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Export Control Policies & Procedures

Policy Contacts

Melissa J. Lopes, J.D.
Senior Research Compliance Officer within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research

What is Essential: 

Research collaboration often involves the sharing of research materials, including biological samples, chemicals, reagents, research prototypes, and research equipment, including laptops to lasers.  The transport and exchange of research materials may be subject to strict regulatory requirements related to the health and safety of shipping carriers and the public, international sanctions, protection of intellectual property, and export controls.  

Items, information, and technologies used for University research, including some readily available in the U.S., may be subject to U.S. export control regulations intended to prevent the proliferation of chemical or biological weapons, support national security policies, or protect U.S.- developed intellectual property.  The entire research team will need to consider these regulations when transferring certain items, technology, or information to foreign nationals within the U.S. as well as outside the U.S.  

Additionally, U.S. government sanctions restrict travel to, and financial transactions with, certain countries, individuals, and organizations, including certain foreign universities and research institutes.  It is important to understand and comply with country-specific sanctions when travelling abroad and to comply with financial sanctions on individuals and organizations when entering into research collaborations with foreign individuals and entities. 

Harvard is committed to complying with applicable U.S. laws and regulations pertaining to exports of items, services and technology by or on behalf of the University. The University’s Chief Compliance Officer oversees Harvard’s compliance with U.S. export-control laws and regulations and chairs the Harvard University Export Control Council that reviews and advises the OVPR on export control issues.  

Below are some common areas where export control issues may arise: 

Shipping/Carrying Materials Overseas: 

  • Any item that is sent from the United States to a foreign destination is an export.  “Items” include biological materials, chemicals, research materials, software, technology, and information.  
  • The export of controlled items, information or software may require approval from the U.S. government in the form of an export license.  An export license permits controlled tangible items or software to be sent outside the U.S. or controlled information or software to be shared with foreign persons in the U.S. or abroad. 

Deemed Exports: 

  • Technology, know how, and non-encryption source code that is released to foreign national within the U.S. is “deemed” to be an export to the country where the person is a resident or citizen and could be subject to export licensing requirements. This is what is commonly known as the “deemed export” rule.  More information about Deemed Exports can be found in the FAQ at the Bureau of Industry and Security. 
  • Visa Deemed Export Certification:  The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires the University to certify whether visa petitions for certain classes of foreign person work visas will require a license or other government authorization for the release of export-controlled technology or technical data during their employment. Under the export control laws, the transfer of such information is “deemed” an export to the country of origin of the individual with whom you are communicating. 
  • Harvard International Office Visa Intake FormTo meet the USCIS requirement, the University’s visa application includes a “Deemed Export Questionnaire and Certification.” This certification must be signed by the Principal Investigator or Department Chair and the School’s Compliance Officer, attesting to whether a deemed export license is required prior to the release of technology or technical data to the foreign person. 

Foreign Travel Issues: 

  • Foreign travel raises a number of issues for researchers, as any trip outside the United States has the potential for the researcher to export both items and technical information that may be controlled.  For these reasons, it is recommended that you review Harvard’s Global Support Services travel tools page, and keep in mind a few simple points while traveling abroad:  
  • Shipped v. Carried Items:  Export-control laws do not distinguish between an item that is shipped and an item that is carried. Thus, if it is unlawful to ship an item to a certain country without a license, it is also unlawful to hand-carry with you, in your luggage. Although laptops are ordinarily licensed by the manufacturers for export to most countries, you may not be permitted to bring the same equipment to an embargoed country without first securing a license. 
  • Destination:  Second, the destination determines what export controls or regulations apply. Check with your School or Institute’s Export Control Administrator before travelling to: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, the Crimea Region of the Ukraine, Syria, or China. 
  • Money:  If you are traveling to a comprehensively sanctioned country, you may need a license to expend funds in that country. For example, under the Iranian embargo, you are permitted to spend money on hotels, food, or transportation without a license, but you may need a license from the Treasury Department in order to contract with local individuals and purchase certain research supplies. 
  • Sharing Data:  Travel abroad always involves meeting new people; researchers are no exception. Export control issues can arise when a researcher interacts with people during scientific discussions or conferences in which controlled technical information may be exchanged. There is no export control issue if the researcher is presenting research results that have already been published. However, if the data have not been published, the researcher must ensure that there is no technical information included that may be controlled.  
  • Restricted Individuals/Business Entities:  Travel abroad may also involve engaging in transactions with individuals or business entities which may be restricted by U.S. sanctions. 
  • Electronic Devices and Encryption Software:  If you are traveling with your laptop or any other electronic devices these items along with the underlying technology, any data on your device, proprietary information, confidential records, and encryption software are all subject to export control regulations. Some foreign governments have regulations that permit the seizure of travelers’ computers and the review of their contents. U.S. Customs officials are also authorized to review the contents of travelers’ laptops without probable cause and can be held until your return. 


International Collaborations/On-Line Education and SDNs 

  • In addition to countries, foreign individuals and entities may also be the subject of U.S. sanctions.  These individuals/entities are considered Specially Designated Nationals (“SDNs”).  
  • Before traveling to countries that may be the subject of sanctions, collaborating with a foreign national outside of Harvard University or any person or entity outside of the United States, or presenting your research at an international conference, conduct an SDN screen. 
  • SDN screens may also need to be conducted when enrolling foreign nationals in: 
  • Professional or continuing education courses, 
  • On-line courses or executive education programs, or 
  • Otherwise providing services or receiving funds from foreign nationals 
  • The Export Control Guidance on SDN provides further information on how to conduct SDN screens, and how to proceed if a screen results in a positive match. 
  • You should also reference the points to consider when travelling abroad in the Foreign Travel Issues section of this site.


On-Line Education Reminder Regarding Sanctioned Countries 

Cloud Computing

Military Critical Technical Data 

  • Process for Accessing Military Critical Technical Data: Harvard University’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research maintains an approved Military Critical Technical Agreement (Form DD2345) with the Joint Certification Program (“JCP”).  The University Chief Research Compliance Officer serves as the University’s Data Custodian for the purposes of this approval. All DD2345 related questions and requests must be directed to OVPR.  Always work with the OVPR to: 
    • Confirm your need for JCP certification 
    • Obtain Harvard’s JCP certification number for use on meeting/conference registration forms, etc. 
    • Establish a Technology Control Plan (TCP) for the receipt and management of any export controlled data or materials.  An approved Technology Control Plan (TCP) is required for all JCP data, regardless of format, that will be accessed, developed, provided, used, or stored by or on behalf of the University or University personnel. A TCP is not required for meeting participation unless the participant will be retaining notes, conference proceedings, presentations, etc. from the meeting that require safeguarding. 

Note: University faculty, staff, trainees, and students engaging in University supported activities are required to use our institutional certification rather than register as an individual. 


  • About the Joint Certification Program for Access to Military Critical Technical DataAccess to unclassified technical data that discloses specifications for technology considered critical by the U.S. Department of Defense and/or Canadian Department of National Defense requires authorization.  To facilitate authorization requests, the U.S. and Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 1985 that established the U.S. – Canada Joint Certification Program (JCP). For Harvard researchers, a JCP authorization is required when you plan to attend a meeting or a conference where unclassified technical data will be shared, used, or disclosed.  Harvard has secured an institutional JCP authorization to facilitate the exchange of export controlled technical data in DoD funded research or the participation of University researchers in DoD sponsored events (e.g., to discuss program requirements or present research findings). Under the JCP, data is sent to the recipient’s Data Custodian named on the DD2345 who is then responsible for ensuring that appropriate safeguards (controls) are put in place to prevent unauthorized disclosures and exports before releasing it to the end user (i.e., researcher). 
  • Regulations & Definitions: Access to unclassified technical data may not be exported outside of the U.S. without an approval authorization or license under U.S. or Canadian export control laws. This also means that you cannot share any unclassified technical data to which you have access with any foreign nationals in the U.S. 

  • U.S. Defense Directive 5230.25 defines unclassified technical data as any of the following: 
    • Technical data with military or space application 
    • Blueprints, drawings, plans, instructions, computer software or documentation 
    • Other technical information that can be used (or be adapted for use) to design, engineer, produce, manufacture, operate, repair, overhaul, or reproduce any military or space equipment or technology concerning such equipment 
How to Comply
  1. Confirm whether your research qualifies as fundamental research: Be alert to restrictions on the publication of your research results and on who can participate in your research.  Provide your sponsored office with a complete description of the research you propose, including any non-disclosure agreements or other agreements that may restrict publication or access or that contemplate the possible acceptance or use of items or technology subject to U.S. export controls.
  2. Consult your school Export Control Administrator or Office of the Vice Provost before shipping or sharing technology, information or tangible research materials internationally.  Research equipment, as well as the tangible results of research, such as prototypes, materials, and biological samples may require a license to ship or hand-carry outside the U.S.  Consult your School’s Export Control Administrator prior to shipping or travelling with research items, samples or technology (including research equipment) internationally.
  3. When collaborating with foreign individuals and organizations, confirm that they are not individually subject to U.S. embargoes or sanctions.  Contact your School’s Export Control Administrator to screen foreign nationals and organizations.  Additionally, contact your School’s Export Control Administrator before travelling to, or conducting research in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or the Crimea Region of the Ukraine.
Why it's Important

Why It’s Important:

University researchers may be individually subject to U.S. export control regulations and trade sanctions.  The consequences for violating these regulations and sanctions are substantial, including civil fines and criminal penalties.

Export Controls and Trade Sanctions are regulated by three federal agencies:  the U.S. Commerce Department, The U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The University is committed to complying with export control laws and regulations while also preserving and protecting an open research environment where foreign faculty, students, and scholars will not be singled out for restriction in accessing the University’s educational and research facilities.  To determine whether export controls and trade sanctions impact your international collaboration, travel or shipment plans, consult with your School or Institute’s Export Control Administrator.

Committee & School-specific Export Control Administrators

Because awareness and oversight of Export Control are best accomplished at the local level, each School or Institute has an Export Control Administrator, designated to answer questions and oversee the implementation of compliance procedures within their respective schools, centers, laboratories and departments.  Export Control Administrators:

Melissa Lopes, Senior Research Compliance Officer, OVPR
Melissa KorfAssociate Director, Grants and Contracts, HMS

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Harvard Business School
Sandy Nolden, Managing Director for Research Development Services

Harvard Global Support Services
Krister Anderson, Senior International Program Assistant

Harvard International Office
Anne GardsbaneAssistant Director

Harvard Kennedy School
Liz Brady, Senior Sponsored Programs Administrator

Harvard Law School
Leah Keating, Director of Research Administration

Harvard Medical School
Melissa Korf, Grants and Contracts Officer, Research Administration
Lindsay Monahan, Compliance Officer

Harvard School of Public Health
Jennifer Neira, Associate Director Research Administration

Harvard Graduate School of Education
Tiffany Blackman, Senior Director of Research Administration

Office of the General Counsel
Ellen Berkman, University Attorney

Office of Sponsored Programs
Rob Kirsh, Director, Pre-Award Services

Office of Technology Development
Maryanne Fenerjian, Director of Technology Transfer Policy

Wyss Institute
Katrin Duevel, Compliance Officer

Ex Oficio
Ara TahmassianUniversity Chief Research Compliance Office



On-Line Training:

Harvard University provides on-line Introduction to Export Controls Training through the Harvard Training Portal, as well as guidance pamphlets in areas such as international travel and international shipping (see sidebar).

In-Person Training:

Representatives from OVPR are also happy to partner with School EC Administrators to provide tailored training to departments and institutes.  To schedule a targeted training, contact Melissa Lopes in OVPR at:


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