Export Controls and Traveling Abroad with Electronic Devices

Foreign Import Restrictions on Encrypted Devices

Other countries may restrict the import and use of encrypted devices (e.g., China, France, Russia).  It is possible that any encrypted devices brought without advance permission from the destination country will be confiscated upon arrival.  

Travelers to countries with encryption restrictions should consider one of the following alternatives: 

  • Leave the encrypted laptop or other encrypted portable device at home.  Ask if your school or department can loan you an unencrypted laptop for the trip.  Be sure the device’s hard drive does not contain sensitive information prior to departure and ensure that any data you save on its hard drive during your travels is removed immediately upon your return.
  • For longer-term trips, it may be possible to obtain permission from the foreign country to bring in an encrypted device.  In China, for example, visitors may apply in advance for licenses to bring in and use an encrypted laptop.  Licensing can take several weeks to complete, so it must be researched and initiated well ahead of departure.

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