Frequently Asked Questions

In this context, a "red flag" is an event or circumstance that suggests an export control violation may occur as a result. It is unlawful under U.S. export control regulations to proceed with an activity with the knowledge that a violation has occurred or is about to occur. The following are examples of situations at a university setting that present a "red flag". Please contact ECO immediately in the event that any of the following or similar situations has occurred:

  • The collaborator, service provider, or other external party is reluctant to provide information on how your research, equipment, or materials will be used.
  • The proposed engagement is seemingly for academic or commercial purposes, but the external party is a military entity or has links to its home country's military.
  • A foreign entity offers you a grant, but you noticed it has received negative press for actions condemned by the U.S. government, and/or is a denied or sanctioned party on a U.S. government list.
  • foreign collaborator states that an export control review by Emory is not necessary.

The Bureau of Industry and Security has provided a list of red flag scenarios to consider.

Depending on the regulatory jurisdiction and nature of the violation, penalties can include fines, loss of export privileges, and/or imprisonment. In an enforcement action, the authorities will consider a combination of mitigation and aggravating factors before determining the penalty. Liability under the regulations is strict, meaning no intent or knowledge is required to violate the law. Export control regulations are unique in that both Emory University and individual actors can be found liable. Violation of export controls would also constitute violation of Emory policy and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. As of 2022, the maximum civil and criminal penalties are as follows: 


  • Maximum civil penalty: The greater of $328,121 per violation or twice the value of the transaction
  • Maximum criminal penalty: Up to $1 million per violation and/or 20 years in prison


  • Maximum civil penalty: Up to $1,272,251 per violation
  • Maximum criminal penalty: Up to $1 million per violation and/or 20 years in prison


  • Maximum civil penalty: Varies based on specific sanctions program, but can be up to $330,947
  • Maximum criminal penalty: Up to $1 million per violation and/or 20 years in prison

No. If part or all of your research is export-controlled, ECO will determine what steps are necessary to comply with the export control regulations. Risk mitigation measures will depend on the particulars of each case. They can include having a Technology Control Plan to safeguard the research from unauthorized access or obtaining a license from relevant federal agency to allow Foreign Persons to participate in research. Licenses can take several weeks before they are granted, so PIs are encouraged to contact ECO as soon as possible to avoid delays.

ECO works closely with the Office of Sponsored Programs, Office of Technology Transfer, and principal investigators to address any export control stipulations in grants and contracts. Contact ECO to discuss how to ensure compliance. Please do not make any determinations on your own.

The transfer of export-controlled information or technology to a Foreign Person located in the U.S. is called a deemed export. Since an export can be intangible under the regulations, such a transfer would be "deemed" an export to the Foreign Person's country of citizenship. Deemed exports are just as regulated as other types of exports. Sharing of information that is not subject to export control is not an export.

If the research sponsor requires any of the following, the research does not meet the definition of fundamental research and is therefore subject to export control regulations:

  • Research results cannot be published.
  • Restrictions on research participation based on citizenship .
  • Pre-publication review beyond what is necessary to ensure that patent rights are not compromised or that proprietary information is not inadvertently shared. Pre-publication review by the research sponsor should not cause more than a temporary delay in publication of results.
  • Government review before publication with a right to withhold permission to publish.

Apart from sponsor restrictions, if you decide to restrict or protect the release or publication of results and maintain the results as restricted or proprietary, the results become subject to export control regulations.

There are several biological agents and toxins on subject to export control restrictions. These may require an export license to be exported to certain countries or end-users and for certain end-uses. Shipping these materials may also have specific requirements under other regulations (e.g., packaging and labeling under Department of Transportation) handled by other Emory offices. Please contact ECO for help with export control compliance (PDF).

While research in the social sciences (or otherwise outside of the natural sciences or engineering) is less likely to involve export controlled items or technology, sanctions regulations may still apply to activities such as travel, transactions involving blocked parties, or activities in sanctioned destinations. Trade and economic sanctions may impose embargoes on exports and imports of goods or services and financial transactions. In these cases, an export license may be required.

Contact ECO. ECO will determine if an export license is required to export the items. If a license is required, there may be a need to wait until the necessary authorization is in place. ECO will also determine if an Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing is required. If you are working with a freight forwarder (e.g., FedEx), they can typically file the required EEI on Emory's behalf, but ECO may need to provide them with certain information, such an item's Export Control Classification Number, prior to export. If you are not working with a freight forwarder, Emory itself may need to file an export declaration with the Census bureau.

No. All non-fundamental research is export-controlled regardless of the sponsor.

Yes. It is important that your collaborator and their institution are screened against the restricted party lists maintained by the U.S. government. ECO can conduct this screening and it only takes a few minutes. If your collaborator is on any of these lists, ECO will work with you to determine how to proceed.

No. Different countries have different export control regimes. What is not controlled or restricted under another country's laws could very well be controlled or restricted under U.S. law, or vice versa. For example, the European Union (EU) does not maintain comprehensive sanctions against Iran and Cuba like the U.S. does. That does not mean that Emory researchers are automatically authorized to engage with those countries by virtue of having an EU collaborator. Always check with ECO to ensure compliance from the U.S. perspective. Other institutions cannot make export control reviews on behalf of Emory.

No. Export controls are federal laws and regulations that, in a university setting, typically apply to various kinds of activities that occur during research. Foreign influence refers to risks posed by foreign entities, including other universities, whose connections to their home countries' governments and militaries may undermine the integrity of Emory's research. A particular activity may pose both export control and foreign influence risks.