Guidance

Assessment of export licence applications: criteria and policy

How applications for strategic controlled goods (ie military or dual-use items) are assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

Overview

The Export Control Organisation (ECO) - part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) - is responsible for assessing export licences for strategic goods, which include military goods and a wide range ‘dual-use’ goods (civilian goods with a military purpose).

All applications for export licences (which are applied for via SPIRE) are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and a decision made on either approval or refusal.

Depending on the nature of the goods, other policy aspects might also be considered. For example, if the exported goods are due to be incorporated into another system, equipment or plant, then the items are also assessed against the UK’s incorporation factors policy.

This guide contains basic information about the Consolidated Criteria and incorporation factors and links to the full policy statements.

The Consolidated Criteria (for export licence applications)

The Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria set out the basis on which the government assesses licence applications for military and dual-use goods which are authorised by the ECO. The Criteria include consideration of whether the proposed export would:

  • contravene the UK’s international commitments (ie breach arms embargoes or sanctions)
  • be used for internal repression or the abuse of human rights
  • provoke or prolong armed conflicts or aggravate existing tensions in the destination country
  • be used aggressively against another country
  • adversely affect the national security of the UK or allies
  • be to a destination where the behaviour of the buyer country raises concerns with regard to its attitude to terrorism or respect of international law
  • be diverted or re-exported under undesirable conditions
  • in the case of developing countries, seriously hamper the sustainable development of the recipient country

If the proposed export fails to meet one or more of the criteria listed above, then a licence will be refused.

The origins of the Consolidated Criteria are as follows:

  • July 1997 - Foreign Secretary announces UK’s national criteria
  • 8 June 1998 - EU adopts Code of Conduct on Arms Exports
  • 26 October 2000 - EU and National Criteria consolidated into one set of criteria (in form of a House of Commons statement)

Download the Consolidated Criteria

Licensing policy statement on incorporated goods

All strategic goods which require an export licence issued by the ECO are assessed on a case-by-case basis in relation to the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. This includes component goods that are incorporated into other equipment, systems or plants.

Additionally, incorporated goods are also assessed in terms of an extra set of criteria otherwise known as incorporation factors.

What are the incorporation factors?

The incorporation factors were introduced by a written statement made by the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, on 8 July 2002. Their introduction was in recognition of the fact that the defence industry was becoming increasingly globalised, with products being worked upon in a number of countries prior to final export. As a consequence, tensions could arise between the UK and other contributing countries and ‘other factors’ did not address these situations satisfactorily.

The statement outlines the UK government’s approach to licence applications for goods where it is understood they are to be incorporated into products for onward export.

Read the Foreign Secretary’s statement on incorporation factors.

Further information

BIS ECO Helpline

020 7215 4594 or email eco.help@bis.gsi.gov.uk

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