What are export controls?

United States export controls are federal regulations that govern what U.S. Persons – generally U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent resident aliens – can export from the U.S. or what we can disclose in written or oral format, regardless of the medium, to people who are not U.S. Persons.  These regulations exist to promote U.S. foreign policy, national security and economic goals.

What university activities are subject to export controls?

While there are carve outs that exempt many activities at U.S. universities, ECU is still subject to the various U.S. export regulations. In our ECU roles, we may commonly engage in activities where export controls apply.  These activities include:

  • International travel to attend conferences; to meet with research sponsors; to meet with foreign-university collaborators; or to conduct research
  • Employment of foreign persons, including students, as researchers or as faculty
  • Research agreements or collaborations with foreign companies
  • Working or conducting research in ECU offices or laboratories containing export-controlled information, materials or equipment
  • Shipping items to foreign project sponsors, collaborators or repair centers

The concept of academic freedom and export controls are not mutually exclusive. However, the two do intersect from time-to-time.

Passport on a bus

What are customs?

The term customs primarily refers to U.S. federal requirements related to the import of goods into the country.

What university activities are subject to customs-related regulations?

All physical imports are subject to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s processes. Typical examples where import compliance requirements apply include the following:

  • Returning from international travel with items or research specimens
  • Procuring equipment or supplies from international vendors
  • Equipment repairs returning to the U.S. from foreign repair centers
  • Receiving research specimens from international project sponsors

Can I violate the law as a university community member?

Yes. Keep in mind that violating U.S. export control regulations can result in significant fines for not only ECU, but for you as well. Both civil and criminal penalties up to $1 million per violation can apply, plus imprisonment up to 20 years. Universities in various U.S. states, their faculty members and students have been convicted for various violations.

Have questions?

If you have questions about any of these areas, please reach out to us. Assistance and guidance are available from ECU’s Office of Export Controls and Customs by phone at 252-744-2395 or by email at ecuexportcontrols@ecu.edu.

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