Export controls and compliance

Aboard SIO-operated oceanographic research vessels

Individual scientists are responsible for preventing the unlicensed transfer of any export controlled technology during any of the conditions described below involving SIO research vessels.

The Scripps Ship Operations and Marine Technical Support department will advise and assist scientist's efforts to comply. The following FAQ addresses common questions.

For more information on export control compliance at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, please contact Mr. Gary Lain by email at dlain@ucsd.edu or by phone at 858.534.0193

Links to frequently asked questions:

Introduction: What are Export Controls?
Two lists of controlled items: EAR vs ITAR
What is an export?
Who is a Foreign National/Person
What is a re-export?
What is a deemed export?

Click here for UCSD's guidelines regarding export control


Introduction: What are Export Controls?

Export control laws are federal regulations that control the conditions under which certain information, technologies, and commodities can be transmitted or shipped overseas (including U.S. citizens and U.S.-flagged research vessels), or disclosed, released or transferred to a foreign national on U.S. territory, including SIO research vessels (this is called a "deemed export").

Generally, an export includes any of the following:

  • An actual shipment from the United States to a foreign destination of any controlled information, technologies or commodities (including transfer to a U.S. citizen abroad);
  • The electronic or digital transmission of any controlled goods or items;
  • Any release or disclosure, including verbal disclosures or visual inspections, of any technology, software or technical data related to export controlled items to any foreign national on U.S. territory, ("deemed export");
  • Actual use or application of controlled technology on behalf of or for the benefit of a foreign entity or person.
The laws are implemented by the U.S. Department of Commerce - Bureau of Industrial Security, through its Export Administration Regulations (referred to as the "EAR") and through the U.S. Department of State -- International Traffic in Arms Regulations (referred to as "ITAR").

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Two lists of controlled items: EAR vs ITAR

There are two main lists of "controlled items":

  • EAR Commerce Control List
  • ITAR U.S. Munitions List
If the commodity, information, or technology is on either list, an export control review must be completed prior to shipment overseas, or release to a foreign national anywhere, and the results of the review should be documented.

For ITAR controlled items, a license is always required, even for transits through international waters. For EAR controlled items, a license may or may not be required, contingent on destination and possible license exceptions. Note that international waters are NOT a controlled destination under the EAR.

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What is an export?

The federal definition of export controls is U.S. federal government laws and regulations that require federal agency approval before the export of controlled items, commodities, technology, software or information to restricted foreign countries, persons and entities (including universities).

The three federal government agencies responsible for implementing the export control regulations for our purposes are:

  • The Department of Commerce
  • The Department of State
  • The Department of Treasury
The federal definition of an export is any item that is sent from the U.S. to a foreign destination...
  • ...to anyone outside the U.S., including U.S. citizens
  • ...to foreign entities, individuals, embassies or affiliates at any location, including the U.S.
"Items" include, but are not limited to, commodities, software or technology, retail software packages and technical information.

In a university situation, these items include, but are not limited to:
  • unpublished research findings
  • funds that are transferred to restricted countries, entities or persons
  • biological specimens
  • microorganisms
  • toxins
  • electronics
  • computers
  • telecommunications
  • lasers
  • sensors
At the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, items requiring an EAR or ITAR license for export have have included:
  • night vision goggles
  • military spec timing devices
  • precision positioning systems (GPS)
  • hydrophones
  • inertial navigation systems
  • acoustic deck units
  • transponders
  • echosounders
  • ROVs
  • Towed data logger systems

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Who is a Foreign National/Person?

The federal definition of a foreign national is a person who is not:

  • granted permanent U.S. residence, as demonstrated by the issuance of a permanent residence card, i.e., a "Green Card"
  • granted U.S. citizenship
  • granted status as a "protected person" under 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3), e.g., political refugees, political asylum holders, etc.
This includes all persons in the U.S. as students, businesspeople, scholars, researchers, technical experts, etc. By convention, the term "Foreign national" is used by the Department of Commerce, while the term "foreign person" is used by the Department of State.

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What is a re-export?

The federal definition of a re-export is the shipment or transmission of an item subject to regulation from one foreign country (i.e., a country other than the U.S.) to another foreign country. Shipment or transmission may occur in any of the following ways:

  • phone
  • e-mail
  • lab tours
  • meetings
  • computer data
A re-export also occurs when there is a "release" of technology or software (source code) subject to regulation in one foreign country to a national of another foreign country.

In a university situation, a re-export might occur when an investigator is approved via an award to deliver a paper at conferences in two different countries. The investigator will carry a laptop with his or her presentation materials. A determination must be made to identify whether an export license is necessary before the travel takes place.

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What is a deemed export?

The federal definition of a deemed export is an export of technology or source code (except encryption source code) that is "deemed" to take place when it is released to a foreign national within the U.S.

A "deemed" export situation can occur by access/use in research or training, visual inspection, or an oral exchange of information.

In a university situation, a deemed export might occur when an investigator requires a foreign national to have access to or use of a controlled laser. A determination must be made to identify whether or not an export license is needed prior to that individual accessing or using the laser.

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For more information on export control compliance at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, please contact Mr. Gary Lain by email at dlain@ucsd.edu or by phone at 858.534.0193