While export control regulations might appear to encompass a large portion of University activities, certain exceptions or exclusions apply to both controlled items and technology, as outlined below.
Have questions? Reach out to the Assistant Director of Export Controls to discuss your research project or travel plans.
Information that is published and generally accessible to the public is not subject to export controls. This includes information available through the following channels:
- Sales at newsstands and bookstores
- Libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents
- Patents available at any patent office
- Unlimited distribution at a conference, meeting, seminar, tradeshow, or exhibition
- Public release in any form, after approval by a U.S. government department or agency
A license is not needed for information shared with non-U.S. persons during the conduct of academic catalog courses in United States universities. However, sharing technical data on a controlled piece of equipment may still require an export license.
While export control laws and regulations may seem onerous, there is an exception that benefits you when conducting research with the intent of publishing the results: the Fundamental Research Exclusion. This excludes from export control regulations research results that are:
- Generated during the course of research projects, provided the results are published and shared broadly in the academic community
- Not subject to a publication approval process by a sponsor
- Not subject to national security controls on the dissemination of the research results
Note: The Fundamental Research Exclusion applies to research results only, not shipments of items or commodities, even if they are developed during a fundamental research project.
What is Fundamental Research?
Fundamental Research is defined as: "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 vs. Proprietary
Regulations make a distinction between fundamental research and proprietary research. The latter may include industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which are ordinarily restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.
How does this apply to my project?
Princeton policy ensures that research performed at the University will normally qualify for the Fundamental Research Exclusion. Any issues that arise will be addressed as part of the award review and acceptance process.
Working with Non-U.S. Persons
This exclusion ensures that non-U.S. persons on campus (students, faculty, and visitors) are permitted to participate in research projects without the need for a license. As a researcher, you may share research results with non-U.S. persons. However, the inputs to the project may remain export controlled.
For example, confidential or proprietary information shared by a project sponsor may be export controlled and should not be shared with non-U.S. persons without first conducting an export control review. Similarly, providing export controlled technical data on a piece of laboratory equipment used by non-U.S. persons during the research may require an export license.
Sharing Research Results
Research results generated during the course of fundamental research are excluded from export control laws and regulations. No license is needed to share these results, even if they relate to items or technology that is otherwise controlled.
United States universities may release technology related to the installation, operation, maintenance, or repair of software to non-U.S. persons who are their bona-fide and full-time regular employees. However, this exception is subject to restrictions and provisions.
- Included: Software updates (bug fixes), mass-market software
- Not included: Detailed design, production, or manufacture technology; or, the means to reconstruct the software
- The employee is not a debarred (excluded) party
- The employee’s permanent residence throughout the period of employment is within the United States
- The University informs the individual in writing that the technology or source code may not be transferred to other non-U.S. persons without prior United States government authorization (i.e., an export license)
- No technology or source code controlled for encryption reasons or missile technology reasons may be released
In addition to the above, the employee is not a national of the following countries:
- Myanmar (Burma)
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- North Korea
License exceptions may be available when Princeton-affiliated individuals plan to take University-owned or personal items out of the country. In either situation, the items must be returned to the United States, unless they are consumed or you are otherwise authorized to dispose of them under the regulations.
Please contact the Assistant Director of Export Controls to confirm eligibility and to discuss applicable record-keeping requirements.
License Exception for Temporary Exports / Reexports (TMP)
As a member of the Princeton community, you may be able to take University-owned equipment out of the country for use in a qualifying Fundamental Research project. A license exception for Temporary Export (TMP) applies if the equipment meets the requirement for "tools of trade" and is under your control throughout the trip. This includes laptops, cell phones, PDAs, and other digital storage devices, as controlled under the EAR.
The TMP License Exception requires that items and related technology or software are:
- Being used for PROFESSIONAL purposes
- Returned within 12 months
- Kept under effective control while abroad (i.e., kept in a hotel safe or other secured space or facility)
- Protected to prevent unauthorized release of technology (i.e., use of secure connections, password systems, and firewalls)
Note: The TMP License Exception does not apply to items shipped or carried to certain OFAC-sanctioned countries including Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, or Sudan. It also does not apply to items, technology, data, or software regulated under the ITAR, such as military or space items or technologies.
License Exception for Baggage and Personal Items and Technology (BAG)
The Baggage License Exception (BAG) covers personal items that you own and that are intended only for your personal use. This exception can be used for travel outside the United States when you are taking PERSONAL items or technology that would normally require a license from the Department of Commerce.
Note: Does not apply to ITAR items.
The Baggage License Exception (BAG) requires that the items are:
- Owned by the individual carrying them
- Used by the individual
- Not intended for sale or disposal
For example, if you plan to bring a personal rather than a University laptop when attending a conference or conducting research abroad, the BAG license exception is available. Note that the device must be password-protected and in your control the entire time that it is outside of the United States.