Carnegie Mellon University
Is My Work at CMU Subject to Export Controls?

Is My Work at CMU Subject to Export Controls?

That depends on many factors like the type of research, activity or technology being conducted, foreign national participation, acceptance of export controlled information, foreign travel and collaborations, etc. Export control laws apply to all research activities whether or not there is a specific citation to the regulations in the grant or contract governing the project. However, the National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 189, states that fundamental research is not subject to the license requirements of export control regulations.

To help you get an idea, below are a few basic questions that can help identify whether export controls may be triggered.  This is not an all inclusive list but does cover some primary areas of risk.

Does your research or activity involve:

  • Sponsor pre-approval prior to publication of research?
  • Sponsor placing any restrictions on foreign national participation?
  • Foreign sponsors?
  • Foreign travel, international research, or collaborating with colleagues in foreign countries?
  • Hand carrying export controlled items to foreign countries (e.g. laptops, GPS, unpublished research technical data)?
  • Receipt of any sponsor provided information or software marked "Export Controlled"?
  • Shipping any physical item(s) including software and/or transmission of technical data to a foreign country?
  • Any agreements (NDA, RFP, award, contract, etc.) with export control language?
  • Participation of a foreign person from Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Sudan or Iran?
  • Travel to or through Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria or Sudan?
  • Military related research or research with the potential for military applications?
  • Encryption source code or object code?

If you answer yes to one or more of the questions above, or you have any questions about these or other types of situations that may involve export controls, please contact the Export Compliance Group at for assistance and guidance.

Do export controls only apply to sponsored research?

No.  Export controls are U.S. laws that apply to all research and activities conducted at CMU whether funded or not.  Export controls may cross all academic fields including but not limited to engineering, psychology, biology, chemistry, decision sciences and education to name a few.

Can all research at CMU claim the Fundamental Research Exemption?

University research will not be deemed to qualify as Fundamental Research if:

1) The University or researchers accept any restrictions on the publication of the scientific and technical information resulting from the research, other than limited pre-publication reviews by research sponsors to prevent disclosure of proprietary information provided to the researcher by the sponsor or to ensure that publication will not compromise patent rights of the sponsor; or

2) The research is funded by the U.S. Government and specific access and dissemination controls regarding the resulting information have been accepted by the University or the researcher.