Common Misconceptions, Mistakes, and Myths about Export Controls

Common Misconceptions, Mistakes, and Myths about Export Controls (PDF)

“It’s commercial off-the-shelf, so it’s not controlled”

Wrong!  The following are just a few examples of commercial off-the-shelf  items that are highly controlled for export:

  • CubeSat kits (available on the Internet)
  • Precision gyroscopes
  • Thermal Imaging Cameras

Another reason this is wrong:

  • Everything in the U.S. (other than published information) is subject-to U.S. export controls.  For example, the following are all subject-to U.S. controls:
    • Laptops, cell phones, smart phones, personal GPS
    • Network routers, modems
    • Software – Microsoft Office, iWork, etc.
    • Oscilloscopes, microscopes, telescopes
    • Field survey instruments

It’s a fundamental research project, so export controls don’t apply”

  • Export controls don’t apply to the research, but do apply to the equipment and software being used
    • If foreign travel, or travel out in to International Waters, is involved, then the equipment and software needs to be assessed prior to export
    • If a piece of hardware is created during the fundamental research, then that piece of hardware is subject-to export controls
    • If software is created, unless it is made publicly available (available for download by anyone without charge) then it is subject-to export controls

“If I carry it with me in my carry-on luggage, I don’t have to worry about export controls”

  • Wrong!  Anything that leaves the U.S. is being exported.
  • There are some export license exemptions for commercial items (not applicable to military or space related items) taken out of the country for use as “tools of trade”
    • The use of these exemptions require documentation
    • Check with the Export Control Officer BEFORE traveling

The bottom line:  Don’t assume, ask the Export Control Officer at 512-475-7963 or