Exporting goods, technology and software

Exporting goods

The physical movement of any goods (e.g. lab equipment, biological materials, laptops, etc.) outside of the United States is considered an export and must be done so in compliance with U.S. export laws. This includes goods that you hand carry out of the United States in the course of international travel.

It is strongly recommended to have any exports reviewed in advance by the Office of Export Controls prior to shipment. OEC will review to ensure proper licensing and compliance practices are in place. All military goods (including those produced through DARPA funding) and items qualified for operation in outer space will require a license to be exported, as will various commercial grade products.  Click here to submit an export classification request to OEC.

Any export to one of the following embargoed countries must be reviewed by OEC well in advance as it will likely require a license (regardless of commodity):

  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Syria

Exports valued at more than $2,500.00 must be reported to the US government through an EEI (Electronic Export Information) submission, formerly known as Shipper's Export Declaration (SED), regardless of whether or not a license is required.

See here for further info on license applications and EEI filings.

Export Shipping Paperwork

Export laws require that all shipping documents (Customs Invoices, Packing Lists, Export Licenses, Purchase Orders, emails, etc.) be kept for a minimum of five years from the time of export.

Any controlled export will require a Destination Control Statement (see below) noted on the customs invoice to combat re-exports. This statement is often pre-printed on international shipping labels (e.g., FedEx) but it is the responsibility of the shipper to ensure that it's also on their invoice: 

These items are controlled by the U.S. government and authorized for export only to the country of ultimate destination for use by the ultimate consignee or end-user(s) herein identified. They may not be resold, transferred, or otherwise disposed of, to any other country or to any person other than the authorized ultimate consignee or end-user(s), either in their original form or after being incorporated into other items, without first obtaining approval from the U.S. government or as otherwise authorized by U.S. law and regulations.

 To ensure compliance with this requirement it is recommended that this statement appear on all export customs invoices (regardless of commodity/destination/end-use) as a standard data element.  You may wish to use the below template for all international shipping activity:

Exporting Technology and Software

Technical Data (aka technology) is defined as information which is required for the design, development, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, repair, testing, maintenance or modification of an item. This includes information in the form of blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, instructions or documentation (as well as many other forms).

Providing controlled technology (or software source code) to a foreign national in the United States or abroad is deemed to be an export of that technology to the country of citizenship or residence of said foreign national. For example, sharing design information on night vision goggles with a foreign national is an act which is subject to the same export restrictions and requirements as physically shipping those night vision goggles to the foreign national's home country.

An export occurs when there is a “release” of controlled technology (or software source code) to a foreign national.  “Release” is defined as:

  • Visual or other inspection by foreign persons of an item that reveals technology or software source code to a foreign person
  • Oral or written exchanges with foreign persons of technology or software source code in the United States or abroad

A “release” to a foreign national that takes place within the U.S. is known as a “Deemed Export”. As mentioned above, deemed exports are activities that are regulated in the same way that physical exports of tangible goods are; restrictions and requirements may apply.

Other ways to export data without actually sending the information abroad are:

  • Sharing controlled data at a conference anywhere in the world with foreign nationals present
  • Allowing a foreign national to observe how controlled goods are developed and/or produced
  • Providing instruction to a foreign national on how a controlled good is “used” (operation, installation, maintenance, and repair)
  • E-mailing controlled data to a foreign national located in the United States or abroad
  • Providing information to another person with the intention that the data or technology will be shared abroad or with a foreign national whether in the United States or not.

Exempt Technology

Note that the following types of technology are not subject to U.S. export controls and may be shared freely with any party:

  1. Technology that is already in the public domain
  2. Technology that is taught in catalog courses at Duke
  3. Technology that arises from Fundamental Research
Note:  Software is deemed to be in the public domain when the source code is published. Software that is designed for military, space, underwater, or controlled technologies will be controlled for export.