Export Controls: Temporary Exports

TMP Overview

Unlike the export of information resulting from fundamental research, tangible exports of equipment, materials, and laptops plus intangible exports of commercial software, encryption code, and disclosure-restricted technical information are subject to export control regulations.  The dual use Export Administration Regulations, however, make an exception to export license requirements for the temporary export or reexport (less than 12 months from the date of initial shipment/hand-carry) of certain tangible items, software, and technologies subject to regulation for professional use as long as specific criteria are met. 

Stanford University has developed a License Exception TMP Property Export Control Checklist (see below) to assist our faculty, students, and staff in assessing whether their international shipment, hand carry, or transfer of information or software qualifies for the TMP license exception for temporary exports when an export license might otherwise be necessary.  

Stanford research policy requires all eligible exports, including License Exception TMP exports, to be documented.  Stanford export control certifications, including an Annual TMP Certification, are found on the Export Controls Forms Page (see "Forms" at the upper right).  Certifications must be submitted prior to shipment, hand-carry or transfer; the 12 month TMP license exception validity period begins from the date of initial export.  Items overstaying their validity period are in violation of US export control laws and those found to have transgressed are subject to sanction.

NOTE: The University Export Control Office must be contacted to review and approve ANY export (transmission, shipment, hand carry) of Stanford-owned or controlled property, services or export controlled information when:

  • The export is to Iran, Cuba, Syria, (North) Sudan, North Korea or the Crimea Region of the Ukraine;

  • The export involves a US Restricted Party;

  • The export is for ITAR-controlled defense articles, ITAR software, and ITAR technical data.  ITAR-controlled articles, software, and technical data are directly related to specific military systems, missile applications, and certain satellites or spacecraft. All ITAR-listed items require a State Department license for transfers to foreign countries and their nationals, including foreign nationals in the US.

Temporary Export Property Checklist

This checklist summarizes the requirements for an export license exception for temporary international shipments or hand carries of equipment, components, prototypes and materials as well as laptops, tablets, cell phones and other digital storage devices.   The latter are regulated because of their encryption capabilities.  An export license may be required depending on what is on your laptop, tablet, cell phone or digital device and to which country it is being taken.  Laptop licensing violations within academia have led to prison terms for faculty.

Use the checklist below to see if you qualify for License Exception TMP.  Remember, the TMP exception does not apply to export of ITAR items (see "Definitions" at upper right) or ITAR technical data - ITAR exports always require an export license. Immediately contact the Export Control Office if this situation applies to you.

Does My Laptop/Cell Phone or Equipment Shipment or Hand Carry Qualify for License Exception TMP? Yes/No
Will the item or software be shipped or hand carried abroad?    

Will the item or software remain under the "effective control" of Stanford personnel while it is abroad?

Note: "Effective control" is defined as retaining physical possession of an item or maintaining it in a secure environment.

Will the item or software 1) return to the US within 12 months of initial export or 2) be either consumed or destroyed abroad?  
Will the item or software be shipped, retransferred or hand carried to any country other than Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, or North Sudan?  

Will the item or software be used primarily either 1) as a "tool of the trade" to conduct Stanford University business, or 2) for exhibition or demonstration, or 3) for inspection, testing, calibration, or repair?

Note: If for inspection, testing, calibration, or repair, will the item or software be shipped, retransferred or hand-carried to any country other than Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Libya, Macau, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, or Vietnam?


Is the encryption code contained in the item or software limited to that found in retail items or Stanford provided software (example: laptops with commercial software such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS or Stanford “Essential Software”/Whole Disk Encryption)?

Note: If encryption code is inapplicable to your item or software, do not respond. 


 You qualify for License Exception TMP if you answered "Yes" to each question above.

If you find that you do not qualify for License Exception TMP, feel unsure if you are able to meet its terms, or believe it is inapplicable to you, please consult Stanford's Export Controls Decision Tree to see if you meet a "No License Required" (NLR) designation or contact the Export Control Office. 


How do you define "equipment" and "software"?

"Equipment" for the purposes of this FAQ is any Stanford-owned or controlled tangible item. Examples include, but are not limited to, laptops, PDAs, cell phones, and digital storage devices. Tangible property also includes hardware components and research materials such as biological reagents or advanced carbon fiber.

"Software" is defined here as a computer program in either source code (programming statements) or object code such as that found on application program CDs like Microsoft Word or Visio.

Is it true that ANYBODY traveling overseas with a laptop, PDA, cell phone, or digital storage device has to complete the Annual TMP Certification before they travel?

Not true. Qualifying Annual TMP Certification for laptops, PDAs, cell phones, and digital storage devices is only required for Stanford PIs and researchers traveling abroad, and it is only required for those PIs and researchers traveling abroad with Stanford-owned or controlled laptops, PDAs, cell phones, or digital storage devices. The Annual TMP Certification is not to be completed by Stanford administrative personnel or by PIs and researchers traveling abroad with personally-owned laptops, PDAs, cell phones, or digital storage devices.  

However, if ANY export of Stanford-owned or controlled property - whether by a researcher, student or administrator - involves a US Restricted Party, involves ITAR items or technical data, or involves Iran, Cuba, Syria, Sudan or North Korea, you must receive written approval from the University Export Control Office before the export.

In order to use these Certifications, we have to keep the laptops, PDAs, and other equipment taken overseas with us under our "effective control." What do you mean by "effective control"?

"Effective Control" is defined by the regulations as "retaining physical possession of an item or maintaining it in a secure environment such as a hotel safe or a locked or guarded facility."


This certification for qualifying laptop exports is applicable to Stanford researchers only. How do you define "researcher"?

This TMP certification for qualifying laptop exports applies to anyone who is engaged in any funded research inquiry, including departmentally-funded research, university research, or sponsored research. It is NOT applicable to those whose university responsibilities are characterized solely as education/teaching or administration.

Are laptops, PDAs, cell phones, or digital storage devices purchased through Fellowship funds considered personally-owned equipment?

Yes, unless otherwise defined in the terms of the Fellowship. They do not require completion of an Annual TMP Certification for the same reasons cited in the answer to the question above.

We have a single PI in our research group who is the designated property custodian for a large number of Stanford-owned or controlled laptops that all of us use interchangeably. Can the PI sign a "blanket" Annual TMP Certification for all these laptops, as well as for Stanford-owned or controlled PDAs, cell phones, and digital storage devices in our group?

Yes. When applicable to qualifying TMP exports (see "TMP Overview" section above), the PI should do the following for a "blanket" Annual TMP Certification:

  • Create an attachment to the Certification that lists each item's SU Barcode Tag number (if any)/Brand/Model/Serial Number and the names of the research group members that are authorized to use the identified items for overseas travel;

  • Sign the Annual TMP Certification; and

  • Notify each authorized member of the research group of their responsibilities to abide by the terms of the Certification by distributing a copy of the signed Certification and attachment to them via email, with a cc: to the University Export Control Office.

Purpose and Rationale

What useful purpose does this "laptop" certification serve, and if I qualify, why should I complete it?

There are three primary reasons:

  1. To protect Stanford personnel from unintended violations of regulations concerning travel abroad with laptops, PDAs, cell phones, and digital storage devices that might contain proprietary or restricted information or strong encryption code not in the public domain to certain countries like Iran, Cuba, and other comprehensively embargoed destinations. This Certification serves as an important checkpoint as it is not just the device but what is on the device that is the issue for these countries;

  2. To act as a check on travel with laptops, PDAs, cell phones, and digital storage devices used in satellite research or other space-based research that contain third party proprietary or restricted software or information. Such software and information are regulated as defense articles under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and almost always require an export license; and

  3. To help educate the Stanford community about these restrictions and thus reduce the compliance risk to both the University and the traveler as both institutional and personal penalties can apply.

Is the filing of the Annual and One-Time TMP Certifications a federal requirement or a Stanford requirement?

The TMP Certifications on their own are Stanford requirements. However, each of the relevant Federal export control regulations require that exporters determine licensing requirements for their shipments, transfers or hand-carries of tangible items and information that are subject to export control regulations. Stanford export Certifications serve to document the University's commitment to, and compliance with, export control regulations while demonstrating accountability for our export transactions during federal audits.

Why do we have to file a certification for qualifing exports of Stanford-owned or controlled laptops but not for our own personally-owned laptops or PDAs, even if we are traveling abroad?

Stanford is only requiring completion of the Annual TMP Certifications for Stanford-owned or controlled laptops, PDAs, cell phones, and digital storage devices used in conducting Stanford business because the TMP license exception only applies to equipment owned or controlled by the "exporter." An exporter is defined as "The person in the United States who has the authority of a principal party in interest to determine and control the sending of items out of the United States." Stanford University is thus the exporter (principal party in interest) of the laptops, PDAs, cell phones and digital storage devices under its ownership or custodianship. Furthermore, the University has a direct responsibility to monitor the disposition and use of such equipment.

A License Exception BAG is available for dual use exports of personally-owned items. Individuals should consult Part 740.14 of the EAR to determine applicability.


I am a Stanford researcher with a Stanford-owned laptop. Do I have to carry the Annual TMP Certification with me when I travel?

No. The Annual TMP Certification is a Stanford recordkeeping document.  It is not a travel document and may not carry authority with US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agents upon departure or arrival.  Individuals may wish to take a copy if they feel more comfortable doing so.

I travel frequently. Do I need to review the Property Export Control Checklist and complete the Annual TMP Certification fill each time I leave the US?

No. I you qualify, you may complete the Annual TMP Certification once each 12 month period to say that you understand the requirements and will follow them whenever you travel overseas.  

I've recently acquired a new laptop/PDA/cell phone/digital device, but I've already completed an Annual TMP form for qualifying exports within the past year. Do I have to sign a new form?

Yes, you must complete a separate Annual TMP form for the newly-acquired equipment. Each piece of equipment must be certified with identifying information if available (barcode, serial number, etc.). The good news is that the 12-month clock begins anew at the time of submission. Note that previously TMP-certified equipment continues to be covered until the anniversary date of the original submissions.