Research Policy Handbook


Export Licenses for International Transfers of Items, Software or Technical Information

Now in Policy Details

Describes documentation requirements; identifies resources for export control determinations including export license exceptions, exclusions and “No License Required” (NLR) assessments.

1. Export Licenses for International Transfers of Items, Software or Technical Information

The Commerce Department has export jurisdiction over all tangible items, software and "technology" (technical information) in the United States unless some other agency has expressly been given such authority. However, this does not mean that a license must be obtained before any tangible item, software code or piece of technical information can be shipped. An Export Controls Decision Tree is available to assist in determining the applicability of export control regulations in the case of shipments of tangible items or transfers or transmission of software code or technical information to foreign countries and their nationals.

In order to determine whether it is necessary to obtain an export license from the relevant federal agency to send tangible items or to transfer or transmit software code or technical information outside the United States, the researcher preparing the shipment or transfer needs to consider:

  • whether the software code or information is disclosure-restricted and thus subject to export control, or whether it resulted from fundamental research to which export controls do not apply
  • the technical characteristics and specifications of the tangible item, software or technical information
  • its intended end-use and end-user
  • its destination

All tangible items, software code and information not on a US export control list may be shipped or transmitted to any country, individual or entity that is not sanctioned, embargoed or otherwise restricted for export. Such items, code, and information may be exported under "No License Required" (NLR) provisions.

Certain overseas shipments or transmissions being handled on a "No License Required" basis will require an explanation and justification for that classification. Stanford electronic NLR Certification templates for such justifications are available.  Submission of the appropriate Stanford export control Certification is a Stanford Policy requirement. The Documents tab in the “Related Items” section below includes detailed guidance on export certification submission requirements. See RPH: Recordkeeping Requirements for additional information about recordkeeping.

The University Export Control Office should be contacted for any international shipment, or international transfer of commercial software code or confidential technical information, identified on an export control list.

Note also that specific training and documentation is needed whenever you are shipping chemicals, biologicals, or other dangerous materials. See Environmental Health & Safety website for more information.