Detailed guide: Export controls: dual-use items, software and technology, goods for torture and radioactive sources

Export Control Organisation

March 3
15:10 2021


Licensing requirements for the export of certain items from Great Britain (GB) to the EU have changed.

Existing EU export control legislation was retained in UK law and applies to GB. Controlled items that currently move licence-free to the EU, such as dual-use items will require licences to move between GB and the EU.

The provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol mean that existing EU export control legislation and current licensing requirements continue to apply in Northern Ireland.

An export licence is needed to export controlled dual-use items from Northern Ireland to another country outside the EU.

There are no licensing requirements to move dual-use items from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

Sanctions regulations under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 may also apply to activities involving dual-use items. These regulations apply to the whole of the UK (including Northern Ireland).

Dual-use items (including software and technology) are items which can be used for both civil and military purposes. The term also includes all goods which have non-explosive uses or assist in any way with the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

You can assess your goods, software and technology against the UK Strategic Export Control Lists to determine whether or not they are controlled.

The OGEL and Goods Checker Tools can be used to:

  • check if the items are controlled
  • identify the appropriate control entry

If your items are not listed on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists, you may still need a licence under End-Use Controls or trade sanctions and embargoes.

You can use SPIRE, the online export licensing system to apply for all types of export licences.

Exporting controlled items without the correct export license is a criminal offence.

Penalties vary depending on the nature of the offence but they range from:

  • your licence being revoked
  • goods being seized
  • a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years

Dual-use items, software and technology

Dual-use items include physical goods, software and technology and are set out in these broad categories:

Control categories items
0 nuclear materials
1 materials, chemicals, micro-organisms and toxins
2 materials processing
3 electronics
4 computers
5 telecommunications and information security
6 sensors and lasers
7 navigation and avionics
8 marine
9 aerospace and propulsion

Each category is then divided again from A to E:

  • A: systems equipment and components
  • B: test, inspection and production equipment
  • C: materials
  • D: software
  • E: technology

These items are listed in the Council Regulation (EC) 428/2009, as retained under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 for Great Britain.

Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 has direct application in Northern Ireland.

Dual-use licenses

You need a licence to:

  • export controlled dual-use items from Great Britain
  • export controlled dual-use items from Northern Ireland to outside the EU

You do not need a licence to export controlled dual-use items from Northern Ireland to the EU.

Open general export licence (export of dual-use items to EU Member States) allows the export of dual-use items (with both a civilian and military application) from Great Britain to EU Member States and the Channel Islands.

You need a new licence, issued by an EU Member State for exporting dual-use items from the EU to Great Britain.

The EU has added the UK as a permitted destination to their General Export Authorisation (GEA) EU001 to minimise any additional licensing burden for those exporting dual-use items from EU to the UK.

Check if your goods are controlled

Use the consolidated list of strategic military and dual use items including UK national controls to find out whether your goods are controlled.

Use the OGEL and Goods Checker Tools to check if your items are controlled.

You can also check the Control List Classification Service on SPIRE.

Other items requiring additional permissions

In a small number of cases, dual use items or information may have a classification of official-sensitive or above.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has set a mandatory requirement for the control of the release by industry of equipment or information with a classification of official-sensitive or above, including in their marketing campaigns to foreign end-users. This includes UK material classified restricted or above, graded prior to April 2014, and internationally security classified material. Control of release is therefore conducted through the MOD Form 680 application process.

Find out more about the MOD Form 680.

You can apply for MOD Form 680 approval on SPIRE.

Military End-Use Controls

The Military End-Use Control is a catch-all control in the EU Dual Use Regulation 428/2009, as retained under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 for Great Britain. This means that even if the items which you intend to export are not listed on the consolidated list of strategic military and dual-use items, you might still require an export licence under this control.

An exporter is usually informed by the Department for International Trade (DIT), via the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) that an export licence is required for one of two reasons:

1) Exporting non-controlled items that are, or may be, intended for use with military equipment in an embargoed destination. This can include otherwise non-controlled goods if they are intended for incorporation into military equipment. The control also exists for the development, production or maintenance of such equipment, or for use in a plant for production of such equipment in an embargoed destination.

2) Exporting non-controlled items that are intended for use as parts or components of military goods illegally obtained from the UK, irrespective of destination.

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