Export Controls and Traveling Abroad with Electronic Devices

When an Export License may be Required

Travelers are likely to require an export license to bring an electronic device outside the United States if:

  • the device holds encryption software, either commercially available or research-generated;
  • they are traveling to a country that is the subject of a U.S. embargo (descriptions of country embargoes are available on the U.S. Department of Treasury website);
  • the device contains unpublished, confidential, or classified data or other information relating to items or materials on one of the technology control lists [1] established by the U.S. government.  Note that the need for an export license would probably not apply to data and information which result from fundamental research: basic and applied research typically associated with academia;
  • the device is designed for use or application with technologies associated with satellites, spacecraft or technologies with a military use, or the device contains information or software designed for use or application with such technologies; or
  • the device could be used in the development of weapons of mass destruction.
When an Export License is Not Likely to be Required

Most international travel with electronic devices qualifies under a temporary export license exception if the device and associated software are:

  • routinely available from commercial vendors;
  • kept under the traveler’s immediate control or in a secure  location while outside the United States;
  • brought back to the United States within one year of the initial departure; and
  • the destination country is not subject to a U.S. embargo (descriptions of country embargoes are available on the U.S. Department of Treasury website).

Certain exclusions to the licensing requirements may be available to devices taken outside the country for professional or research uses.  The applicability of an exclusion requires a careful determination in advance of departure.  Contact the Director of Corporate Contracts  and Export Control Licensing for assistance.

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 [1]An example of such information would be blueprints of laboratory equipment that could be used to create toxic materials.