When traveling abroad, there are four basic questions that University personnel need to consider when determining what export and import controls apply to their travel:

  • Which U.S. export control regulations might apply?
  • Where are you going?
  • What are you taking with you?
  • What will you be doing and with whom will you be interacting?

Which U.S. export control regulations might apply?

  • Export Administration Regulations ("EAR") overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce – if traveling with EAR-controlled items, technology, materials, software, or information. The EAR govern “dual use” items (those with both military and commercial applications or with strictly commercial applications). See the Commerce Control List ("CCL") for items controlled by the EAR.
  • Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") sanctions overseen by the U.S. Department of the Treasury – if travel involves sanctioned destinations or Specially Designated Nationals ("SDNs"). OFAC governs transactions with countries and territories subject to embargo, boycott, or trade sanctions.

Where are you going?

In general, travel to most destinations does not present a concern from the export compliance standpoint. Per the U.S. Government regulations referenced above, (i) tighter export controls are in effect for countries and territories that are comprehensively sanctioned or have restrictions on trade; (ii) taking certain physical goods, technology, software, or information out of the U.S. may require an appropriate export license.

Additionally, every destination country has its own requirements related to imports and exports; even if an item does not require a U.S. export license, it may still need an import permit for entry into the destination country.

The following destinations are the most comprehensively sanctioned by the U.S. and will require advance planning and coordination with the NYU Office of Ethics and Compliance ("OEC") and/or the NYU Office of General Counsel ("OGC"): Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, China, Russia, Belarus, and Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk Regions of Ukraine. Contact OEC as soon as you anticipate travel to any of these destinations.

Additional resources:

When traveling abroad, it is always a good idea to contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you depart. To register your travel plans with an embassy and receive helpful safety and emergency information related to your destination, visit the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. For more information about U.S. Embassies and Consular Offices visit USEmbassy.gov.


What are you taking with you?

If you don't need it, don't travel with it.


Items, Equipment, and Software

  • Items that are generally OK to be taken to most countries without an export license (except to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, China, Russia, Belarus, and Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk Regions of Ukraine):
    • Most laptops, iPads & tablets, iPhones & Android cell phones, most jump and flash drives.
    • Any item that is classified as EAR99 (a “catch-all” classification for basic items under the EAR).
  • Items that may require an export license to some countries: Research equipment, including drones, microscopes, thermal or infrared cameras, or special software, with a classification other than EAR99, e.g. ECCN 5A001. "ECCN" stands for “Export Control Classification Number”; ECCNs are five-character alpha-numeric designations used on the EAR’s CCL to categorize items based on the nature of the product, i.e. type of commodity, software, or technology and its respective technical parameters; an ECCN is key in determining export license requirements for the item.
  • Items that that cannot be taken abroad without an applicable export license: ITAR-controlled equipment and software.
Contact OEC for your export license requirements determination and, if needed, a license application processing. Please note that acquiring appropriate licenses can take several months. Plan accordingly!

It is highly recommended that you register any items/equipment that you will be taking with you with U.S. Customs and Protection (CBP). Registration allows you to prove that you had the items before you left the U.S. and all CBP registered items will be allowed to return to the U.S. duty-free. For additional information see Department of Homeland Security Certificate of Registration – Form 4455 (PDF: 599KB) or Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad – Form 4457 (PDF: 860KB).

For some international destinations you may be able to obtain an ATA Carnet (an international customs document that permits the tax-free and duty-free temporary export and import of goods for up to one year) to facilitate the temporary import of items. Currently there are 70 countries participating in the ATA Carnet program. Using an ATA Carnet eliminates having to pay value-added taxes (VAT), duties, and/or the need to post import security bonds. For additional information see Obtain a Carnet.

Some items may endanger the safety of an aircraft or persons on board, and the air transportation of these dangerous materials can either be forbidden or restricted. The International Air Transport Association ("IATA") provides guidance on air shipment of such materials via its Dangerous Goods Regulations ("DRG"). Contact OEC if you have questions on travelling with dangerous goods (examples include lithium batteries, biological samples, toxins, flammables etc.) by air.

Research Data & Information

You are free to take and openly discuss any data or information that is published, is in the public domain, is normally taught as part of a catalog course at NYU, or that resulted from Fundamental Research. Fundamental Research means 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.

However, you cannot take or share information that is in any way export-restricted, such as third party proprietary information or the results of a project not protected under the Fundamental Research Exclusion ("FRE"). Sharing these types of information may constitute an unauthorized export. 

It is important to remember that: (i) while technical data and software resulting from Fundamental Research are not subject to the EAR and ITAR, any tangible items, e.g. prototypes or samples, generated under that Fundamental Research would be subject to export controls and may require an export license; (ii) the Fundamental Research concept does not apply to the OFAC regulations, so relevant sanctions may apply

All controlled or restricted information must be completely removed from laptops, phones, PDAs, or other portable storage devices (e.g. flash drives) before you leave the U.S. Be especially careful not to travel with ITAR-controlled technical data.

It’s important to take the minimum you need in order to get your work done. Contact OEC if you have questions regarding taking research data or information to a particular destination.

Visit NYU's Safe Travels: Mobile Device and Data Security on the Road website for more guidelines.

Encryption Technology

Taking electronic devices with encryption software to certain countries without proper authorization could violate not just the U.S. export control laws, but also the import regulations of the destination country and could result in confiscation of your device, fines, or other penalties. The multilateral Wassenaar Arrangement allows a traveler to freely enter a participating country with an encrypted device under a "personal use exemption" as long as the traveler does not create, enhance, share, sell or otherwise distribute the encryption technology while visiting. However, many nations do not recognize the personal use exemption and an import license from their specified governmental agency will be required for encryption software. Contact OEC with questions prior to traveling internationally with encryption software and encrypted data.

While VPN uses encryption technology, NYU Shanghai and NYU Abu Dhabi have official government permissions for NYU faculty, employees and students to use VPN. Always use the NYU VPN whenever connected to the internet. Obtain a secure NYU Box account or a secure NYU data server and regularly transfer research data, using the NYU VPN, to the secure NYU Box account or NYU server. Visit NYU's Safe Travels: Mobile Device and Data Security on the Road website for more information.


What will you be doing and with whom will you be interacting?

It is important to ensure that you do not accidentally export restricted information or provide any type of assistance or benefit to a sanctioned, blocked, or specially designated entity (organization or individual person) that appears on any of the restricted party lists maintained by various U.S. Government agencies. Contact OEC if you have reasons to believe that any potential recipients of export-controlled information may be restricted. The following are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your travel activities:


When presenting data/information in an international setting (including in the U.S. where the audience may include foreign nationals), you need to ensure that you limit your presentation to only information or data that is published, or is publicly available, or that qualifies as Fundamental Research. Be careful not to include or discuss any proprietary, unpublished, or otherwise export-restricted data or information as that may constitute an unauthorized export. Do not give access to your computer to third parties, e.g. to download their presentation materials onto your computer via a thumb drive etc.

Interactions with Foreign Colleagues

As noted above, you are free to openly discuss any published or publicly available information or information generated as the result of Fundamental Research as long as the recipient is not a sanctioned, blocked, or specially designated party.

Field Work

Any University research activity done outside the U.S. may not qualify for the Fundamental Research Exclusion. Before disclosing or sharing information or data resulting from international field work it is important to ensure that the information is not export restricted.

Purchasing Electronic Devices and Software Overseas

Some countries ban sale of certain electronic devices without pre-installed local software. Do not access NYU data via a locally purchased device or a device with installed local software to avoid placing the data at risk.


Failure to comply with the U.S. Government export control regulations can result in violations for which civil and criminal penalties can be assessed against any individual found to have caused or facilitated a violation and/or the University. Violations of import regulations of the destination country may result in seizure of the imported items and/or the individual’s detention. To help ensure smooth international travel and compliance, please contact OEC as soon as possible if you have questions or concerns about export and import controls as they may apply to your travel plans. For more information, visit NYU's Export Compliance website.