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Export controls

U.S. laws and regulations governing the transfer of controlled items or information to foreign nationals or entities

Export controls apply to all international research activities. In general, basic research conducted at the University 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.

During the initial stages of project development, WSU investigators must ensure that appropriate measures have been taken to comply with export control regulations.

Examples of issues that MAY require export control review

  • Taking a laptop computer outside of the United States
  • Meetings with foreign nationals or entities
  • Work conducted on or off campus with foreign nationals
  • Accessing a United States database(s) from a foreign country
  • Any physical items or technology being exported out of the U.S.
  • If the Fundamental Research Exemption no longer applies, see ORSO Guideline 27.

If you are exporting any materials or working with a foreign national or entity

The Office of Research Assurances must review any potential export control considerations.

What is the Fundamental Research Exclusion?

The Fundamental Research Exclusion provides that the information and software (except certain encryption source code) that result from fundamental research are outside the scope of EAR- or ITAR-controlled technical data, and may be disclosed to non-US persons without specific U.S. government authorization. No license is needed to share these results, even if they relate to items or technologies that are otherwise controlled.

Fundamental research is defined as “applied research in science, engineering, or mathematics, where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from research, the results of which are restricted for proprietary reasons or specific U.S. government access and dissemination controls.”

The definition of fundamental research looks not only to the nature of the work but also to whether or not there are any restrictions on publication of the results or participation in the project. Contract clauses, terms and conditions, or verbal agreements that forbid the participation of foreign persons, give the sponsor the right to approve publications resulting from the research, or otherwise restrict participation in the research or access to and disclosure of the results mean that a project is NOT fundamental research.

Remember, the fundamental research exclusion applies specifically to results of research, but the inputs to the project may remain export controlled. For example, confidential/proprietary information shared by a sponsor of the project may be export controlled and should not be shared with foreign nationals without first conducting an export control review. Similarly, providing export controlled technical data on a piece of laboratory equipment used by foreign nationals during the conduct of the research may require an export license (a.k.a., “deemed export”).

For more information

See Office of Research Support and Operations Guideline 27: A Question and Answer Guide on Export Controls of Research Projects



For more information on compliance with export control regulations, please contact:
Doug Cuellar, program specialist 2
Office of Research Assurances