Advice for travelling abroad with your GPS

While it may seem surprising and a bit counterintuitive, the fact is that if you’re a researcher traveling abroad, international regulation regards your laptop or GPS unit as though it has been ‘exported,’ and treats it as such. This is especially true if you allow a person in a foreign country to use the laptop or GPS device, or even if you allow a foreign national access to such an electronic unit. But what does this mean exactly for foreign travel? A quick rundown….


Export Administration Regulations

Both laptops and GPS devices – as well as their underlying software – are covered by what’s called the Export Administration Regulations, or EAR. In some cases, they’re also covered by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR.

The specific export regulations will vary depending on the country traveled to, and for what purpose a researcher intends to employ the GPS device or laptop. However, there is a certain license exception that could apply to the export of the GPS device or laptop that is in question, and if this is the case, a researcher might be able to take the equipment abroad without any fear of violating the Export Administration Regulations or the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

And the License Exception Is…

An exclusion from U.S. export control regulations applies under certain circumstances. For instance, the technology and software falls under the category of Public Domain Exclusion if there is no reason to believe that the technology and software will be used to develop a weapon of mass destruction. It also applies if the underlying source code for the technology’s schematics has previously been published in one of the following media sources: books, print, and any other electronic media that is available for mass distribution to the public, public libraries and newsstands, unrestricted subscriptions, bookstores, and public patents. There are several other exceptions that also may apply, so it’s a good idea to look into this thoroughly before planning extended international travel to avoid any difficulties.

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One Response to “Advice for travelling abroad with your GPS”

  1. May 30, 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    Hello, I couldn’t find a way to contact you so I am leaving a comment. I was wondering if you might be willing to do a link exchange with me. I just started a blog about gps tracking and some of the ways it could be applied to help families or groups of individuals. Please email me if you are interested.


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