Appropriate Safeguards For Cross-Border Data Transfer Under GDPR

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appropriate safeguards for cross border data transfer under gdpr

With the increasing trend of globalization and technological advancements, transferring data across international borders has become a common practice in many businesses.

However, with this global shift comes the need to understand and comply with various compliance frameworks like the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) put forth by EU lawmakers.

This article delves into the various safeguards that organizations need to put in place for cross border data transfer under GDPR.

Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Cross-border data transfer refers to the movement of data between countries. With the expansion of businesses, this has become a common practice. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides guidelines and GDPR solutions to ensure the security of this data throughout its journey.
  • Businesses of all types, from large corporations to small enterprises, engage in cross-border data transfers. For them, understanding and complying with GDPR is not about meeting requirements but about building trust with their customers and partners.
  • To ensure GDPR compliance during data transfers, businesses can make use of safeguards such as Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs). It is crucial for businesses to be aware of these mechanisms and implement them effectively.

What is a Cross Border Data Transfer?

Cross-border data transfer involves the movement of data from one country to another. Let’s imagine a situation where an EU company is sending customer information to a business partner in the US. This example perfectly highlights how data crosses borders, emphasizing the interconnectedness of our society.

Why is this concept so important? Well, from a business standpoint, data transfers are often a part of operations. However, when it comes to handling data, certain precautions must be taken to protect consumers.

This is where the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its associated GDPR rights come into play. The main aim of GDPR is to ensure the security and protection of data throughout its journey.

According to GDPR’s definition, cross border data transfer refers to “the transfer of data to a country or international business.” This means whenever personal information leaves the boundaries of the European Union, it falls under the category of border transfer.

What Type of Business Needs to Do Cross-Border Data Transfers?

Many businesses find themselves needing to transfer personal data across borders. But which businesses are most likely to do this? Let’s break it down.

First, there are multinational businesses. These big players have offices, partners, or consumers in multiple countries. Think of a business headquartered in Germany but with branches in Brazil, India, and Canada.

To run smoothly, they often need to share personal data between these locations. For these businesses, cross-border data transfers are a necessity.

Next, consider online service providers. Whether it’s a streaming platform, an e-commerce site, or a cloud storage solution, these businesses cater to a global audience. A consumer in Spain might sign up for a service based in Japan. When that happens, personal data might cross borders to ensure the service is delivered seamlessly.

Lastly, even smaller businesses can find themselves in the cross-border data transfer game. Maybe they outsource certain tasks, including outsourcing compliance, customer support, or IT services, to businesses in other countries.

Or perhaps they use tools and platforms that store data in international servers. In these cases, they’re involved in cross-border data transfers.

For all these businesses, understanding GDPR principles and ensuring corporate compliance with GDPR becomes essential. After all, data protection isn’t just about following rules. It’s about earning and keeping the trust of consumers and partners.

What Are the Appropriate Safeguards for Cross-Border Data Transfer Under GDPR?

What measures should businesses take to ensure the transfer of data across borders in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

According to this regulation, when transferring data to countries outside of the European Union (EU), it is crucial to maintain a level of data protection. In cases where an adequacy decision cannot be reached, businesses must rely on safeguards to guarantee the safety and security of data during these transfers.

Standard Contracts (SCCs)

One option for ensuring GDPR compliance is through the implementation of Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs). These pre-approved clauses by the European Commission provide a framework that both the data exporter and importer can utilize. SCCs establish guidelines for transferring data to countries outside of the EU.

The European Commission has approved two sets of SCCs; one specifically designed for transfers between controllers and another tailored for transfers between controllers and processors.

Business Corporate Rules (BCRs)

Another approach is through Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs), which are regulations adopted by multinational businesses. BCRs enable group international data transfers while ensuring consistent levels of data protection across all members of the group regardless of their geographical locations. It’s important that BCRs receive approval from authorities.

By implementing these safeguards, businesses can navigate border data transfers under GDPR while maintaining a high level of security and compliance with privacy regulations.

Binding agreements or treaties can be used for border data transfers between public authorities.

This means that if a public authority in the EU wants to transfer data to an authority in another country, they need to have a binding agreement in place.

Code of Conduct

Associations and other businesses representing controllers or processors can create codes of conduct. These codes specify how the GDPR is applied, and cross-border data transfers can happen based on these approved codes of conduct.

Certification Mechanisms

Cross-border data transfers can also be facilitated through data protection certification mechanisms. These certifications are issued by the government and are valid for a maximum of three years, with the option to renew them thereafter.

Additional Approaches for Transferring Data Across Borders in Compliance with GDPR

The practice of transferring data across borders is widespread. When it involves data, businesses must exercise caution. GDPR provides guidelines on how to ensure the transfer of individuals’ data regardless of its destination.

Therefore, businesses dealing with data from regions like Europe must familiarize themselves with these regulations. Let’s explore some methods for transferring data under the framework of GDPR.

Adequacy Decision

An “Adequacy Decision” acts as an endorsement from the European Union, indicating that a non-EU country has data protection regulations in place. When a country receives this decision, data transfer between it and the EU becomes smoother.

Currently, there exists a list containing countries that have obtained this endorsement. Some examples include Canada, New Zealand, and Japan. To check if a particular country is on this list, refer to the compilation of approved countries here.


In situations where conventional methods (safeguards and adequacy decisions) for transferring data are not viable, “derogations” come into play. They serve as justifications for moving data when other approaches are not feasible.

Here are some examples:

  • Explicit Consent: This situation occurs when someone clearly gives their consent by saying, “Yes, you may transfer my data.” They have an understanding of the reasons behind the data transfer and willingly agree to it.
  • Vital Interest: In situations where someone’s life is in danger, this applies. For example, if someone is undergoing treatment in another country. There is a need to exchange their medical information.
  • Fulfilling a Contract: When someone buys something from a country, they might have to share their information to finalize the transaction.
  • Public Interest: Sometimes, it becomes essential to share data for the betterment of society. This may occur in situations where various countries work together on health-related issues.

Requirements of Privacy Notice

According to GDPR, when a business intends to transfer data to another country, it must inform the individuals whose data is being transferred. This notification must be provided at the time of data collection. The business must disclose the following details:

  1. They must inform whether an authoritative body known as the Commission has issued an “adequacy decision” for that country. An adequacy decision indicates that the country in question has regulations to safeguard data.
  2. In cases where no adequacy decision exists, businesses are obligated to implement security measures. They must inform individuals about these measures. Provide information on how they can access or obtain details regarding these safeguards.

It’s important for businesses not only to comply with GDPR rules but also to maintain transparency with individuals regarding their data protection practices and procedures.

This contributes to establishing trust and ensures the protection of everyone’s data.


Navigating the world of data transfers can sometimes feel like solving a puzzle. Don’t worry, though! Captain Compliance can be your go-to manual. Together with data compliance solutions, we ensure that your data moves seamlessly across borders.

At Captain Compliance, we’re here to offer a helping hand. Our compliance solutions will help your business focus on business while we focus on compliance.

The best part? You’ll gain the trust of both your consumers and partners. So why wait? Get in touch with us today. Let’s make data protection effortless and enjoyable!


How does GDPR affect cross-border data transfers?

The GDPR imposes regulations on data transfers outside of the European Union. It is crucial for businesses to verify that the destination country has measures in place to protect and secure data.

Unsure about your data transfer practices? Check out this guide on cross border data transfers.

What are Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs)?

Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) are binding agreements that ensure both the sender and recipient of data comply with the standards set by the GDPR when transferring data outside of the EU. These clauses are one of the measures recommended by the European Commission to safeguard data privacy.

For assistance with SCCs, contact Captain Compliance now!

Are small businesses exempt from GDPR?

No, regardless of their size, all businesses that handle information from individuals within the European Union are subject to GDPR regulations. Even if a business is located outside of the EU, it must still comply with GDPR requirements if it processes data belonging to EU citizens.

Business owners! Check out our guides for more information

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