As part of its work producing international trade and investment statistics, BEA collects company-specific data that must be kept confidential by law. Outside researchers can apply to use BEA's company data for their statistical research, under strict guidelines. Those who are approved take an oath to safeguard the data as special sworn research consultants of BEA.

What Data Are Available?

BEA collects company data about foreign direct investment, the activities of multinational enterprises, and international trade in services. Our mandatory surveys are conducted under the International Investment and Trade in Services Survey Act.

Learn more about BEA's surveys and how we use the data:

Why Are Outside Researchers Granted Access?

BEA's mission is to promote a better understanding of the U.S. economy through data. While committed to protecting the confidentiality of our survey respondents, we recognize a public interest in research using the company-level data we collect.

BEA grants access to outside researchers only for analytical or statistical projects that would advance scientific knowledge and further BEA's mission.

See Research Using Company-Level Data for papers completed through this program.

Who Can Apply to Be a Sworn Researcher?

Researchers must be:

  • U.S. citizens.
  • Not engaged in tax collection, regulatory enforcement, or policymaking.

How Are Data Accessed?

BEA's company-specific data can only be accessed at a secure site. Authorized researchers choose from two options:

Work on-site at BEA's headquarters in Suitland, Md.

No fee charged for working on-site at BEA.

Security clearance required.

Work at one of 30 Federal Statistical Research Data Centers.

Fees charged for using a federal research center.

Both BEA's and the data center's security clearances required.

Whether you work at our headquarters or at a data center, BEA will:

  • Ensure that you have completed BEA data security requirements.
  • Facilitate review of your proposal.
  • Facilitate annual review of your approved project.
  • Work with you to review your output for disclosure risk.

How Do I Propose a Project?

As a result of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, the federal statistical system is currently developing a standard application process (SAP) for applying for access to confidential data assets, including BEA company-specific data.

  • The SAP Portal data catalog streamlines data discovery with detailed information about restricted-use data from BEA and other federal statistical agencies that are available to researchers.
  • The SAP standardizes the application forms, determination criteria, and review time frames across agencies when applying for access to federal restricted-use data.
  • Researchers can submit applications for access to BEA restricted-use data though the SAP after its launch, which is expected in late 2022.
  • Until the SAP begins accepting applications, researchers interested in proposing a project using BEA restricted-use datasets should reach out to on how to proceed.

How Do I Arrange to Use a Data Center?

If you are considering doing research at one of the research data centers, you should contact that specific location's administrator to discuss access requirements and the center's fees.

When you work at one of these data centers, the administrator facilitates the transfer of BEA data to the project space and transfers your output to BEA for review. The administrator answers logistical questions about using the data and assists with any technical problems.

If you are also seeking to access restricted data from other federal agencies at the data center, you will need to have your proposal approved by each federal partner.

More to know:

  • To access BEA's data at a research data center, you will need to receive Special Sworn Status from the Census Bureau, which manages the centers. This additional clearance may add several months to the application process after your project has been approved by BEA.
  • BEA charges a flat fee for each year of research data center access to help offset our costs of participating in the network. The fee is assessed by project and can be shared by team members. 
  • Other agencies may charge additional fees if you're using their data.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)