International Travel

In general, travel to most countries is not a problem. Tighter export controls are in effect for countries that are comprehensively sanctioned or have restrictions on trade enforced by various departments of the U.S. government. The following, most comprehensively-sanctioned countries will require advance planning and coordination with our Export Control office: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Contact us as soon as you anticipate travel to one of these countries.

Travelers to China should be aware the government has retained individuals for their social media postings. See this CNN article for additional information.

Where are you headed?

When traveling abroad, it is always a good idea to contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate before you depart. To register your travel plans with an embassy and receive helpful safety and emergency information related to your destination, visit the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. For more information about U.S. Embassies and Consular Offices visit

What will you be doing and who will you be interacting with?

It is important to ensure that you do not accidentally export restricted information or provide any type of assistance or benefit to a sanctioned or blocked entity. The following are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your travel activities:

When presenting data/information in an international setting (including in the U.S. where the audience may include foreign nationals), you need to ensure that you limit your presentation to only information or data that is published, or is publicly available, or that qualifies as Fundamental Research. Be careful not to include or discuss any proprietary, unpublished, or export-restricted data or information as that may constitute an unauthorized export.

Interactions with Foreign Colleagues
Published or publicly available information or information generated as the result of Fundamental Research can be discussed openly as long as the recipient is not a sanctioned or specially designated entity, or an individual from such entity. 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. For more information see Collaborations with International Colleagues.

Field Work
Any university research activity done outside the U.S. may not qualify for the Fundamental Research Exclusion. Before disclosing or sharing information or data resulting from international field work it is important to ensure that the information is not export restricted.

In addition, please contact us as soon as possible if any of the following factors are involved with your research:

  • Taking equipment other than items listed in the ECCN chart;
  • Providing payments of any kind to a foreign person, university or organization;
  • Purchasing or obtaining items or materials from international sources;
  • Planning to bring back samples;
  • Sending equipment, materials, or information from the U.S. to a foreign destination; or
  • Potential or existing non-disclosure agreements or restrictions on the publication of research results.

Provision of Financial Assistance
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 us for help with screening payees and verifying any international financial transaction(s).

Compliance with export control regulations is an individual responsibility. To help ensure smooth international travel and compliance, contact the University’s Export Control office at as soon as possible if you have questions or concerns about export controls as they may apply to your travel plans.

What are you taking with you?

Research Data & Information
You are free to take and openly discuss any data or information that is published, in the public domain, is normally taught as part of a catalog course at OSU, or that resulted from Fundamental Research. However, you cannot take or share data or information that is in any way export-restricted, such as information about export-controlled technologies, proprietary information, or the results of a project not protected under the Fundamental Research Exclusion. Sharing these types of information may constitute an unauthorized export. All controlled or restricted data and information should be completely removed from laptops, phones, PDAs, or other portable storage devices (e.g., flash drives) before you leave the U.S.

Items & Equipment
Taking certain items abroad (including scientific equipment, laptops, encryption software, cell phones, tablets, flash drives, cameras, and GPS units), should be verified that the items are not export restricted based on your travel destination(s). When transiting between countries you may be asked to provide an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) for each item you take.

If you are traveling with items to one of the “comprehensively sanctioned” countries of Cuba, Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea, or providing access to your items to a citizen of one of those countries, an export license will most likely be required. Contact us in advance for help in determining your export license requirements.

Refer to the chart below for the ECCNs for equipment most commonly taken abroad.

Most commercially available basic software (such as Microsoft Office) is EAR99 and can be exported either individually or on your device without a license. However, proprietary software, software that includes encryption, and/or other complex software may require an export license and should be reviewed by the Export Control Office. Please contact us if your device includes any such software.

ECCNs for Common Travel Items*

*Do NOT use this chart for travel to Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria or North Korea

Dell Laptop (no encryption) 4A994 No Licensed Required (NLR)
Mac Laptop 5A992 No Licensed Required (NLR)
IPhones & IPads 5A992 No Licensed Required (NLR)
Jump/Flash Drive (most) 3A991 No Licensed Required (NLR)
Android Cell Phone/Tablets 5A992 No Licensed Required (NLR)
Garmin GPS 7A994 No Licensed Required (NLR)
Bitlocker Encryption 5D992 No Licensed Required (NLR)
GoPro Camera EAR99 No Licensed Required (NLR)

Additional Travel Suggestions from the FBI

Prior to Departure

  1. You may also want to listen to the Department of State recorded messages at 202-647-5225, or look for updated information at the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs.
  2. Carefully complete your Visa application, as it will be scrutinized. If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen returning to the country of your origin, your citizenship may be questioned.
  3. Ensure that items you carry with you are not controversial or prohibited. Political material or anything that could be considered pornographic should not be carried. If you carry prescription drugs with you, be certain that they are clearly marked and bring only necessary quantities.
  4. Carrying letters, packages or gifts to individuals in other countries should be avoided. You may be viewed as a courier attempting to bring the material for subversive or illegal purposes.
  5. DO NOT TAKE CONTROLLED MATERIAL with you as you travel.
  6. Limit the amount of identification that you take. If you have several forms of Government ID (i.e. University ID, building pass), bring only one ID with you (or the minimum required for entry and exit). Make a photocopy of any ID or credit card you will be bringing and leave the copy at home. Write down your passport number and keep it separate from your passport. Do the same with your address and telephone.
  7. The carrying of laptop computers is discouraged, but not prohibited. Consult your sponsor’s contracting officer before you take your laptop or similar computing equipment.

Upon Arrival

  1. An accurate declaration of all money and valuables should be made at entry. Some countries give the traveler a copy of the declaration, which must be surrendered upon leaving. It is important to keep receipts of all money exchanges, these frequently are required upon departure. Undeclared sums of U.S. or other currency are likely to cause difficulty with authorities and may be confiscated upon departure.
  2. Declare such items as cameras, radios, etc., to preclude possible explanations, customs charges, or confiscation when you leave.
  3. In some cases, especially non-westernized countries like Cuba, Syria, N. Korea, etc. you should contact the American Embassy or Consulate prior to your arrival, and provide your local address and the probable length of your visit.
  4. Use of public transportation is recommended rather than driving yourself, because involvement in traffic accidents can be problematic. Taxis are the preferred mode of transportation. State Department travel advisories provide updated information regarding public transportation concerns in the country you are visiting.

Your Activities and Behavior

  1. In all of your activities, show discretion and common sense. MAINTAIN A LOW PROFILE. Refrain from any behavior that may make you conspicuous or a potential target. NEVER engage in any illegal activity, excessive drinking or gambling. Use your best judgment to carefully avoid any situation that may allow a foreign intelligence agency the opportunity to coerce or blackmail you.
  2. Do not discuss controlled or sensitive information in any vehicle, restaurant, hotel room, hotel lobby, or other public place. In any public place, your conversation may be overheard, or you may be monitored. If you need to call the U.S. to discuss controlled or sensitive information, locate a secure telephone by contacting the in-country FBI office or the U.S. Embassy.
  3. If you locate any possible surveillance equipment, such as microphones, telephone taps, miniature recording devices, or cameras, do not try to neutralize or dismantle it. Assume the device is operable and that active monitoring is ongoing. Report what you have found to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. When you return, advise your local FBI agent.
  4. Never leave luggage or briefcases that contain controlled or sensitive information unattended (whether in the US or US Territory or not). This includes leaving your briefcase in your hotel room. We encourage you to keep your briefcase containing sensitive information in your immediate possession at all times.
  5. Foreign Intelligence Services may place you under physical surveillance or you may suspect that you are being watched. It is better to ignore the surveillance than attempt to lose or evade it. In any event your actions should be prudent and not likely to generate suspicion. Good precautionary measures are to use well-traveled highways and avoid establishing routine schedules.
  6. Never try to photograph military personnel, installations, or other “restricted areas”. It is best to also refrain from photographing police installations, industrial structures, transportation facilities and boarder areas.
  7. Beware of overly friendly or solicitous people that you meet. Do not establish personal or intimate relationships with these individuals as they may be employed by the intelligence service. Do not share any work related information with any person who does not have a need to know.
  8. Do not accept packages and agree to transport them back to the U.S. Even if your friends, relatives, and professional contacts, make the request, do not accept the package.
  9. If you will be on an extended visit and expect to be writing or receiving mail, remember that it may be subjected to censorship. Never make references to any controlled or sensitive information.
  10. Avoid any areas where there is political or ethnic unrest, demonstrations or protests.
  11. Should you be detained or arrested for any reason by the police or other officials, be cooperative, and contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately. Do not make any statements or sign any documents you do not fully understand until you have conferred with an Embassy representative.
  12. Do not leave documents in hotel safes.
  13. You may keep this travel briefing document for reference, but do not carry it with you.

Upon Your Return

Contact your local FBI agent to report suspicious foreign contacts and any unusual incidents. If you have a security clearance through a third party, you may need to receive a security debriefing if you have been abroad for more than a certain number of days that is established by the third-party security office. You are required to report all contacts with individuals of any nationality, either within or outside the scope of your official activities in which:

  • Illegal or unauthorized access is sought to controlled or sensitive information
  • you are concerned that you may be the target of an actual or attempted exploitation by a foreign entity.