Potential U.S. Federal Government Shutdown: Research Continuity Guidance

Export Controls: Regulations and Overview

Export Control Laws are a set of federal regulations that restrict the release of certain items, information and software to foreign nationals in the United States and abroad.

Cornell University is fully committed to compliance with all U.S. Government export control laws and regulations.

Export Compliance is the responsibility of all Cornell University faculty and staff.  All personnel retained by or working at, consulting to, or volunteering for the University must comply with all export control laws and regulations while teaching, conducting research or providing service activities at or on behalf of the University.

Penalties for non-compliance with export control laws are severe and impact both the institution and the researcher. If an export control violation is determined by an investigating agency, an individual may be subject to civil and criminal penalties, and Cornell may be subject to, among other penalties, debarment from government contracts.

Current Regulations

Export Control Laws and Regulations

"Export Controls" are federal laws and regulations that govern the transfer or disclosure of goods, technology, software, services, and funds originating in the United States to persons or entities in foreign countries OR to non-U.S. persons, even if located in the U.S. The Export Controls Office, along with General Counsel's Office, provide support for University activities subject to the three primary export control regulations listed below.

  • International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
    • Citation: 22 CFR 120-130
    • Agency: Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), US Department of State
    • Statutory Authority: Arms Export Control Act (AECA)
    • Scope: Primarily military technology, technical data and services.
    • Examples of Items Controlled: satellite technology, some unmanned aerial vehicles, global positioning systems, chemicals, night vision technology, navigation systems, sonar and radar systems, military electronics and software.
  • Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
    • Citation: 15 CFR chapter VII, subchapter C
    • Agency: Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS), US Department of Commerce
    • Statutory Authority: Export Administration Act (EAA) and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)
    • Regulations: Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
    • Scope: Items in US commerce that are not controlled by another agency. Controls are predominantly related to dual-use (those with military and commercial utility) technology listed on the Commerce Control List.
    • Examples of Items Controlled: lasers, infectious agents, computers, encryption technology, sensors, navigation and avionics, propulsion systems, toxins, chemicals, certain materials for the manufacture of controlled goods, and telecommunications equipment.
  • Embargoes and Trade Sanctions or Foreign Assets Control Regulations (FACR)
    • Citation: 31 CFR 500-598
    • Agency: Office of Foreign Assets Control, US Department of the Treasury
    • Statutory Authority: Presidential National Emergency Powers and various legislation impacting international trade
    • Regulations: International Trade Regulations
    • Scope: Varies among the different sanction programs. Sanctions may be comprehensive or limited.
    • Examples of Controls
      • Country-Based: Iran, Cuba, certain Ukraine regions, Syria, and North Korea.
      • List-Based: Counter Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Counter Narcotics Trafficking.
    • The Iran Sanctions Guidance Document spells out specifics for Cornell faculty, staff, and students wishing to travel to Iran or engage with and Iranian entity.

Other Federal Agencies with Export Control Authority

Although the Departments of State, Commerce & Treasury are the primary agencies with export control authority for items, technology, associated non-public information, and services, there are other agencies that have authority over other types of goods and materials. The agencies listed below are examples, not a comprehensive list:

  • Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Justice
    Import/Export Quick Reference Guide and website
  • Food and Drug Administration 
    Export Guidance website
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior
    USFWS Import/Export Permit website
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
    NRC Export-Import website
  • Department of Energy 
    National Nuclear Security Administration website; Office of Nuclear Energy website
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Department of Agriculture 
    APHIS Import/Export website

This is not a comprehensive list of all US export control regulations; additional laws and regulations exist, but typically university activities will not involve data, goods or services under their jurisdiction. The Export Controls Office provides consultative expertise with EAR, ITAR and trade sanction regulations, and will assist researchers in contacting the appropriate cognizant agency for other regulations.

License Requirements

  • EAR: If an item is EAR-controlled, it may need an export license based on its Export Control Classification Number, destination country, the end user and the end use, if no exceptions apply.
    • The application for an EAR license is a detailed summary of what the item is, who will be using it and for what, the identities of individuals and entities who will have custody on its way to the end user, its value, and other necessary information.
    • Once submitted, it may take up to 90 days to receive the license.
  • ITAR: All ITAR controlled items require an ITAR license for export. 
    • The application for an ITAR license is a detailed summary of what the item is, who will be using it and for what, the identities of individuals and entities who will have custody on its way to the end user, its value, and other information. 
    • Once submitted, it may take more than 90 days to receive the license. 
  • A license may also be required to disclose EAR controlled technology, information, source code or object code to foreign nationals located in the U.S. In addition, anything ITAR controlled (i.e. technology, information, source code, object code, material, items, equipment) may not be accessed by foreign nationals in the U.S. OR by anyone (i.e. foreign nationals, U.S. citizens) located outside of the U.S.
  • License requirements also apply for individuals and entities sanctioned under OFAC regulations. 

The Export Controls Office can assist in determining the ECCN or United States Munitions List ID of the item(s) you wish to export, or any exceptions which apply. The Export Controls Office will also apply for required licenses.


Cornell's Export Control Compliance manual is available in PDF format.