Travel advice

Can I take my encrypted laptop when traveling internationally?

Unless you intend to travel to Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, or Sudan, the simple answer is YES.

However, because encryption products can be used for illegal purposes, including terrorist activity, the United States and many of the countries that you may visit may ban or severely regulate the import, export and use of encryption products.  

A group of nations negotiated a set of rules attempting to facilitate traveling with encryption software known as the “Wassenaar Arrangement.” One of its provisions allows a traveler to freely enter a participating country with an encrypted device under a “personal use exemption” as long as the traveler does not create, enhance, share, sell or otherwise distribute the encryption technology while visiting.

To view the countries that support the personal use exemption – follow this link.

What if the country is not on the Wassenaar Arrangement list? 

Many nations do not recognize a “personal use exemption”. However, most commercial encryption products have been granted an “ENC/Unrestricted” license exception from the U.S. Department of Commerce. This exception allows you to transport or ship a computer that has the approved encryption product installed to any country as long as the computer remains under our effective control, EXCEPT for the countries defined in the Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria).

If you must travel to one of the five embargoed countries, you may be able to obtain the appropriate export license, but the process can take months to complete.  The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the U.S. Department of the Treasury accept applications for licenses to export encryption products and technologies.