International Collaborations and Export Controls

Export Controls

International Collaborations and Export Controls

U.S. Embargoes and Sanction Programs

Generally, collaborations between university personnel and scholars at foreign institutions or organizations do not require export licenses unless they involve export controlled or restricted research, or involve scholars from sanctioned countries. 

Before engaging in international collaborations, the University needs to determine if export licenses are required and to verify that the foreign individuals and/or organizations are not blocked or sanctioned by the U.S. government. 

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is responsible for enforcing all U.S. embargoes and sanction programs. Depending on each country's embargo or sanction program, different activities may or may not be prohibited without a specific government authorization or license.

The OFAC sanction programs fall into three categories:

  • Comprehensive Sanctions. In general, under comprehensive sanctions programs, ALL interactions and activities are prohibited, including exporting to, importing from, financial transactions of any kind, and/or providing services of any kind. While essentially all interactions with comprehensively sanctioned countries are prohibited, there is an exception for informational materials that allows certain transactions to occur. See Informational Materials and Publishing Activities.
  • Limited Sanctions. Under limited sanctions programs only some activities (e.g., importation of items) are prohibited.
  • Regime or List-Based Sanctions. Regime or List-Based sanctions are targeted against specific individuals identified by the Treasury Department and referred to as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) or are targeted against specific groups of people usually associated with a governmental body or regime.

The table below outlines the countries currently under U.S. sanction along with an indication of the sanction program in place. For additional information on a specific sanction program see OFAC Sanction Program Summaries.

Cuba Burma/Myanmar Balkans/Yugoslavia
Iran Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) Belarus
Sudan Libya Congo (Democratic Republic)
  North Korea Liberia
  Russia Iraq
  Syria Zimbabwe


Informational Materials, Publishing Activities, and Educational Activities

OFAC has a few general license(s) that specifically allow for activities in support of publishing and/or marketing of informational materials and some educational activities.

The need for a license is determined on a case by case basis.

Examples when a license may be required:

1. A U.S. person attending any conference in a sanctioned country.

2. Provisioning or providing services to a person/entity who is in a sanctioned country.

3. Substantive enhancement of any information that are not fully created and in existence in the public domain.

4. Teaching services (including online programs) to people located in a sanctioned country, including, but not limited to, instruction, reviewing any work, and grading the work.

5. A license may be required if collaboration requires importing data/materials for analysis in the U.S., even if fundamental research and published, when the results will be provided to someone in sanctioned countries (e.g. characterization of material and providing the results to a researcher in a sanctioned country).

Please reach out for assistance before moving forward.


ANTI-Boycott Regulations

The EAR incorporates anti-boycott provisions which prohibit U.S. persons from participating in unsanctioned boycotts or restrictive trade practices. These laws are enforced by BIS, and more specifically by the Office of Anti-boycott Compliance (OAC). The applicable regulations are at 15 C.F.R. § 760.

The laws prohibit certain activities including:

  • Agreements to refuse or actual refusal to do business with or in Israel, or with blacklisted companies.
  • Agreements to discriminate or actual discrimination against other persons based on race, religion, sex, national origin.
  • Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about business relationships with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.
  • Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about the race, religion, sex, or national origin of another person.

There are certain, limited exceptions to this list of prohibitions. Additionally, U.S. persons asked to engage in the prohibited activities are required to report the request to BIS.

If you encounter any boycott language in a UCCS activity or contract, please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Integrity, contact Michael Sanderson via email at, or the Office of University Counsel for assistance in determining whether an exception is applicable and if reporting to BIS is required.


IRS ANTI-Boycott Items to Consider

The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) maintains a separate set of boycott rules and regulations that require annual reporting of operations in or related to boycotting countries, as well as receipt of, and action in response to, boycott requests. These laws deny some foreign tax benefits to persons who cooperate with certain boycott requests. It also requires annual reporting by UCCS of business activities in boycotting countries. The Treasury Department publishes a list of these countries in the Federal Register each quarter.

If UCCS personnel are engaging in any operations in or related to boycotting countries, report such operations to the UCCS Controller’s Office. The IRS defines “operations” broadly to include purchasing, leasing, financing, extracting, constructing, transporting, contract negotiating, site selecting, and other activities. Operations must be reported even if no boycott requests are received.

All members of the UCCS community must refuse to cooperate with a boycott and report any boycott request immediately to UCCS Legal Counsel.

Countries which may require participation or cooperation with an international boycott can be found in the Federal Reserve. (See countries below; subject to change)


 Republic of Yemen

 Saudi Arabia







  • Fines (up to $1,000,000 on individuals or companies for a criminal anti-boycott violation, or the greater of $300,000 per violation or twice the value of the underlying transaction).
  • Imprisonment (up to twenty years).
  • Denial of export privileges.
  • Denial of all or part of foreign tax benefits.


The following actions and agreements when undertaken to further an unapproved boycott would violate U.S. anti-boycott laws:

  • A collaboration with a foreign university to jointly offer an academic  program in which the agreement includes a provision to restrict participation by Israeli citizens.
  • Answering “yes” or “no” to the question, “Do you do any business in Israel?”  where the purpose of the question is to comply with an unapproved boycott.
  • A full professorship that does not permit the appointment of a Jewish person.

Comparison of U.S Department of Commerce and U.S. Treasury Anti-boycott Laws and Regulations/Guidelines can be found at


Additional International Collaborations Resource


Questions? Contact the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Integrity (OSPRI) at for assistance with export control questions before engaging in any international collaborations.