Resources for Departments - EC

International Travel

University of South Florida (USF) faculty, researchers, and staff frequently travel to foreign countries on behalf of their work at the university. Generally, there are few problems or delays. However, some situations may require extra measures.

In recent years, we've seen heightened government security concerning university research and activities. It is important that the USF community demonstrates awareness for foreign travel risks when traveling on behalf of the university. The Office of Export Controls is here to help you through the process while minimizing impact to your travel plans.

University of South Florida employees who travel internationally to teach or conduct research should be aware of the possibility of export license requirements for items, materials, or equipment that they carry with them. Hand-carrying items, materials, or equipment outside of the U.S. (even temporarily) is considered an export. All exports should be screened by the Office of Export Controls for export license requirements. Depending on the destination and the equipment involved, an export license may be required. In most cases, a license exception may be available, but must be processed before travel. The USF Office of Export Controls (email:, can make this determination and provide the appropriate documentation.

BEFORE traveling abroad there are three basic questions that university personnel need to consider when determining if export controls apply to their travel:

Where are you going?
In general, travel to most countries is not a problem with the exception of highly sanctioned and embargoed countries. The "Florida Travel Act" Section 1011.90(6), Florida Statutes, prohibits State-funded official travel to countries designated as a "state sponsor of terrorism" (Iran, Sudan, and Syria). Travel to other sanctioned or embargoed destinations is subject to federal licensing and trade sanction regulations which heavily regulate and sometimes prohibit travel and other interactions with such countries, including research and seemingly innocuous activity such as teaching a course with publicly available information. Contact the Office of Export Controls as early as possible before making plans to travel to these countries.

When traveling abroad it is always a good idea to review up-to-date travel warnings and alerts from Travel.State.Gov. Further guidance can be found at the TSA website and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection site.

What are you taking with you?

  • For most low-tech, commercially-obtained items (laptops, tablets, cell phones, PDAs containing software), an export license will NOT be required unless you are traveling to or through a comprehensively sanctioned country (e.g., Cuba, Iran, Syria, Sudan, and North Korea) in which case an export license will almost certainly be required — even for everyday items such as cell phones and laptop computers.
  • Do not take data or analyses that resulted from projects for which there are contractual constraints on the dissemination of the research (information, technical data, and/or software). Remove this data from your laptop prior to leaving the United States.
  • Do not take any kind of encryption products (beyond the normal Microsoft Office Suite). Some encryption items may require a license or a documented exception if the product(s) are listed on either the Commerce Control List or the United States Munitions List (USML).
  • Take only published, educational or research information intended for public distribution (such as a paper being presented at a conference, commercial software, and patent applications.)
  • Maintain effective control of any USF items or equipment in your possession. This means you either retain physical possession of the item or you secure the item in such an environment as a hotel safe, or a locked or guarded meeting or conference facility. Avoid using other computers to log into a USF network or website. Consider any information or electronic component that leaves your possession and visual control for more than two minutes, compromised.
  • Rule of Thumb: If you don't need it, don't take it with you!

What is the Purpose of the Trip?

  • Presentations & Seminars: Information presented at seminars must be limited to topics that are not related to export-controlled items or technologies unless that information is already in the public domain. Open seminars are usually not problematic unless they take place in a sanctioned country or involve restricted parties.
  • Foreign Collaborations: Publically available information or fundamental research can be shared with foreign colleagues so long as the recipients are not employees or representatives of the government of a sanctioned country, or restricted parties. This includes normal academic peer-review or publishing processes.
  • It is important to remember that while the results/information resulting from Fundamental Research are not subject to export controls and can be shared without a license, any items, technology, or software generated under that Fundamental Research would be subject to export controls and may require an export license.
  • Field Work: Any university research activity done outside the U.S. may not qualify for the Fundamental Research Exclusion and would therefore not be protected from export controls until the work is published or otherwise made publicly available. Before disclosing or sharing information or data resulting from international field work it is important to ensure that the information is not export restricted.
  • Provision of Financial Assistance: In order to ensure compliance with OFAC regulations prohibiting the university from providing material or financial assistance to any blocked or sanctioned individual or entity, any university activity that involves payment to a non-U.S. person, business, or organization (e.g., international subcontracts, purchase of items from international vendors, or payments to research participants) must be verified against all appropriate sanctioned party and entity lists. Contact the Office of Export Controls by email for help in verifying any international financial transaction(s).
  • Research & Instruction Outside of the U.S.: Research and course instruction conducted outside of the U.S. may not qualify for the fundamental research exclusion. Export controls may apply until the work is published or is otherwise in the public domain. Before teaching a course or disclosing information outside of the U.S. it is important to ensure that the information is not subject to export control laws and regulations.