Export Controls and Traveling Abroad with Electronic Devices


Yale faculty, students and staff commonly take their laptops, i-phones, GPS devices and other electronic devices (as well as software and data stored on the device) when traveling abroad, but this seemingly routine activity may in fact qualify as an “export” and be regulated by U.S. export control laws and regulations, and may require a license from the Federal Government. 

Additionally, bringing an electronic device into another country may be restricted under that country’s import regulations and require advance permission.

Travelers should also be concerned about the safety of the data on any electronic devices they bring overseas.  Personal, confidential, classified or research data contained on portable electronic devices, such as laptops, may be examined by both U.S. and foreign officials, and instances of laptop search and seizures have been widely reported in the press.  Make sure you always have a backup of any data you are taking overseas.

This summary is designed to provide only general guidance on a complex issue.  If you think you might need a license or need to rely on an exclusion, or if you have any questions or need more detailed information about this topic, please contact the Director of Corporate Contracts and Export Control Licensing.

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