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Principles & Definitions

Potential export control restrictions in research are evaluated case-by-case based on the following principles and concepts.  When export controls apply to your research activity, a U-M Technology Control Plan and/or an Export Control License (i.e., approval to export) from the federal agency are required to ensure the researcher, the research, and the university are compliant with the regulations.

Export Control Principles

The export control regulations seek to limit the dissemination (i.e. export) of certain technologies, technical information, and services (e.g., training using technical information) to foreign countries, persons, or entities in order to:

  1. Safeguard national security
  2. Limit proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons
  3. Monitor missile technology
  4. Promote regional stability
  5. Assist in U.S. antiterrorism efforts

Export Control Definitions

Export – an overseas transfer by any method of a physical item, computer program, or information ("technical data" or "technology") itemized on ITAR’s United States Munitions List (USML) or EAR’s Commerce Control List (CCL).

Deemed Export – the dissemination by any method (e.g., verbal, written, access to) of export-controlled information to a foreign-national from a restricted country; or a person or organization appearing on OFAC’s Sanctioned Programs and Country List and/or Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List.  A “deemed export” can take place in U.S. or abroad.

Export-controlled Services – supplying assistance (including training) to restricted foreign-nationals inside the U.S. or abroad with the design, development (i.e., engineering, manufacturing, production, assembly), testing, repair or maintenance, modification, operation or processing, and/or destruction of items or technical data on ITAR’s United States Munitions List (USML)

  • Export-controlled services are also referred to as “defense services”
  • Items and technical data on the USML are also referred to as “defense articles”

Technical Assistance – supplying instruction, skills training, working knowledge, or consulting services which involve the transfer of technical data for items on EAR’s Commerce Control List (CCL).

Public Domain/Publicly Available – information, software, technology (except encryption software), that is or will be published publicly and/or generally accessible to the public in any form (e.g., via libraries, patented) that arises during or results from fundamental research.  This includes information taught in courses at accredited U.S. universities, or presented at open conferences in the U.S. See the ITAR and EAR regulations for specific and detailed definitions.

Export Control Categories

In general, the export controls regulations apply to products and any related equipment, material, software or information that is required to develop, produce, or use a controlled product.  ~ MIT Office of Sponsored Programs, Export Controls web site, Scope

Both the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) categorize long lists of controlled products into broad categories, which may help you identify if your research will be subject to export controls or identify the section of the regulations to review.

ITAR - United States Munitions List (USML)

Category Definition
I Firearms, Close Assault Weapons, Combat Shotguns
II Guns & Armaments
III Ammunition & Ordinance
IV Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs, Mines
V Explosives, Energetic Material, Propellants, Incendiary Agents, and their constituents
VI Vessels of War & Special Naval Equipment
VII Ground Vehicles (Tanks & Military Vehicles)
VIII Aircraft and associated equipment
IX Military Training Equipment & Training
X Protective Personnel Equipment (e.g., body armor)
XI Military Electronics
XII Fire Control, Range Finder, Optical and Guidance and Control Equipment
XIII Auxiliary Military Equipment (materials & miscellaneous articles)
XIV Toxicological Agents, including chemical and biological agents and associated equipment
XV Spacecraft Systems and associated equipment
XVI Nuclear Weapons, Design & Testing related items
XVII Classified Articles, Technical Data, & Defense Services
XVIII Direct Energy Weapons (e.g., lasers)
XIX Gas Turbine Engines and associated equipment
XX Submersible Vessels, Oceanographic and associate equipment
XXI Articles, Technical Data, and Defense Services (reserved)

EAR - Commerce Control List (CCL)

Category Definition
0 Nuclear Materials, Facilities & Equipment
1 Materials, Chemicals, Microorganisms, & Toxins
2 Materials Processing
3 Electronics
4 Computers
5 Telecommunications & Information Security
6 Sensors & Lasers
7 Navigation & Avionics
8 Marine
9 Aerospace & Propulsion

EAR also has a “catchall” category, EAR99, that covers items not categorized.

Each CCL category lists controlled items in five (5) sub-categories, each item with its own five-character, alphanumeric Export Controls Classification Number (EECN).

A. Equipment, Assembly and Components
B. Test, Inspection and Production Equipment
C. Material
D. Software
E. Technology

References and Resources


Questions?  Contact the Export Controls Office at: