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Traveling Abroad

Researchers commonly take their laptops with them when traveling outside the United States.  Researchers need to be aware that they are effectively exporting their laptops (and potentially the information contained therein) not only when they take their laptop abroad, but also when they allow a person in a foreign country to use their laptop or allow a foreign national access to their laptops in the United States.  The same applies to global positioning systems ("GPS").

Laptops and GPS, and their underlying software, are covered by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and, in some cases, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).  Export regulations vary based on the country to which a researcher is exporting.  A license exception (see below) may apply to the export of the laptop or GPS in question, and if so, a researcher may be able to take that equipment abroad without violating the EAR or ITAR.   

Taking Your Laptop Out of the Country

Excluding embargoed countries, researchers who wish to take their laptops out of the country to use in a W&M project that meets the Fundamental Research Exclusion may be able to do so under the license exception for temporary export (TMP) provided that the laptop  (i) meets the requirement for "tools of trade" and (ii) is under control of the researcher.

To see if you qualify for shipment under License Exemption TMP, click here.

The Technology Support Center has an inventory of laptop computers that are available for short-term loan to faculty and staff (and students, provided students are sponsored by a faculty/staff member and traveling on official W&M business).  These loaner laptops are loaded with standard software and are re-imaged upon return to remove user profiles and data.  Please call the Technology Support Center at 221-HELP to check on availability and reserve a notebook.  Further information regarding the Loaner Notebook Program can be found on the IT website.  




For a related article on this topic, click on the following link from the New York Times, Oct 24, 2006:  "At U.S. Borders, Laptops Have No Right to Privacy".