' International Travel | JHURA

Website Navigation for Screen Readers

Click to Return to Homepage

International Travel

Traveling Outside the U.S.? You Are about to Become an “Exporter”

Did You Know That…

  • Any tangible items that you are taking to a foreign country are considered “exports” by the United States Government, even if you are planning on bringing the items back upon your return.
  • Technical information located on your laptop’s hard drive or in a hard copy notebook is considered to be an export of “technology” or “technical data,” once the laptop or notebook leaves the U.S.
  • Even technical know-how that is in your head, if shared with a foreign person, is considered to be a type of export.

Three Noteworthy Federal Agencies that Have Jurisdiction Over You and Your Exports:

  • The Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) implements and enforces strict controls upon tangible items (and technical data associated with them) that are determined to have been “specifically designed, developed, configured, adapted or modified for a military application.” Such items and data can be found on the U.S. Munitions List in the DDTC’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
  • The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) implements and enforces regulations that prohibit the release of certain commodities and information to certain countries or to their citizens (regardless of their location), if it is believed that there is a potential for such items to be used to undermine U.S. security, policy, or other vital interests. Such items are often referred to as “dual-use” items and can be found on the Commerce Control List (CCL) in BIS’s Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Note that many items on the CCL are commercially available in the U.S.
  • The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) prohibits varying types of transactions (e.g., financial, commercial, and even academic) and activities with or in foreign countries (as well as with their citizens, regardless of location) through its sanction programs, which consist of economic pressure designed to encourage other countries, entities, or individuals to cooperation with U.S. policies and interests worldwide.

I’m Just a University Employee. Why Should I Worry About These Agencies’ Regulations?

  • Depending upon their areas of expertise, JHU employees may work with items and foreign countries covered by DDTC, BIS, and OFAC regulations.
  • US Customs officials are authorized to search for and retain electronic devices and other items leaving the U.S., even without probable cause, in the enforcement of export control and sanction program regulations.
  • Other universities and/or their employees have, by violating export control or sanction program regulations, exposed themselves to steep financial penalties and incarceration. See these examples provided by BIS.

Risk Factors Contributing to Violations

If any of these factors apply to your planned travel, please contact the JHU Export Controls Office before you travel by using the contact information provided below.

Sanctioned Countries

Will you be traveling to a country subject to OFAC sanctions?

Each sanctions program is different from the other. Some programs broadly prohibit imports and exports of goods, technology and services from/to certain countries. Other programs only prohibit transactions with certain listed entities and individuals. Sanctions programs change over time, sometimes rapidly, as world events affect the U.S. Government’s relationship with other countries and governments.

Before you travel, visit the OFAC website to determine whether you will be visiting a sanctioned country.

Restricted People and Entities

Do you expect to enter into transactions with persons or entities that the federal government has determined must be excluded from such transactions? We recommend that you use the Consolidated Screening List to screen the foreign parties with whom you expect to interact professionally during your international travel.

Defense Articles and Data

Will you be taking to any foreign country tangible items or information related to research or other activities that support defense-related projects or objectives? One should note that the DDTC presently considers not only things like missiles and fighter jets to be defense articles, but also spacecraft designed for scientific objectives. This includes scientific satellites and other space-related equipment, including support apparatus, such as launch platforms and telemetry stations.

Commerce Control List Commodities and Technical Information

Will you be taking with you commodities or technical information found on the CCL? The only way to know for certain is to perform a keyword search on Title 15, Part 774 (a/k/a the “Commerce Control List”), which can be found in a searchable format at the GPO Access website. If provided sufficient notice before your international trip, your Export Control Office can assist with such a search.

Risk of finding your items restricted for export by the Export Administration Regulations (which contain the CCL) increases when:

  • Your travel will take you to one or more of the “T5” Countries, which consist of Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria. Some or all of these countries are subject to not only heightened BIS export restrictions, but also to heightened ITAR and OFAC restrictions.
  • You will be taking items related to your work at JHU, including: a) tangible items, such as samples, prototypes, and equipment; and/or b) unpublished research technical data; AND you work in the following areas:
    • Chemical, Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering
    • Materials Technology
    • Remote Sensing, Imaging and Reconnaissance
    • Navigation, Avionics and Flight Control
    • Robotics
    • Propulsion Systems and Unmanned Air Vehicle Subsystems
    • Telecommunications/Networking
    • Nuclear Technology
    • Sensors and Sensor Technology
    • Advanced Computer/Microelectronic Technology
    • Information Security/Encryption
    • Laser and Directed Energy Systems
    • Rocket Systems
    • Marine Technology

Risk of finding your items restricted for export by the CCL decreases when:

  • You will be traveling to countries sharing a relatively friendly, cooperative relationship with the U.S., such as with the countries that belong to N.A.T.O. and other treaty-based groups.
  • Your work is in a field that is not fundamentally “technical”, such as a discipline traditionally included in the humanities. However, beware of electronic and medical equipment exported in support of your overseas work, and don’t forget that OFAC sanction regulations may still apply to your destination and your activities there, regardless of your area of expertise
  • The tangible items that you are taking are
    • personal effects that most people need and use when they travel outside the U.S., and/or
    • such items will be under your effective control throughout your travel and will return to the U.S. with you within one year or less.
  • The work-related information that you take with you (e.g., on your laptop or other media)
    • is already published and generally accessible to the interested public
    • is available to anyone wishing to take a university catalog course
    • was generated by basic or applied research and is the type of information that is ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community (often referred to as the results of “fundamental research”).

A Common Question: What about my laptop, smart phone, or data storage device?

  • Short answer: It depends upon a device’s features, the software or data that you have loaded on it, who owns it, the purposes for which you are taking it, and where you want to take it.
  • Fortunately, many of these items are listed on the CCL under Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) 5A992 and can be taken to most countries, except for those subject to embargoes and other heightened export controls. The software that operates or is used on these items, including mass-market and open-source products, can also be found on the CCL (ECCN 5D992) and are controlled separately from the hardware that they are used on. If possible, we recommend traveling internationally with personally owned laptops containing only software, technical data, and personal information considered essential for the trip.
  • Newer, more advanced computing and communication devices (as well as associated software), especially those that provide exceptionally strong levels of encryption, may be difficult to take to other countries, especially the T5 countries. If you know or suspect that your electronic devices are more advanced than the average, it would be a good idea to determine what the items’ ECCNs are by asking the manufacturer and working with your Export Control Office.
  • Even though the CCL may indicate that a license is required to export your laptop to a particular country, a license exception can often be found that will allow you to export it on a temporary basis. For example:
    • Depending upon the country, you may be allowed to travel with a JHU-owned laptop under a temporary export (TMP) license exception, if the laptop and your use of it qualify under BIS’s definition of a “tool of the trade.”
    • In other instances, you may only be able to take a laptop to another country if it qualifies for a baggage (BAG) license exception which, among other things, requires that the laptop be owned by the traveler.
    • When taking equipment and other export-controlled items to other countries under a license exception, you should understand the conditions under which the exception can be used. It is also a good idea to take with you a letter from your Export Control Office indicating that the license exception is being invoked for your temporary export.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Violations – Work with Your Export Control Office

Just because an item is listed on the CCL does not mean that you cannot take it with you to your destination country. Export restrictions on CCL items vary, depending upon your destination country, those to whom you expect to release such items, and how you expect they will use them. Even if a license is indicated for your export, it is usually possible to find a documented reason why technical information can be excluded from regulation or a license exception for exported tangible items. Similar forgiveness can often be found in regulations that other agencies apply to your travels, such as the sanction programs.

Working with your Export Control Office well ahead of your international journey is the best way to ensure that your exported goods and information can be taken/sent without a license or violation of the export control and sanction program regulations.

If any Risk Factor above is present in your planned travel, please contact:

Export Control Office
Johns Hopkins University


Johns Hopkins University
Research Administration

1101 E. 33rd Street, C310
Baltimore, MD 21218

(443) 927-3073
Email: jhura@jhu.eduSend an email to jhura@jhu.edu

  • Contact Us

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Website Footer Navigation