Stephen F. Austin State University

Export Control Frequently Asked Questions


There is no external funding supporting my activities. Do export controls apply?
Yes, export controls apply to all international activities regardless of funding status or source.
How can export controls affect my research?

"Export" is defined not only a physical transfer/disclosure of an item outside the U.S., but also as a transfer/disclosure in any form of a controlled item or information within the U.S. to anyone who is a foreign national (not a U.S. citizen or permanent residence). This is called the "deemed export" rule. As a result, unless an exclusion or exemption is available, the University may be required to obtain prior governmental approval (in the form of an export license) before allowing the participation of foreign national faculty, staff, or students in affected research. In some cases, a license may not be available at all based on the country involved.

The following are additional examples of situations in which a license may be required:

  • Presentation/discussion of previously unpublished research at conferences and meeting where foreign national scholars may be in attendance.
  • Research collaborations with foreign nationals and technical exchange programs.
  • Transfers of research equipment abroad.
  • Visits to your lab by foreign scholars.
What kinds of projects raise export control questions?

Any research activity may be subject to export controls if it involves the actual export or "deemed export" of any goods, technology, or related technical data that is either 1) "dual use" (commercial in nature with possible military application) or 2) inherently military in nature.

Work in the following areas is considered high-risk:

  • Engineering
  • Space sciences
  • Computer Science
  • Biomedical research with lasers
  • Research with encrypted software
  • Research with controlled chemicals, biological agents, and toxins

In addition, any of the following raise export control questions for your project:

  • Sponsor restrictions on the participation of foreign nationals in the research
  • Sponsor restrictions on the publication or disclosure of the research results
  • Indications from the sponsor or others that export-controlled information or technology will be furnished for use in the research
  • The physical export of controlled goods or technology is expected.
I am doing basic research in collaboration with a foreign researcher or institution. Do export controls apply?
Yes, export controls apply to all international research activities. In general, basic research conducted at SFA is not subject to export controls under the Fundamental Research Exclusion as long as it is not in an export restricted area and there are no restrictions on publication or access by foreign nationals. However, in cases where SFA research involves collaborations with foreign nationals, SFA must perform a review of the research and document that the Fundamental Research Exclusion or other exclusion does or does not apply.
What is the Fundamental Research Exclusion?
Fundamental Research is defined by the National Security Decision Directive 189 (NSDD189) as "any basic or applied research in science and engineering, the results of which are ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community…" In order to qualify as Fundamental Research, the research must be conducted free of any publication restrictions and without any access or dissemination restrictions. Research that qualifies as Fundamental Research is not subject to export controls as provided for under the federal regulations. It is critical to note that the Fundamental Research Exclusion will be lost if a researcher agrees to any "side-deals" allowing sponsors the ability to review and approve publications or to control access to the project or project results. Loss of the Fundamental Research Exclusion can quickly put your research in jeopardy of non-compliance with export controls.
I am doing basic research that includes field work done overseas. Does my research qualify under the Fundamental Research Exclusion?
Maybe. To qualify as Fundamental Research, research must be based at an accredited institution of higher education located in the United States. If you research includes work done outside the U.S., it may not qualify for the Fundamental Research Exclusion. This does not automatically mean that export licenses will be required, but it does mean that an export control determination needs to be done before the work begins.
My research is exempt from export controls under the Fundamental Research Exclusion. Can I ship items developed as part of that research overseas?
Not automatically. While research results developed or generated under the Fundamental Research Exclusion are exempt from export controls and can be freely shared with foreign nationals both here and abroad, any materials, items, technology, or software generated as a result of the research are not exempt from export controls. Before shipping or taking any item abroad, an export control determination needs to be done to determine if an export license is required to take or transfer the item.
What is the Educational Information Exclusion?
Information that is normally taught or released by the university as part of the normal instruction in a catalog course or in an associated teaching laboratory is considered Educational Information and, as provided for under the federal regulations, is not subject to export controls.
What is the Published Information Exclusion?
Information that is already published or is out in the public domain is considered public information and, as provided for under the federal regulations, is not subject to export controls. Examples of information in the public domain include: books, newspapers, and pamphlets; publically available technology and software; information presented at conferences, meetings, and seminars open to the public; information included in published patents; and websites freely accessible by the public.
What is an Export License?

An Export License is a written authorization provided by the federal government granting permission for the release or transfer of export controlled information or item under a defined set of conditions.
What kinds of activities can trigger the need for an export license?

The following are examples of the types of university activities that may trigger the need for an export license or deemed export license:

  • Research in controlled or restricted areas (e.g., defense items or services, missiles, nuclear technology, satellites, chemical/biological weapons, encryption)
  • Research involving the use of export restricted information obtained from external sources
  • Research involving collaborations with foreign nationals at SFA or overseas
  • Research involving travel or field work done overseas
  • Research involving the transfer or shipment of tangible items or equipment overseas
  • Presentations at meetings or conferences of unpublished information not protected under the Fundamental Research or Educational Information exclusions.
  • Research involving the provision of financial support or services outside the U.S.
How do I know if I need a license?
Determining when you need an export license can be very complicated. Use the decision tree on this website, and take the supplied training.
Are commercially-available items free from export control licensing requirements?
Yes, in most cases, low-end items that are commercially available do not require export licenses. There are some important exceptions including items containing strong encryption technology or software (e.g. laptop computers, web-enabled cell phones), items that have dual use applications (e.g. high end GPS units), or that are restricted under other regulation.

Contact Information

General Export Control Questions:

Rebekah Raney
Compliance Coordinator
Office of Research and Graduate Studies
(936) 468-1067