Export compliance laws and trade sanctions
The Export Compliance Program provides institution wide export compliance support for VCU. The university has an official policy, Export Compliance and Research Security, that recognizes the need for export compliance at VCU and establishes basic guidelines for compliance at VCU. This webpage provides additional guidance and contains general information on export regulations. This page also contains information on VCU’s established compliance and risk mitigation procedures established by the Export Compliance Program.
VCU complies with all export control laws and regulations, and does not participate in foreign corrupt practices.
Please refer to VCU's export compliance manual for useful information on all aspects of VCU's Export Compliance Program.
What are export control regulations?
U.S. export control laws govern the transfer of controlled information, items, and technologies to foreign countries and foreign persons for national security purposes. The regulations also seek to further U.S. foreign policy through the administration of trade/economic sanctions. Export control regulations can control everything from technology and data to economic transactions and business partnerships
How can an export occur?
- Physically sending export controlled items to a foreign country
- Transmitting export controlled information or software electronically or digitally to a foreign country or foreign person
- Use of export controlled technology on behalf or for the benefit of a foreign person or foreign country
- Deemed export - Disclosure or transfer of export controlled items [including technology and information] to a foreign entity or individual within the U.S. is deemed to be an export to the home country of the foreign person
- May occur by such means as:
- Tours of laboratories
- Involvement of foreign persons in the research
- Oral exchanges, emails or visual inspection
- Hosting a foreign researcher
Who can have access to export controlled technology/information?
U.S. persons may have unrestricted access, for the purpose of export control regulations, to export controlled technology/information.
A U.S. person is a U.S. citizen, “green card” holder, asylee or refugee designations, incorporated to do business in the U.S.
A foreign person may not be able to have access to export controlled technology or information. VCU’s Export Compliance Program should be consulted before granting access or sharing export controlled technology or data with a foreign national or foreign entity.
A foreign person is any U.S. person effectively owned or controlled by a foreign interest, foreign businesses not incorporated in the U.S., or individuals holding a work or student visa (F1, J1, H1B)
Additional forms and information:
Is my work controlled decision tree
This decision tree is designed to help you decide whether your research is subject to export controls and requires further review.
This tool asks you specific questions about your research to help you decide if you should contact the Export Compliance Program for further guidance.
Export control red flags
This is a list of events or circumstances that should cause you to think twice about export control issues and contact the Export Compliance Program for more information.
EAR license decision tree
If an item is export controlled that is not the end of the road. This chart shows the steps necessary to decide if you need to seek a specific license from the Commerce Department for the export of your technology or information.
Shipping to destinations outside the U.S.
International shipping is also subject to numerous export and import controls and regulations. Fines, confiscation or incarceration can all result from failing to comply. VCU’s Business Services office as well as all standard carriers (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.) require completed paperwork prior to accepting a package for shipment internationally. VCU is the shipper of record — not the shipping agent or the customs broker — no matter who fills out the forms.
It’s important to understand that everything that crosses the border is an export, even if the item is abroad only temporarily or if it will be used for research.
Most hardware as well as some software and information are export-controlled to some degree. Some entities, people and uses are restricted — approval must be obtained prior to shipping any item or information.
Hazardous materials need to be packaged and labeled appropriately:
- Biological tissues
- Batteries and fuel cells
- Radioactive materials
International shipping export checklist
This is a step by step guide to shipping items internationally
International shipping import checklist
This is a step by step guide to receiving international items
Correct shipping documentation
This contains information on how to correctly label and classify your international shipments
VCU has expanded its international collaborations more than ever. This is an exciting time for the university and is an endeavor for which the Export Compliance Program seeks to provide full support. While there are many benefits to international collaborations the agreements that outline those collaborations must comply with U.S. government regulations.
The U.S. government has created a list of individuals and entities that have been designated as conducting activities that are contrary to U.S. national security and foreign policy. The Export Compliance Program provides support in determining if any potential business partners or collaborators are on that list and will identify the specific restrictions associated with those entities.
The university is also prohibited from supporting unsanctioned boycotts of other countries. All international agreements should be reviewed for compliance with the U.S. anti-boycott regulations.
To aid university personnel in identifying and conducting these reviews the Export Compliance Program has created an “International Agreements Pre-screening form” to be completed by the individuals negotiating these agreements. This form asks for biographical information on the parties to the agreement and some information on the type of relationship being formed under the agreement. This information will greatly aid in a quick and accurate determination by the Export Compliance Program.
International agreements pre-screening form
This form will provide the Export Compliance Program with the information needed to efficiently screen international agreements for export compliance issues
U.S. anti-boycott regulations
The university cannot agree to participate in foreign country boycotts not sanctioned by the U.S. government. This document provides guidance on potential prohibited provisions in international agreements
Dual Use Research of Concern is life sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products or technologies that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat, with broad potential consequences, to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, or national security.
The U.S. government has published several policies relevant to Dual Use Research of Concern, with the intention of raising awareness and limiting the potential for misuse of scientific information derived from life sciences research.
Research with one or more of the fifteen DURC agents and/or toxins currently listed in the U.S. government DURC Policy and which produces, aims to produce or can be reasonably anticipated to produce one or more of the 7 experimental effects of concern listed in the policy must be evaluated by the VCU Institutional Review Entity (IRE) for its DURC potential.
PIs must notify Susan Robb, the Institutional Contact for Dual Use Research, that they are using DURC agents. See PI Responsibilities below. Review and oversight of DURC are outlined in the VCU policy on DURC.
Procedure for DURC research
The Institutional Review Entity (IRE) will conduct a review of the research and make a determination. If the IRE determines the research meets the definition of DURC, it will promptly notify the PI, and, within 30 calendar days, will also notify the applicable U.S. funding agency. The IRE, PI and U.S. funding agency will work together to develop a risk mitigation plan. This process is outlined in detail in the VCU policy on DURC. Upon approval of the draft plan by the U.S. funding agency, the IRE will present the final risk mitigation plan to the PI, and the Institutional Contact for Dual Use Research (ICDUR) will collaborate with the PI to ensure its implementation.
For research determined to be DURC, the IRE shall review, at least annually, all active Risk Mitigation Plans at the university. The IRE, working with the PI, shall modify the applicable risk mitigation plan as needed to ensure that the plan still adequately mitigates the risks associated with the DURC.
DURC: PI responsibilities
Principal Investigators (PIs) are responsible for assessing whether their research is DURC, reporting this assessment to the VCU DURC Institutional Review Entity (IRE), and, if applicable, implementing a risk mitigation plan.
Before commencing research with DURC Agents, the PI must first determine whether any of the following apply:
- The research directly involves non-attenuated forms of one or more of the potential DURC agents
- The research with non-attenuated forms of one or more of the potential DURC agents also produces, aims to produce or can reasonably be anticipated to produce one or more experimental effects of concern
- The PI concludes that his/her research may meet the definition of DURC. If research is determined not to meet the DURC criteria, it is the responsibility of the PI to monitor his other research on an ongoing basis and notify the Institutional Review Entity (IRE) if anything changes that may alter the initial IRE determination.
The PI’s assessment regarding the above should be summarized in writing. This summary shall be registered and retained with the VCU DURC Institutional Review Entity (IRE).
The PI will provide the Institutional Contact for Dual Use Research (ICDUR) with documentation in accordance with local campus policies and procedures, indicating the reasons for concluding that his/her research involves, or does not involve potential DURC, along with sufficient data to permit the IRE to complete the review required.
Implement risk mitigation
If the IRE determines that the proposed research is DURC, the PI will be expected to:
- Collaborate with the IRE to develop the risk mitigation plan
- Conduct DURC in accordance with the final risk mitigation plan
- Notify the ICDUR of any substantive change in the on-going conduct of the DURC
- Notify the ICDUR if for whatever reason (e.g., changes in the research, new discoveries), he/she feels that the research should no longer be considered DURC
- Ensure that laboratory personnel (i.e., those under the supervision of laboratory leadership, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research technicians, laboratory staff and visiting scientists) conducting research with one of more of DURC agents have received appropriate education and training on DURC
- Be knowledgeable about and comply with all UC and federal policies and requirements for oversight of DURC
- Communicate about the DURC in a responsible manner and in compliance with the approved risk mitigation plan
DURC and sub-awards
Federal DURC policy requires that where elements of a potential DURC project are carried out at multiple institutions through a sub-award with a primary institution that directly receives the grant or contract from the U.S. funding agency, (the “prime institution”), the prime institution will be responsible for notifying the applicable U.S. funding agency of research that may constitute DURC and if such research is determined to be DURC, providing copies of each institution’s risk mitigation plan. The Prime Institution should also ensure that DURC oversight is consistently applied by all entities participating in the collaboration. If the prime institution’s procedures or standards are less rigorous than the sub-awardee’s, the more rigorous standard will be applied.
DURC: additional resources and sub-awards
Additional resources related to Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC):
- Federal government DURC policy and guidance
- United States Government Policy for Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern (March 2012)
- United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Dual Use Research of Concern (September 2014)
- FAQs on USG Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern
- National Institutes of Health – Office of Science Policy: Dual Use Research of Concern
- Tools for the Identification, Assessment, Management, and Responsible Communication of Dual Use Research of Concern: A Companion Guide to the United States Government Policies for Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern
- Training Slide Set: Training on the USG Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern
The Export Compliance Program tracks and provides advice for international travels several different ways:
High Risk Travel: For international travel to certain countries deemed “high risk” by the U.S. government, the Export Compliance Program has established an approval stop in Chrome River for any pre-approvals entered for travel to those countries. Export Compliance Program will reach out to the individual traveling and ask for:
- The entities/institutions they will be working with while abroad
- Background information on the reason for the travel
Export Compliance Program does this to conduct background screenings on entities VCU plans to work with and to provide the traveler with export compliance guidance that fits their specific needs.
Other International Travel: Export Compliance Program tracks all other international travel through Christopherson Business Travel and highly recommends that individuals use Christopherson for all travel including travel that is not reimbursed by the university.
ECO, in conjunction with VCU Technology Services, is currently piloting a “travel laptop program.” To request a travel laptop, contact the Export Compliance Program. During the piloting stage priority will be given to travelers going to higher risk countries.
If you plan to travel to Cuba, Iran, Sudan, North Korea or Sudan, contact the Export Compliance Program in advance of your travel.
If you plan to travel to any destination with research data or technology other than a standard VCU laptop, contact the Export Compliance Program in advance of your travel.
Additional information and forms
RAMS ECO system
If travelers use VCU’s Chrome Rivers system to get a pre-approval, the ECO system automatically generates and emails travelers a link to a smart form for their trip.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
This guidance details some of the requirements of the FCPA. The FCPA applies for any international travel.
TMP exception form
This form is not required but should be used if the traveler is exporting a piece of VCU technology under the “Tools of the Trade” exception.
The Export Compliance Program offers one-on-one travel training. Please email the export compliance manager at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.
VCU is required by federal regulations to monitor assignments to its facilities of foreign persons to ensure that the disclosure of, and access to, export controlled articles and related information are limited to those approved by an export authorization. All international employees and visitors must be processed through the Global Education Office (GEO). An export control review will be performed on all foreign persons regardless of employee or visitor status.
Please review the “Do Export Control Regulations Apply to Me?” page on this website for information on “Deemed Exports,” which is a high risk area for the university.
Additional information and forms
RAMS ECO system
If you plan to hire an employee who is not a citizen of the U.S. (needs an H-1B or J Visa) or if you plan to invite an international visitor, or if you plan to have another researcher conduct research in your lab (Visiting Scholar) you must login to the RAMS ECO system and complete a Visa review smart form.
Visiting nonemployee scholar agreement
The VSA is designed to establish a legal relationship with an individual that otherwise would not have on with the University. The agreement informs the visiting scholar of their responsibilities while at VCU and requires they be bound by VCU Policies. This agreement should be completed and signed by any Visiting Scholar (individual working in a lab at VCU that is from another institution and is not being paid by VCU).
RAMS ECO system [which requires a VCUeID login] is a supplemental system to Chrome River and Christopherson. It will import relevant travel information you have entered into those systems and will automatically notify you by email if you need to log into RAMS ECO and complete any additional questions.
In addition, individuals requesting visa reviews can use RAMS ECO at any time to request an Export Compliance Review. Once you receive confirmation that the review is complete, you should include that information with your normal documentation to VCU’s Global Education Office.