Control of knowledge transfer

Content in progress - se Norwegian page for updated version from 24th April 2023

This page provides information on Norwegian export control, what NTNU is responsible for, and what is regarded as sensitive knowledge.

Norsk versjon - Kontroll med kunnskapsoverføring

Topic page: Information security | The research process | Emergency planning

Export control and its purpose

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) is responsible for Norwegian export control. The aim is to ensure that strategic goods, services and technology from Norway are not exported in breach of obligations under international law or Norwegian security and defence policy. Export control also aims to prevent Norwegian goods, services and technology from contributing to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD: nuclear, chemical and biological weapons) and their means of delivery (especially ballistic missiles).

Strategic goods are defined as weapons, ammunition and other military materiel and civilian goods that may have military utility or be used in terrorist acts, as well as associated technology and services. The term technology also includes intangible technology, including knowledge. This means that the higher education sector may have so-called sensitive knowledge and technology in our disciplines and activities that are covered by these regulations.

In its annual threat assessments (in Norwegian), the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) discusses how foreign states operate to gain access to sensitive knowledge and technology.

Responsibilities of the higher education sector

Together with the Ministry of Education and Research, UD has prepared Retningslinjer for kontroll med kunnskapsoverføring (Guidelines for the control of knowledge transfer) (in Norwegian) for the higher education sector. These make it clear that we have a responsibility to assess the sensitivity of our knowledge and technology ourselves, and to ensure compliance with the export control regulations in connection with appointment of foreign persons, admission of international students to specific courses, and for other forms of knowledge transfer. NTNU must therefore ensure that any sensitive subject areas are assessed at the various departments, and that the export control regulations are followed in relevant processes and activities.

Licences, prior authorization, and work and residence permits

To comply with the regulations on sensitive knowledge and technology, we must apply for a licence or prior authorization from UD before knowledge transfer can take place for people from certain countries. In its assessments, UD considers each applicant or candidate individually. This means that a licence or prior authorization cannot be refused based on nationality alone. Assessments are needed for recruitment of academic staff, hosting of visiting researchers and admission to some courses at master’s level.

UD uses four groups of countries in connection with export control, which are listed here: Licence types and country groups - (in Norwegian)

The UN Security Council can adopt sanctions against states, persons or entities, which Norway is obliged to implement under international law. UD lists the sanctions and measures in effect here: Sanctions and measures -

Applications for licences and prior authorization must be submitted via UD’s E-lisens portal for electronic applications for licences (in Norwegian). The Ministry’s section for export control processes the applications. The E-lisens portal can also be used to submit general enquiries related to export control.

See the E-lisens information page from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Norwegian).

Note that for persons with Iranian citizenship or Iranian connections, licence or prior authorization must always be applied for in order to able to use equipment, technology or knowledge that is listed in the annexes to “Iranforskriften” (in Norwegian). This is an extension of the export control regulations.

Read more about exports to Iran at (in Norwegian).

NB: The Directorate of Immigration (UDI) is responsible for processing applications from foreigners who want to visit or live in Norway. Approval of work and residence permits is governed by other legislation and is not part of the scope of the export control regulations. This means that a foreign person may be granted a work permit and residence permit based on a signed employment contract with NTNU or on a letter of invitation, but that UD may refuse a license or prior authorization that may be necessary to carry out work.

It is therefore very important that any license or prior authorization is granted before an employment contract is signed. Therefore, make sure to contact the person responsible for export control procedures as early as possible if a candidate is from a so-called country of concern, so that this does not delay the process. To avoid making commitments under employment law that cannot be met, the following wording can be included in employment contracts that are signed, before UD has processed an application.

How is sensitive knowledge assessed?

Assessing the sensitivity of the various areas of knowledge and technology involves several criteria. This flowchart provides a simple introduction to the most basic assessment points (coming). The starting point is the lists (in Norwegian) of goods that are directly linked to the regulations, and appendixes that are linked to separate sanctions regulations, such as the Iran regulations.

Goods, services and technology that are covered by the export control regulations are divided into two main categories: (1) Defence-related goods, which include technology intended for military purposes. (2) Dual-use goods, which include technology that is civilian in principle, but that can also be used for military applications. The technology and the knowledge around it are described as having dual-use potential.

See the UD website for information about the lists(in Norwegian) of goods. See the form “Hvordan lese vareliste II (How to read List II)”(in Norwegian) for a brief introduction on how to how to read the lists of goods.

Even if one concludes that a particular type of knowledge or technology does not need a licence under the categories of goods, technology and services specified in List I or List II in the Export Control Regulations and does not require prior authorization related to goods specified in annexes to sanctions regulations, it is still necessary to assess whether it might be subject to a licence according to the “catch-all” provision.

See the UD website for information about the catch-all provision (in Norwegian).

For NTNU, it is mainly the dual-use items in List II that must be assessed. The annexes to the various regulations on sanctions apply to persons from sanctioned countries. In addition, assessments related to the catch-all provision are usually needed. Sensitive knowledge and dual-use items are often associated with equipment, materials and technology that may well be found in various types of laboratories. According to UD, these specified subject areas are where sensitive knowledge and technology are most likely to be found: Life sciences, including biotechnology, Biochemistry, Chemistry including chemical engineering, Physics, including nuclear physics, Aviation and aviation technology, Mechanical engineering, Materials science and engineering, Cybernetics, Medicine/veterinary science, Mathematics.

To get qualified assessments of the potential for dual use, one must involve the academic staff who know the most about the relevant subject areas and the application potential of the knowledge and technology, beyond their defined purpose. People responsible for laboratories are usually in the best position to understand the descriptions on the item lists and how to link them with the properties of the laboratory instruments. An overall assessment of whether a subject area with its knowledge and technology may be covered by the export control regulations, with the catch-all provisions, can be summarized in the form “Assessment of dual use”.

Information and research data in areas of sensitive knowledge and technology must be classified as confidential in NTNU’s classification levels (in Norwegian), and treated accordingly.

More information


NTNU’s point of contact for help

  • Central contact point at NTNU: Marie Sundstrøm, Legal Adviser, HR and HSE Division. For contributions to assessment and administrative procedures.
  • IV, IE and NV follows internal rules.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Section for Export Control

For questions related to assessing technology and knowledge, questions about export control regulations, and questions about territories, arms embargoes and E-lisens (e-licensing system for export control).

Norwegian Police Security Service (PST)

Inquiries to PST can be made via NTNU's contact point for help.

PST can be contacted if there is a need for advice and assistance within the preventive work, about the threat picture, and for major questions about possible concerns.