Business Services – Export Controls Overview and Frequently Asked Questions

This article provides a high-level overview of export controls and provides a list of FAQs that faculty and staff may have when conducting business internationally or working on campus with non-U.S. persons.

 Functional Owner


 Executive Sponsors

 Vice Chancellor for Administration & Finance

 Export Controls Contact

 Assistant Controller


Who This Knowledge Base Article Applies to

Any employee that conducts business with foreign individuals or companies within the U.S. or abroad. This includes but is not limited to employees who travel internationally, anyone shipping equipment overseas, faculty who have non-U.S. persons conducting research on campus, and faculty who have international collaborators or research projects.

Export Controls Overview

Export controls refer to a group of federal laws and regulations that control certain commodities, technologies, information, and data. These regulations limit what can be shipped out of the country and to whom it can be shipped. They are used to limit access to information for certain foreign nationals and organizations. Export control policy also determines when a license is required to ship items or information abroad. The regulations can affect:

  • What type of research can be done
  • Hiring decisions
  • Who information can be shared with
  • What collaborators and sponsors are worked with
  • Where items are shipped
  • What items are shipped
  • Level of security for projects/labs


At UWL, export control issues are most commonly found with grants or contracts involving international individuals and entities. The Contract Administration team flags export control issues in the contracts that they review, and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs flags any grant project that may need an export control review. Faculty and staff are expected to be aware of export control policies and contact the Business Services office if they have a situation that may need to be reviewed further.

The following FAQ is provided to help faculty and staff determine if they have an export control situation and to provide a contact to reach out to for documenting the situation and obtaining the proper approvals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What constitutes an export?

Physical exports involve sending or taking anything out of the United States in any manner, except mere travel outside of the US by a person whose personal knowledge includes technical data, including:

  • Shipping – commercial shippers or hand-carry
  • Verbal transfer of technical data (i.e., Phone, Zoom)
  • Electronic transfer of technical data (i.e., email, fax, text, social media)
  • Items: computers, equipment, biological agents, substances, etc.

Deemed exports are the transfer (oral or visual disclosure) of technology, information, or data to a foreign person within the US. In these situations, the transferred item is deemed to be exported to the foreign person’s home country.

Are spreadsheets and word documents covered under export control law?

Yes, if these items are being shared with non-U.S. persons and the content isn’t exempted in any way, it would be considered an export subject to export control law.

What constitutes a foreign person/organization and how do they differentiate from a U.S. Person?

A foreign person/organization is anyone who is not a U.S. Person.

A U.S. Person is:

  • U.S. citizen or National
  • Permanent resident (green card holder) of the U.S.
  • A refugee, someone granted political asylum, or someone granted amnesty
  • U.S. government agency and any state or local governments therein
  • U.S. company, business, LLC, or partnership
  • U.S. university


I am looking to collaborate with a foreign person or organization on a project. How do I clear their name to make sure that I can do business with them?

You will want to reach out to Business Services so that we can perform a Restricted Party Screening (RPS) on all international collaborators working with you. A RPS involves looking the individual or entity up to see if they have been identified on any posted government watchlists. In the rare event that an individual or entity appears as a restricted party, you will need to work with Business Services to determine what, if any, activities can be done with the identified restricted parties.

I purchased equipment that I want to take with me on my international trip from a website that does business internationally (i.e., Does this equipment need to be reviewed before I can take it with me?

In general, yes. Just because an item was purchased by a company that sells to international clients, it is up to that company to do its own export control reviews. The company does not know that you, a U.S. person, intends to bring the item out of the country when they sold it to you.

How much time do I need to give Business Services to perform an export control search.

If you think you have an export control issue, you should reach out to Business Services as soon as possible, but certainly before you start work with non-U.S. Persons or ship items. Restricted Party Screenings are quick to do and if there are no hits on the searched entity, then you are free to continue your work. If the individual or company is listed as a restricted party, there may be limitations on what work you can do with them.

When evaluating equipment for export control restrictions, you should provide several weeks’ notice. The equipment needs to be evaluated, and in certain circumstances the components within the equipment may need to be evaluated. If restrictions are identified and no exceptions exist, you may need to apply for an export license which could several months to obtain.

Most licenses give a minimum of 45 days to be fully processed, but it could be longer depending on the license needed. Failure to obtain a required license will limit what you can bring outside of the U.S. or provide to non-U.S. persons.

What happens if I am found not to be in compliance with export controls?

Business Services works to ensure that export control cases are compliant. The campus community, however, is an important partner in identifying potential export control issues. It is important if you think that you may have an export control issue to reach out with questions. Individuals who are found to not be in compliance with export controls may face the following consequences:

  • Civil and criminal penalties levied against individuals & organizations
  • Disciplinary action by the University toward the responsible individual
  • Representational damage
  • Loss of research funding

Revision History

Last Reviewed: January 18, 2023

Updated: January 18, 2023

Supporting Tools



University Responsibility

Business Services oversees all non-HR export control-related reviews.

Employee Responsibility

Employees should report any export control-related events or questions to Business Services as soon as they become aware of them.

Links to Related Information

Keywords:Export Controls, Export, Restricted Party Screening, International   Doc ID:123473
Owner:Spencer G.Group:UW-La Crosse
Created:2023-01-19 13:02 CDTUpdated:2023-01-20 16:39 CDT
Sites:UW-La Crosse
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