Remote Study and Work During the Pandemic: Export Control Considerations

Last Updated: August 1, 2020

The University continues to monitor the situation related to COVID-19 and its impacts on students, faculty, staff, and researchers that are working remotely during this time.  The following information is intended to provide general guidance on export control-related issues which may affect the University community.

Providing persons with export controlled materials or data may require an export license under the laws and regulations that govern the export of any item or technology from the United States to a foreign country or to non-U.S. persons. United States government export controls apply to the following:

The University has an established export controls process to review items, articles, materials, supplies and equipment shipped to individuals working in remote locations. 

Shipments to Persons Overseas

Due to the unusually large number of shipments that are expected to be made immediately prior to the start of classes, we are asking that departments provide a list of all items to be sent to persons overseas so that the export control review process can begin in advance of the shipment being prepared. 

The following guidance applies to all shipments of physical items (e.g., FedEx shipment) or electronic transfers (e.g., software download).

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) has also posted information regarding Remote Learning and Sending Course Equipment/Supplies/Kits to Students.  If you are unsure whether to submit the information to EHS or Export Controls, please submit to EHS and the offices will coordinate to ensure that any concerns are addressed by the appropriate party.

Hardware, samples, prototypes, or other physical items

Preferred Option: 

Departments providing hardware (e.g., computers) or other materials, including samples or prototypes, should have the items shipped directly to the overseas recipient from the vendor. This will dramatically reduce the burden on departmental staff, because the vendor will be required to provide the paperwork required for export. In some cases the vendor may provide different operating system or other software options (e.g., drive encryption software) based on the country of destination. 

Alternate Option: 

It is recognized that many departments may prefer to have items first sent to Princeton prior to shipment to the overseas recipient.  For example, this may apply to computers so that they can be appropriately imaged for the user.  If this is the case, the departments should plan well in advance to ensure the equipment reaches the recipient in time for the start of classes/work.  In order to expedite the review process it is requested that the department request the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) from the vendor at the time of purchase. 

Questions related to shipping of hazardous materials, whether shipped domestically or internationally, can be addressed to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (

Software programs

Software programs to be provided to remote users will also require review.  As with physical items, the preferred method is for the user to obtain the software directly from the vendor. 

If the software is to be provided directly by Princeton (e.g., by downloading from a Princeton server, or being shipped by Princeton) the export control review will need to be completed.  This process will require information about each software program to be provided to the Princeton person in order to determine the export control classification of the software.  The earlier this information is submitted to the export control office, the more likely that the classifications will be completed before the start of classes/work. 


  • Overseas persons may remotely operate software on Princeton servers, but may not download the software from Princeton servers without an export control review being conducted first. 
  • Software source code must not be provided to overseas users unless it is open source software.  
  • The software provided to overseas users must be for either academic coursework or fundamental research activities (or both.)  
  • Encryption software, other than open source encryption software, may not be provided to overseas users without an export control review. 
Technical data

Proprietary or confidential data, including information related to the repair or installation of equipment/materials, will also require an export control review.  Please list this information separately.

Export Controls has created a spreadsheet (see attached) that itemizes the information that is required for the export control review.  Generally the export control review is done after the item is purchased. However, to expedite the process, the export control office will conduct the review in advance based on the information provided in this spreadsheet.

Please send the completed list of equipment and software to Export Controls ( with the subject line, “ECCCN review for {Your Department Name}”, as soon as possible. Export Controls will conduct the export analysis on the front end to determine if it is necessary to apply for an export license in order for the shipment to take place.     

In the event an export license is required for items, software or technical data, the process of obtaining an export license can take six weeks or significantly more.  Departments are encouraged to make alternate arrangements if a license is required since it is anticipated that the licensing agencies will be fielding licenses from many universities across the US during this time period.

Once the review is complete, you should use the eShipGlobal tool for shipping. The routing will be expedited since the export control analysis will have been done in advance.

China, Russia, and Venezuela

Please note that new export documentation requirements recently went into effect for China, Russia and Venezuela. These new documents will, by necessity, have to be completed by the department staff prior to shipment.  This process may result in shipment delays.

Persons in Sanctioned Countries (i.e., Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Crimea region of the Ukraine)


Departments should follow the above procedure for shipments unless the individual is located in a sanctioned country.  If the individual is in one of the sanctioned countries, it may not be feasible to send items, data or software.  In such  situations, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) authorization in time for the start of classes.

Communications Software

Many of the software tools commonly used for remote education/work (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft 365, Canvas, etc.) are unavailable to users in sanctioned countries.  

Additional Information

Specific questions on export control related issues can be addressed to Export Control team at (

Environmental Health & Safety may be contacted about domestic and international shipping of hazardous materials at

The Office of Finance & Treasury has information related to hiring, paying persons who are overseas, taxes, etc.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has a website and position paper library devoted to secure computing:  Please contact David Sherry, the Chief Information Security Officer, if you have questions or concerns about cybersecurity issues.

The Graduate School has a website dedicated to the upcoming academic semester.

The Office of the Dean of the College