Guidance for faculty, students and staff on taking laptops, tablets mobile phones, and other similar electronic devices when traveling temporarily outside the United States
Columbia faculty, staff and students frequently bring their laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and other similar electronic devices while travelling overseas. Although routine, taking these devices to international destinations constitutes an “export” under U.S. export control laws. In addition, software, data and information loaded onto these devices might be subject to export restrictions.
In most cases, you can bring your laptop and other electronic devices to another country on routine travel without seeking an export license. But conditions and limitations do apply. This general guidance should help you recognize when to seek expert assistance before travelling abroad with electronic devices.
NOTE: Special rules apply to travel and other transactions related to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, the Republic of the Sudan (aka “North Sudan”) or Syria. Before undertaking travel or activities related to these countries, contact the Columbia offices whose links appear at the end of the guidance.
For details, refer to the Guidelines on Export Controls for Columbia International Travelers
Columbia travelers should also know that in some countries, custom officials may examine information contained in devices or even seize devices. For that reason, Columbia faculty, students and staff should consider carefully which devices and information they wish to bring with them on international trips. You can consult with your department's IT personnel about tools to scan your system and find sensitive data so that it can be removed in advance of your trip.
As an additional precaution, consider creating a full backup of your data before you go. See details on the CUIT Backing-up page.