Export Controls Policy

Export controls, which govern international commerce and safeguard national security, have been a part of United States law since the 1940s. They have evolved over the past several decades into a sophisticated set of regulatory tools with broad application. As such, they can impact a range of activities, from shipping items overseas to transferring technical data to non-U.S. persons on campus.  

Many activities at Princeton are not subject to export controls because Princeton supports the free publication of research results. In addition, the University does not allow research sponsors to exclude individuals from participating. As a result, our research generally qualifies for the Fundamental Research Exclusion to export control regulations. However, even when the results of a research project are excluded, the export of any equipment developed during that project may still require an export license.

Policy and Overview

Princeton’s Policy on Export Controls

U.S. government export control regulations are designed to protect the national security, economic security, and foreign policy interests of the United States. It is important that University faculty, staff, and students be familiar with the regulations in order to ensure that the University remains in compliance with the regulations while continuing to succeed in its teaching and research activities.

Princeton University is committed to complying with all United States export control laws and regulations, including the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) administered by the Department of Commerce, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) administered by the Department of State, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations administered by the Department of the Treasury.

As a premier research university in the United States, Princeton University supports the free dissemination and open publication of research results. As a result, Princeton University research projects qualify for the Fundamental Research Exclusion to export control regulations. Although academic research activities at the University qualify for the Fundamental Research Exclusion and therefore are not subject to export control regulations, there are certain situations in which the export of tangible items, technical and scientific data, or software is either prohibited by law or requires an export license or other government approval.

Penalties for violations of export control regulations vary and may include loss of export privileges, damage to the individual’s or University’s reputation, criminal and/or civil penalties. All persons on Princeton’s campus, whether researchers or otherwise, are responsible for recognizing whether the technology or equipment involved in their work might be export controlled. They are also responsible for complying with all applicable export control regulations. The Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA) and the Office of the General Counsel are available to assist researchers in their compliance efforts.

Physical, Technical, and “Deemed” Exports

There are three main types of exports:

  • Physical exports occur when shipping, mailing, or hand-carrying an item overseas.
  • Technical data is exported when it is transmitted overseas, whether electronically (fax, email, phone) or through the physical export of data (e.g. FedEx).  Software uploaded to the internet may also be considered an export.
  • Deemed exports occur when transferring controlled technical data or software source code to a non-U.S. person within the U.S.

Note: Items that were originally imported into the U.S. from overseas and are being sent back to the country of origin are still an export. Once a foreign-produced item arrives in the U.S., it becomes subject to U.S. export control regulations. For this reason, export controls should always be considered before sending a piece of equipment overseas, even if you are simply returning it to the overseas manufacturer or supplier.

    Implications for Researchers and Shippers

    Export controls can apply to anyone. As such, it is the responsibility of each member of the University community to ensure compliance with regulations, including seeking an export license when required. That being said, the majority of information shared with students and research collaborators is not subject to export control regulations. 

    Research Concerns

    As a researcher, you may need to use export controlled equipment or technology in a lab setting. You may also need to share export controlled technical information or data with non-U.S. persons on your team. If you do so without fully understanding the constraints of these laws and regulations, there could be serious consequences. Please refer to the Export Control Information for Princeton University Researchers document found on this page for more information.

    Deemed Exports

    Export control issues are of particular concern when non-U.S. persons participate in research projects. A deemed export could occur by providing controlled technology to visiting faculty, research assistants, and students. Learn more about deemed exports.


    The majority of Princeton’s international shipments do not require an export license. However, it is important to understand when they apply. Learn more about exports and imports.

    Do You Need To Call The Export Control Office?

    If you answered YES or UNSURE to any of the questions, call John 609-258-3819, Brian 609-258-1544 or email exports@princeton.edu
    Will you be shipping equipment or materials outside of the U.S?
    Does your research agreement prevent you from disclosing information generated during the course of the project or limit participation by foreign persons?
    Are you receiving confidential information that may be subject to export control regulations from a third party?
    Am I travelling to, making payments to, or working with persons from a sanctioned country?
    Will foreign persons in my group have access to export-controlled technology (i.e., a deemed export)?