility. These measures may include badges, escorts, segregated work areas, etc.

  • Foreign National

    Any person who is not a

    • U.S. Citizen
    • U.S. Permanent Resident
    • Asylum Refugee as granted by the U.S. Government
  • Fundamental Research

    Research in science, engineering, or mathematics, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the research community, and for which the researchers have not accepted restrictions for proprietary or national security reasons. 15 CFR 734.8(c)

  • Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE)

    An exclusion from export controls for fundamental research that might otherwise be controlled for export by either the EAR or ITAR to be excluded (15 CFR §734.8 and,  respectively), when there is an intent and ability to publish.

  • ITAR Category Number

    The ITAR Category is a DDTC classification of defense articles and services subject to the ITAR. All defense articles and services are listed on the USML in 21 categories. A detailed listing can be found in 22 C.F.R 121.1. ITAR controlled articles and services are restricted to all foreign nationals, wherever located.

  • Knowledge

    As defined in the EAR, Knowledge of a circumstance (the term may be a variant, such as “know,” “reason to know,” or “reason to believe”) includes not only positive knowledge that the circumstance exists or is substantially certain to occur, but also an awareness of a high probability of its existence or future occurrence. Such awareness is inferred from evidence of the conscious disregard of facts known to a person and is also inferred from a person's willful avoidance of facts.

  • License Exception

    An exemption from export controls that allows the export of controlled items without first obtaining a license. These license exceptions have include limited circumstances under which it is applicable and specific criteria that must be met in order to be eligible to use. 15 C.F.R. Part 740.

  • Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

    The office at the Department of the Treasury responsible for blocking assets of foreign countries subject to economic sanctions, controlling participation by U.S. persons, including foreign subsidiaries, in transactions with specific countries or nationals of such countries, and administering embargoes on certain countries or areas of countries. (see 31 CFR parts 500 through 590.)

  • Published or Public Domain

    Information which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public:

    1. Through sales at newsstands and bookstores;
    2. Through subscriptions which are available without restriction to any individual who desires to obtain or purchase the published information;
    3. At libraries open to the public;
    4. Through patents available at any patent office;
    5. Through unlimited distribution at a conference, meeting, seminar, trade show or exhibition, generally accessible to the public, in the United States.
  • Re-export

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

  • Sanction

    A restriction on specific transactions with targeted foreign countries, regimes, and individuals, the level of which is influenced by foreign relations and national security.

  • Technology

    Specific information necessary for the “development,” “production,” or “use” of a product. The information takes the form of “technical data” or “technical assistance.” Information that is generally accessible or available to the public is not “technology” subject to export controls.

  • Technology Control Plan

    A Technology Control Plan is typically project specific and outlines controls to prevent unauthorized disclosure of information. These measures may include IT security and physical security.

  • Tool of the Trade

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

  • Troublesome Clauses

    Clauses that 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 (requires sponsor approval)
    • Participation (based on nationality)
    • Dissemination (limits who can access)

    They can be encountered at both the prime and sub level and if not removed from the agreement, may subject the project to the full weight of export controls.

  • "Use" Technology

    Technology required for the operation, installation (including on-site installation), maintenance (checking), repair, overhaul and refurbishing of an item.

  • 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.

  • Visitor

    A visitor is anyone who not Vanderbilt personnel (faculty, staff, student, post doc, intern, etc.) and is on Vanderbilt property. Examples of a foreign national visitor might be exchange students, collaborating faculty, and conference speakers and attendees that are not Vanderbilt personnel.

  • Waiver

    An authorization by the Vice Provost for Research to set aside the University’s research mission by allowing publication restrictions and/or foreign national participation restrictions.