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Answers to your most frequently asked export controls questions

15 Jan 2020

The team are currently reviewing the export controls process and have provided this guidance in the interim

Answers to your most frequently asked export controls questions

Core export controls are the rules governing the transfer of certain items from the UK, including physical goods and non-physical items such as software and technology (which includes information, knowledge and research data). The end-user controls under these regulations cover who the recipient of the item is, and what will they use it for. 

All University staff and students, and anyone undertaking activities on behalf of the University, should be aware of export controls requirements.

We understand that many of our colleagues are currently finding their obligations surrounding export controls confusing. The Export controls team are working to complete a full review of the current webpages. In the interim, the team have supplied guidance on the topics they are most frequently asked about.

What export controls apply when attending a conference?

  • If you’re attending a conference or similar public event that anyone can access and join, and not taking or disclosing any ‘controlled’ (restricted by the Government) information, you do not require an export licence
  • If you are presenting or exhibiting a poster on a subject matter which is not controlled, you do not require an export licence – this includes information that is already in the public domain

If your presentation contains controlled information, you have two options:

1. Adapt the presentation to exclude the controlled information – by removing or anonymising certain aspects of the research data, you can still present it without an export control licence.

2. Present the controlled information with an export control licence

  • If it is critical that the presentation shares the controlled information, you must apply for, and be in receipt of, an active licence before attending the event
  • To apply for a licence, please email the Export Control Compliance Project Team (ECCPT)

Please be aware that if you’re not presenting at a conference/similar public event, and are just in attendance, you should not be discussing controlled information without a licence either.

Do I need a blank electronic device – such as a laptop or storage USB – to replace my existing devices when travelling overseas on University business?

  • If you’re working with certain controlled items which don’t require a licence and are going to be exported to the EU (Intra-community items), you will not require a blank device
  • Certain controlled items still need licences even when exporting to the EU; you can determine whether your item requires one by checking the Government’s OGEL checker tool
  • For external and internal auditing purposes, you must keep records of these exports
  • Before you travel, please email the Export Control Compliance Project Team (ECCPT) with a list of the items you intend to take with you

You’ll require a blank device when working with all other controlled items without an export control licence

The University advises that you do not take controlled items or controlled data out of the UK. With regards to data we advise that you:

  • Do not take electronic devices containing controlled data with you
  • Request a blank electronic device from IT Services or take your current device with you but remove the controlled information. Please note that when requesting a blank device, you will need to have ready the export control code that identifies which controlled item your research data is related to
  • To obtain this code, use the Government’s goods checker tool and browse the UK strategic list to identify the relevant code
  • Use Webmail instead of Outlook to access your emails. If you have an attachment that you suspect contains controlled data, please do not open it abroad
  • Do not use the University shared drives or other University servers to access your controlled information from abroad

Laptop loans for this purpose will be available from IT in the New Year, further comms will be issued at this time.

Do I need an export control licence to submit a manuscript for publication that contains controlled data?

No. In isolation, submitting a manuscript that contains controlled data to a publishing company and its subsequent publication, does not require an export licence.

However, if you have not yet assessed your project for export controls and you are about to submit a manuscript for publication, you need to assess your project using the University guidance.

If you believe that restrictions could apply, email the Export Control Compliance Project Team (ECCPT). The ECCPT will be able to determine whether export control restrictions apply to your ongoing work and/or whether approval for publication of any work undertaken so far is also necessary.

Do I need an export control licence to undertake work with controlled data, whether there is an intention to publish the work or not?

  • If your collaborators and/or funders are based in the UK, you do not require a licence to undertake controlled work or to publish it
  • If your collaborators and/or funders are not based in the UK, a licence is required to undertake controlled work (regardless of whether you intend to publish it). The licence will cover any exchange of controlled information, knowledge, goods or technology between you and your collaborators, and any subsequent publication

Are there any further concerns for colleagues in FBMH?

Research in FBMH is not currently considered high risk in relation to the Government’s consolidated list, which is the core export controls:  as most FBMH research does not relate to any item listed. 

However, there are four areas that could be of concern for FBMH colleagues:

  1. Certain biological items and the equipment required to use them
  2. Certain Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) chemicals: to determine which ones, search the consolidated list using the name or CAS number of the chemical
  3. Cross-disciplinary projects (when FBMH is collaborating with FSE internally or with other engineering departments outside the University) should be assessed using the University guidance
  4. End-user controls: despite FBMH projects posing a low risk, the University’s due diligence process includes checking the entity (institution or organisation) with whom any researcher collaborates with, to assess that no end-user controls are applicable. If they are, the appropriate licence will be sought to enable the research to take place at the University

It is the responsibility of every FBMH researcher to:

  • Self-assess their own research project 
  • Ensure any entities linked to your funders and/or collaborators are checked by the ECCPT before signing any new agreements and before visitors arrive at the University. The information required for ECCPT to run checks on your collaborators, funders, or visitors can be found in the ECCPT webpages

Further support

  • If you are not sure whether the items you’re working with are controlled or have any concerns related to end-user controls please email the ECCPT