What you need to know

Nearly every item, material, or software (collectively, “products”) in the U.S. is subject to U.S. export controls. Products are listed either on the United States Munitions List (USML) or the Commerce Control List (CCL). If a product is listed on the USML, it is subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). They are federal regulations administered by the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls under the U.S. Department of State. The ITAR governs all military, weapons, and space related items and services. If a product is listed on the CCL, it is subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which are administered by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) under the Department of Commerce. 

What is an Export Control Classification?

Every product has an export control classification. The classification determines the level and type of export restrictions. Products listed on the USML are highly controlled and have Roman numeral export classifications, going from Category I to Category XXI.

Products listed on the CCL will generally have a 5-digit alpha-numeric export control classification number (ECCN), such as 3C005 or 6A003. Many products that are used on a daily basis have an export control classification number of “EAR99”, which is a catch-all designation for products subject to the EAR but not listed on the CCL.

How do I know whether a product I am purchasing or receiving from another party is controlled?

Most daily-use products that are purchased or received at Brown are likely classified as “EAR99” (pens, test tubes, autoclaves, ect.).  However, don’t assume that just because a product is cheap or can easily be purchased online, it is “EAR99”, and is not listed on the CCL or USML.  Many commercially available products we use at the University, including laptops, cell phones, smart phones, GPS systems, telescopes, and drones, are, in fact, listed on the CCL. Moreover, some commercial off-the-shelf products, such as thermal imaging cameras, precision gyroscopes, and focal plane arrays are highly controlled.

Here is the list of products that could be highly controlled.  Whenever you are purchasing or receiving a product that is on this list, you should pause and ask the vendor to provide you with the product’s export classification. You can use the following sample email when reaching out to the vendor or person who is sending you products. If you need assistance, please contact the University’s Export Control Officer.

Please note that this list is not inclusive; you can reach out to the vendor whenever you buy a product that is not commonly used in the office and in the lab.

Other potential “Red Flags” when buying or receiving products

  • Read the sales terms and conditions! If you see any reference to “export controls” or “compliance with export controls”, verify the product’s export classification. While sales terms and conditions sometimes include pro-forma export control language, more often than not there is a reason this language is added. The vendor may be selling export controlled products.
  • Look at the Purchase Order, the Company Quote, or Order Summary. Does it contain any reference to “export controls” or perhaps the “ITAR”? Sometimes, vendors will explicitly state on the PO or sales quote that the product you are about to procure is export controlled. If you see any such reference, ask the vendor for more details and contact the Export Control Officer.
  • When products arrive, check the packaging for any reference to “export controls” or “export control classification numbers”. If you see any references to export controls, contact the Export Control Officer as soon as possible.
  • The vendor or sender of the product requests that you sign an “End-User” certification or some other document that requires you to certify the product’s end-use and end-user. Such certifications are usually an indication that the product is controlled. If you are asked to sign an “end-user” certificate, please contact the Export Control Officer.