are export controls all about?
The Government imposes restrictions on exports and
re-exports for a number of reasons including:
collective security of the UK and its allies in
national security and control of anything which
contributes to Nuclear, Biological or Chemical
Weapons or Military and Para military Goods ;
foreign policy and UK/EU/US and UN Embargoes/
Sanctions under international treaty obligations and
Counter Terrorism, internal repression and Human
goods, Software or technologies are subject to UK
export controls or if the Country of Destination or
buyer is on any Embargo or Denial List Exporters
will need an export licence to export them.
Forwarders are subject to similar rules where they
act for the exporter or non-residents even for
movement within the European Union in some cases.
Failure to obtain an appropriate license can lead to
seizure of goods by the UK Border Force followed by
criminal charges, large financial penalties or
restrictions on exports in more serious cases.
Exporters or forwarders who suspect any discrepancy
whatsoever are advised to seek advice and make
voluntary disclosure to the authorities where a
breach of the rules seems likely.
Strategic Control Lists include not only arms and
industrial equipment and technologies, which could
be used to produce arms, but a long list of so
called Dual Use items must be classified and covered
by a valid export licence. Exporters are required by
law to classify all exports and send the list to
their forwarders and regularly update it.
Subsidiaries of US, Japanese and other EU countries
subject to UK rules and do other countries impose
All companies and persons resident in UK are subject
to the same rules as UK companies and persons but
many foreign subsidiaries have assumed that they
were only bound by the same rules as their parent
company or that adherence to US Extraterritorial
rules covered them for export from the UK. This has
led to significant embarrassment of the parent
companies in UK and at home and to dismissal or
recall of relevant personnel and managers. Sales to
national governments have in some cases been
addition the UK has “Trade Controls” and Japan has
Audits which apply Extraterritorially to their
nationals and companies abroad and are subject to
severe penalties in the event of
United States however has sweeping complex rules
restrictions and denial lists which apply worldwide
to us EXPORTS AND RE-EXPORTS, US Persons, Companies,
Products, Technology Software and even to speech
BUT WITH EXEMPTIONS AND CONDITIONS WHICH MUST BE
COMPLIED WITH AND DOCUMENTED IN MANY CASES. Further
explanation of these issues are described elsewhere
on the website.
other International Agreements apply?
The vast majority of the export controls implemented
by the UK authorities are based on international
agreements and so you will find very similar
requirements in most other industrialised countries.
For example, the lists of controlled items are
based on lists agreed internationally by the
organisations listed below.
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
Commits the five official nuclear weapons states:-
USA, UK, France, Russia & China, to not transferring
nuclear weapons or technology to others or
assisting, encouraging or inducing their manufacture
or acquisition. Other signatories, the non-nuclear
weapon states, have undertaken not to acquire
nuclear weapons and to accept monitoring of their
civil nuclear programmes by the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA). Signatories to the NPT number
over 180 countries.
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) This
convention bans the development, production,
stockpiling, acquisition and use of bacteriological
(biological) and toxin weapons, also provides for
the destruction of existing weapons.
Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Bans the
possession, development, stockpiling, transfer and
use of chemical weapons, also provides for the
destruction of existing weapons and the means to
These treaties are legally binding, various
countries have informal groups working together
against the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
programmes in certain countries.
Including the Wassenaar Arrangement membership, some
40 countries are currently involved in these
activities through the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),
the Zangger Committee, the Australia Group (AG), and
the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)
Q. If the
controls are mainly associated with arms and their
production, does this mean that only defence
companies are affected?
No, because the list of controlled items is mainly
made up of so-called 'dual-use' goods & technology,
which means items which are usually, or
predominantly, used in commercial or industrial
applications but which have an additional
application in a defence context. A 'loose'
definition may be 'capable of but not specially
designed for military purposes' Care is needed here
because the link to a military application may be
quite remote or tenuous and you might be surprised
about what is actually on the list.
you provide some examples of these dual-use items?
It is difficult to provide an exhaustive or
representative statement because the list of
dual-use controlled goods runs to many pages and
arguably touches upon just about every area of
technology that you are likely to find in a factory
or research laboratory.
dual-use list covers nuclear equipment, machine
tools, chemicals, materials, electronic components,
instrumentation, computers, telecommunications
equipment, aircraft, navigation, sensors, underwater
technology, lasers, propulsion and many other areas,
including associated software and technology .
the case of Embargoes or Sanctions or Military Use
the prohibitions may extend to all services,
software and even to oral advice where the
technology and destination are both highly
summary, which goods need a licence?
The main types of Goods & Technologies that require
a licence are:
goods capable of, but not specially designed for,
military purposes; (examples in previous question).
military equipment such as arms, ammunition, bombs,
tanks, imaging devices, military aircraft and
nuclear-related goods including nuclear materials,
nuclear reactors and nuclear processing plant.
chemical weapons precursors, and related equipment
certain micro-organisms, biological equipment and
goods used in programmes involving weapons of mass
destruction and missiles used for their delivery.
goods to be exported or supplied to destinations
that are the subject of UK/US/EU & United Nations
Q. Do the
controls apply just to finished goods?
No, components, spare parts and technology for
controlled goods are also likely to require a
licence. Generally speaking, if the systems
equipment or finished item is subject to control
then any item, be it a component part, test
equipment, software or technical data, if specific
to or specially designed for that controlled item is
also likely to be controlled.
Q. How do
we work out whether our goods are on the list?
Consult the Strategic Export Lists which are
published by the Export Control Organisation a
department of BIS in
There is no avoiding this and the complexity of
rules require you to use specialist advice or
trained staff to interpret the Strategic List along
with staff who know the product prior to export,
regardless of overseas destination. You must compare
the product specifications with descriptions shown
in the appropriate legislation control lists to make
this determination, if necessary by reference to the
original equipment manufacturers..
Further complications arise where items are not
actually listed but you may be aware or have
suspicions or be informed that they are intended to
be used in connection with 'weapons of mass
destruction' (WMD) or missiles for their delivery -
in which case you must apply for an export licence
under the 'end-use control' provisions
The Export Control Organisation at BIS offer a
rating advisory service, and you can complete the
Export Rating Request Form from the ECO through the
SPIRE website and send it to the Technologies Unit
along with suitable specifications and technical
details, you will then receive advice as to whether
or not, in their view on the information given the
items are controlled or non-controlled subject to
the end-use control & sanctions etc.
you summarise the legal measures on Export Controls
applicable to UK Exporters ?
below but a more detailed list can be found on the
For Military equipment, dual-use items and other
items whose export is subject to control for
strategic reasons, legislation was updated by
introduction of The Export Control Act with effect
from 1st May 2004:
UK Export Control Order 2008 - This is the 'main
legislation' effective since 6th April 2009
Council Regulation (EU) No 1290/2014
Council Regulation (EC) 428/2009 (The EC Regulation)
Council Regulation (EC) 1236/2005 (Controls on
Export of Radioactive Sources (Control) Order 2006
EC Regulation contains provision for the following:
Annex I - The EU Common Control List of Dual -Use
Items in Categories 0 - 9, General Notes,
Definitions, Acronyms & abbreviations.
Annex II - Details eligibility & conditions of use
of the Community General Export Authorisation (CGEA
EU001) for shipments of eligible Annex I items from
the EC to: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand,
Norway, Switzerland & United States of America.
Contains special registration & reporting
requirements for the exportation of Cryptographic
Annex III - Provides licensing guidelines for
application across the Community.
Annex IV - A list of most sensitive Annex I items
that require special conditions, even for intra EC
transfers ie movement within the European Union.
As with all legislation, you are advised to take
legal advice where necessary and to ensure that you
are referring to the latest version.
actually constitutes an Export ?
HM Revenue & Customs 'Implementing Provisions
Relating to Export Chapter 1 Permanent Exportation
"The exporter, within the meaning of Article 161
(5) of the Code, shall be considered to be the
person on whose behalf the export declaration is
made and who is the owner of the goods or has a
similar right of disposal over them at the time when
the declaration is accepted.
Where ownership or a similar right of disposal over
the goods belongs to a person established outside
the Community pursuant to the contract on which the
export is based, the exporter shall be considered to
be the contracting party established in the
Community. This is particularly relevant to Freight
In Export Control terms, apart from
what may be called normal shipments by sea, air &
road, this will also include Mail (also electronic
mail and voice in some cases - known as
'intangible'). Also includes shipments by courier
and in personal luggage (hand-carry). An export in
this sense may also include provision of services
such as installation, maintenance and technical
assistance in some cases.