Shipping Abroad

Shipping Abroad Questions?

Find out how export regulations impact specific international shipments, by contacting the Associate University Compliance and Privacy Officer, at 216.368.0833, or email

International Shipping Guidelines

The shipment of a tangible (e.g. equipment, materials, software, etc.) and intangible (e.g. training, know-how, data, etc.) item to a destination outside of the United States is considered an export, regardless of whether the item is sold, used for research, loaned, donated, or outside of the U.S. only temporarily.

All international shipping must comply with export control laws and regulations, including the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”). Before shipping a device, materials, or other items abroad, a CWRU employee trained in export compliance must determine whether an export license, or any other form of federal authorization, is needed prior to making the shipment.

Before exporting an item, you should consider:

  • What is the item, product, or information? Is it subject to the EAR or ITAR?
    • Most items and technologies are controlled to some degree, and the degree of control varies per item. Contact Export Control for a review and classification of the item(s) you are shipping.
  • Where is the item going? Is the destination country embargoed or sanctioned?
    • Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria are subject to strict import and export license requirements. If you work with a collaborator in or will be sending or receiving items from one of these countries, contact Export Control.
  • Who is the end user? Is the end user a restricted party?
    • The U.S. government maintains lists of individuals and entities that U.S. organizations are prohibited from collaborating with or shipping to—known as “restricted parties.” Contact University Compliance for a screening of the end user.
  • What is the intended end use? Is that end use prohibited?
    • Any end use that has a military or space application or that is contrary to national security will require a review by University Compliance.

These are the steps that all CWRU researchers should follow when planning to make an outgoing international shipment of items or materials:

  1. The CWRU Principal Investigator works with the CWRU Technology Transfer Office to get a Material Transfer Agreement ("MTA") in place between CWRU and the overseas organization to receive the items or materials. The CWRU PI initiates this by submitting a completed MTA Review Form found here.
  2. Once the MTA is completed and signed by CWRU and the recipient organization, the Technology Transfer Office will forward a copy of the final contract to the PI. The PI should keep a copy of the final MTA for easy reference. Note that MTAs not only help to ensure compliance with the federal export laws, but they also protect investigators' intellectual property rights.
  3. The PI should contact the CWRU Environmental Health and Safety Office before making the overseas shipment. This step is necessary so that EHS can analyze the contents of the shipment in light of the export regulations and determine whether the shipment can proceed immediately, or whether federal pre-authorization is needed. The PI should provide EHS with a copy of the signed MTA so that EHS can match the requested shipment with the formal contract.

Failure to comply with the relevant laws and regulations may result in the confiscation of the shipped items, fines, and/or jail time. All international shipments must be reviewed prior to shipment to ensure that a license is not required and that items are not being exported to a denied or restricted entity or individual.