Laptop Inspections and Seizure

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can inspect, and confiscate, electronic devices such as laptops, cell phones, PDAs, and storage devices. You may not get your property back immediately; in fact in some cases it has taken months to return the device to the owner. Depending on the country you are visiting, you may be subject to inspection and seizure from other security, customs, or border protection agents. In addition, laptops and other portable electronic devices are often stolen, damaged, or lost during travel.

Thus, be sure to:

  • back up ALL data from such devices prior to travelling
  • take ONLY the essential data you need for the trip
  • take an older device that you don't care so much about, in case you are compelled to surrender it

For more information, see: Laptop Inspections Legal, Rare, Essential. from U.S. CBP.

Export Control

Do you plan to travel abroad and take your university issued laptop computer, digital storage device, or any encryption products with you?

The Export Control Office in the Office of Research Administration can help you determine if your university-issued electronic components require a license prior to international travel, can provide tips for international travel with information stored on electronic components, and can provide a list of sanctioned and restricted parties and entities with whom IU is prohibited by federal law from doing business with.

Contact them at

  • Visit IU Travel Management Services
  • Travel safety tips from the FBI
  • Read the PSIA Blog