Summary of Export Control Laws

Rice University faculty, staff, and students engage in activities that may involve the export of certain items, products or goods, technology, and software to foreign countries and, consequently, may be subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations. Since the events of September 11, 2001, the federal government has increasingly focused on the compliance of universities with these laws and regulations in the interest of national security. The regulations generally govern the export of items from the United States to foreign countries. However, the regulations also restrict the “deemed export” of certain information to foreign nationals within the United States, and may require a special license. Noncompliance with export control laws and regulations can result in severe civil and criminal penalties, including imprisonment, loss of research contracts, seizure and forfeiture of goods, and loss of export privileges.

Export Control Laws and Regulations

The three major regulatory schemes in place governing export controls include the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the U.S. Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) “Dual use” items: those items (and associated information regarding the development, production ,or “use” of such items) that have the potential for BOTH military and civilian applications
The U.S. Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) Information and technology that is “inherently military” in nature but may also include many items designed for space-related purposes
The U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Direct or indirect transactions (such as investment and the import and export of goods and services) with:
  • certain foreign countries including, but not limited to, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria; or
  • individuals/entities the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), such as investment and the import and export of goods and services.

Export restrictions (i.e., license requirements) depend on (1) the agency, (2) the particular item/item, (3) the country to where the item is being shipped (or, for deemed exports, the foreign national’s country of citizenship). However, with regard to activities subject to EAR and DDTC, the Fundamental Research Exemption may apply.

Examples of Controlled Items

The following CCL and USML categories provide very general examples of the type of items subject to export restrictions. The individual entries are very complex and detailed, so please contact us for help in determining whether the item or technology is export controlled.

Please note that aside from the tangible items provided on these lists, in many cases software and information regarding the development, production, and “use” of these items may also be subject to export controls.

The BIS’ Commerce Control List (CCL)

  • Nuclear related items & miscellaneous items
  • Special materials and related equipment, chemicals, “microoganisms,” and “toxins”
  • Materials processing
  • Electronics
  • Computers
  • Telecommunications
  • Information security (encryption)
  • Marine (vessels, propulsion, and equipment)
  • Propulsion systems, space vehicles (includes aircraft & aircraft engines)
  • Sensors & lasers
  • Navigation and avionics
  • Aerospace and Propulsion

The Department of State’s United States Munitions List (USML)

  • Firearms, Close Assault Weapons and Combat Shotguns
  • Guns and Armament
  • Ammunition / Ordnance
  • Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs and Mines
  • Explosives, Propellants, Incendiary Agents, and their Constituents
  • Vessels of War and Special Naval Equipment
  • Tanks and Military Vehicles
  • Aircraft and Associated Equipment
  • Military Training Equipment
  • Protective Personnel Equipment
  • Military Electronics
  • Fire Control, Range Finder, Optical and Guidance and Control Equipment
  • Auxiliary Military Equipment
  • Toxicological Agents and Equipment and Radiological Equipment
  • Spacecraft Systems and Associated Equipment
  • Nuclear Weapons, Design and Testing Related Items
  • Classified Articles, Technical Data and Defense Services Not Otherwise Enumerated
  • Directed Energy Weapons
  • Submersible Vessels, Oceanographic and Associated Equipment