Guidance

Strategic exports: when to request an export licence

When military, chemical, technological or electronic goods being exported require a licence from the Export Control Organisation.

Introduction

The Export Control Organisation (ECO) controls ‘strategic’ goods. Strategic goods are military goods or ‘dual-use’ (civilian goods that can be used for military purposes). Export controls on other categories of goods are the responsibility of other departments. Exports can require a licence from the ECO for one of two reasons:

  1. The goods are listed on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists or are on additional Sanctions Lists - as a result a licence is required because they are classified as ‘controlled’ items, regardless of the end-user. The following broad categories of goods are likely to be controlled:
    • most items that have been specially designed or modified for military use and their components
    • dual-use Items - those that can be used for civil or military purposes - which meet certain specified technical standards and some of their components associated technology and software
    • goods that might be used for torture
    • radioactive sources
  2. The goods are not listed, but there are concerns about end-use. For instance, there might be concerns that an overseas organisation could use the items in a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) or military programme in an embargoed destination. In these cases, the ECO has the power to make an export licensable via the ‘End-Use Control’.

Before either registering or applying for any type of export licence issued by the ECO, you firstly need to check whether your items are on a Control List. In making this check on the control status of your goods, you have two options. You can:

  • self-rate your goods by checking the specific classification entry references or ‘ratings’ on the Control Lists
  • request a technical assessment of your goods via the Control List Classification Advice Service available on the ECO’s SPIRE export licensing database

Additionally, if you are exporting non-listed Dual-Use or military goods, you can refer to advice from the ECO where there may be concerns about end-use by using the End-User Advice Service (available via SPIRE).

This guide explains more about how you can:

  • make your own self-assessment of the ‘rating’ of your goods (self-rating)
  • make use of the ECO’s information and online tools - Goods Checker and the Control List Classification Search Tool on the SPIRE database - to support you in making an informed judgement
  • increase your knowledge of the Control Lists and self-assessing your goods classification rating by attending an ECO training course
  • make use of the appropriate, distinct advice services provided by the ECO - either the Control List Classification Advice Service if requiring a technical assessment of goods or the End-User Advice Service to ask ECO for advice on end-user concerns

If you already aware of the ‘rating’ of your goods or have been ‘informed’ of end-user concerns,  you need to apply for the appropriate export licence via ECO’s SPIRE export licensing database.

Self-rating - identify your goods on the Control Lists

What is ’rating’?

‘Rating’ or ‘classifying’ means matching your goods with a classification code number on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists.

Self-rating is when you independently check the Control Lists and determine the correct entry for your goods yourself. If you can self-rate you are recommended to do so. As a responsible exporter of dual-use or military records, you are expected to have an understanding of the Control List status of your goods. Making your own informed checks is good practice, will potentially save you time and will help you when applying or registering for the appropriate licences.

You should be aware that the Control Lists are subject to change, as items are either controlled or de-controlled.

How to self-rate

To self-rate successfully you need to have an understanding of the UK Strategic Export Control Lists. The lists are comprised of several separate listings, including the UK Military List and the UK and European Union (EU) Dual-Use Lists. Items on the lists are indexed under a ‘rating’ or classification code entry.

There are two online tools available to assist you in identifying possible Control List classification entries for your goods and interrogating the listing. 

A brief overview of the two main sections of the Control Lists is provided below:

Goods on the UK Military List

Ratings of military goods have two main classification codes:

  • ML code - items subject to international regime agreement on controls
  • PL code - UK controls on specific items

Military goods ratings

Rating Goods
ML1 and ML2 Smooth bore weapons
ML3 Ammunition and components for ML1, ML2 and ML12
ML4 Bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles and other devices, components and accessories
ML5 Devices for fire control, components and accessories and their counter measure equipment
ML6 Ground vehicles, containers and components
ML7 and ML8 Explosives and chemicals
ML9 Vessels, special naval equipment, accessories and components
ML10 Aircraft, unmanned airborne vehicles, aeroengines
ML11 Electronic equipment and components
ML12 High velocity kinetic energy weapon systems
ML13 Armour plate and body armour
ML14 Simulators and training equipment
ML15 Imaging equipment
ML16 Forging, castings and unfinished products
ML17 Miscellaneous goods including diving equipment, ferries, containers
ML18 Production equipment
ML21 Software for listed goods
ML22 and PL5017 Technology for listed goods
PL5017 Equipment and test models
ML19 Directed weapon systems
PL5001 Paramilitary goods

Download the UK Military List of items that require export authorisation

Goods on the EU Dual-Use List

Dual-use goods are not designed for military use, but could potentially have military applications or be used to produce military items. The scope of the Dual-Use List is wide ranging and includes items such as lathes or valves.

The EU Dual-Use List is split into ten categories, each of which is divided into 5 sub-categories. There are 5 further classifications, which indicate the relevant International Control Regime (such as Nuclear Suppliers Group or Missile Technology Control Regime) that determine the need to control a particular item.

Dual-Use goods ratings

Control categories
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
Sub-categories
A - systems, equipment and components
B - test, inspection and production equipment
C - materials
D - software
E - technology
Regime origin
0 - Wassenaar Arrangement
1 - Missile Technology Control Regime
2 - Nuclear Supply Group
3 - Australia Group
4 - Chemical Weapons Convention

Example Dual-Use classification

2B350.g.3

category 2 - materials processing sub-category B - test, inspection and production equipment regime origin 3 - Australia Group description 50.g.3 - valves with nominal sizes greater than 10 milimetres, where surfaces in direct contact with chemical(s) being processed or contained are made from: alloys more than 25% nickel and 20% chromium by weight fluoropolymers glass or vitrified enamel lining

Download the UK consolidated list of strategic military and dual-use items that require export authorisation

Training and online tools to help you self-rate

To help you in being able to self-rate, the Export Control Organisation (ECO) provides two online search tools and also a regular programme of training seminars in how to ‘rate’ your goods for export control purposes.

Online Search Tools

You can use either the Control List Classification Search Tool (on the SPIRE database) or the Goods Checker database to aid searching the UK Strategic Export Control Lists by using relevant keywords.

Control List Classification Search Tool

This tool is designed to help you search on previous ‘rating’ assessments made by the ECO’s Technical Assessment Unit.

Goods Checker database tool

The Goods Checker database is designed to help you do keyword searches on the specific wording included in the UK Strategic Export Control Lists. It can be helpful in identifying the definitions as referenced in the Control Lists.

Use the Goods Checker on the Checker Tools website.

ECO training programme

The ECO provides an ongoing programme of training courses for exporters on both a scheduled and bespoke basis. Courses run by the ECO range from a Beginners Workshop to specific Classification workshops.

Access details of strategic export control training provided by the ECO.

What is the Control List Classification Advice Service?

If you export strategic goods and technology from the UK, you may need a licence from the ECO. Exports licensed by the ECO include:

  • military goods
  • dual-use goods
  • goods with potential use as Weapons of Mass destruction (WMD)
  • goods with potential use in torture
  • radioactive sources

If you do not know how your goods should be ‘rated’ and are unable to self-rate, you can request the ECO’s Technical Assessment Unit (TAU) to make an assessment of your goods. This request should be made via the ECO’s Control List Classification Service option available on the SPIRE website.

TAU is made up of a team of engineers and scientists - all with industrial experience - who provide advice to exporters and other parts of government on the technical application of the export control legislation.

A ‘Control List Classification Advice’ enquiry is the process of asking whether what you intend to export features on a Control List. It is an advisory service only and is not a licence to export.

If the answer to this is ‘yes’, then a licence will be required before you can export. Alternatively, if the answer is ‘no’, then you will only require a licence if there are WMD or Military End-Use concerns about overseas entities who you intend to deal with.

You are not obliged to use the Control List Classification Advice Service. If you are able to do so, you are advised to determine the goods rating yourself by ‘self-rating’. This will be a quicker option.

Submit a request for the Control List Classification Advice Service

All Control List Classification Advice Service requests should be made via ECO’s SPIRE online application system.

You can only ask for 4 items to be rated at a time. Larger enquiries or multiple applications will usually be rejected.

The service is based on the information that it receives from you. If you give false or misleading information, the advice will not be correct. However, you will still be legally responsible for complying with export control legislation.

TAU will check the supplied goods descriptions in relation to the published export control legislative requirements detailed in the UK Strategic Export Control Lists and additional Sanctions Lists.

You should be aware that there is no validity period for Control List status advice. This does not mean that you need to request new advice every time the Control Lists change, since only specific parts of the list are updated. However, you should keep informed of changes and take appropriate action as a result.

Information needed to rate strategic goods

To use the Control List Classification Advice Service provided by the Export Control Organisation (ECO) you must supply detailed information about each item on your application. This will be assessed by the ECO’s Technical Assessment Unit (TAU), who will decide whether your items need an export licence.

You should remember that the service is not related to any particular specific export destination or end-user - it will only confirm if your equipment features on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists.

Information needed for a Control List Classification Advice Service request includes:

  • original design purpose - particularly if different from current intended use
  • brochures, data sheets and ‘short form’ descriptions (but not manuals unless specifically requested)
  • type and functions of the goods
  • technical parameters (not just weight and size)
  • identifying general purpose items - ie designed for no specific equipment - and provide clear explanations about nature of items
  • your own preliminary ‘rating’ assessment

Providing the information above at the outset will minimise any potential delays in processing your case.

In particular, it is important to provide:

Simple descriptions

Provide a simple description of the goods and possible uses, suitable for the layman with little knowledge of your business.

Military use and applications

One of TAU’s key checks is to determine whether your goods are specially designed or modified for military use, regardless of end-use.

Where goods are destined for military use or where military applications are apparent in the product literature, you should identify the design origins and original intended use of the goods. However, this may not be necessary where the design origin is reasonably obvious - such as a machine gun or fighter aircraft. Often, the original design intent is not clear, especially where there are military and civil variants of the goods.

For arms and military goods we need the year of manufacture, if they are 50 or more years old.

Goods used as components

If your goods are components of a system or are used to make or repair another product, you must describe the system in detail, including:

  • type
  • model
  • function

You must say whether the items or components are being used according to their original design function, or have been modified to meet another purpose.

Known Control List Classification Entry or ‘Rating’

Where known you should indicate the Control List Classification or ‘rating’ of each item. We recommend that before you submit an enquiry you should undertake a ‘self-rating’ assessment of your own.

Previous enquiry details

Make sure that you supply reference numbers of previous export licence application, rating enquiries or Control List Classification Advice enquiries for similar or identical items.

You should also ensure that any specific information previously requested by the ECO is re-sent with your current enquiry.

Other issues involved in determining the need for export licences

End-use concerns

Even if your goods are not listed on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists (including either the UK Military or Dual-Use Lists), you may still need an export licence under the WMD or Military End-Use Controls.

WMD goods include industrial items and materials that could be used in a WMD programme. They are licensable by government on a one-off basis, where there are suspicions that they might be used for WMD purposes.

Under military end-use controls, you need a licence to export items for:

  • dual-use items that are - or may be - intended for use with military equipment
  • dual-use items that may be intended for use as parts of military goods illegally obtained from the UK

If the ECO has advised that your goods do not feature on a Control List, but you now have doubts about how they will be used, you should apply for advice via our End-User Advice Service.

Sanctions and embargoes on your export destination

You should also be aware of other licensing considerations including whether there are any sanctions or embargoes that apply to your intended export destination.

For more information, see the guide on current arms embargoes and other restrictions.

Apply for a licence

If you are aware, by whatever means (such as by self-rating, by making a Control List Classification Service request or by being informed of end-use concerns) that your goods are controlled, then you will need to apply for the appropriate licence.

The ECO issues various types of licence - the most common types being an Open General Export Licence (OGEL), Standard Individual Export Licence (SIEL) or Open Individual Export Licence (OIEL). For more information about each licence type, see our guide on licences: export, trade control and transhipment.

Use of an Open General Export Licence

When applying for licences, you should first consider whether you might be able to use an Open General Export Licence (OGEL). OGELs are pre-published licences which are issued by the ECO to cover the export of less restricted controlled goods to less restricted destinations. Using OGELs could potentially save you time and money.

There are currently over 40 published OGELs which licence the export of both specified Dual-Use and military goods to specified destinations.

Before using all OGELs you should carefully read and be prepared to adhere to all the specific terms and conditions. You will also need to know the ‘rating’ of your goods. All OGEL holders are subject to Compliance Audits made by the ECO.

Further details about OGELs including the details of licence requirements and conditions are available in our guide about Open General Licences: an overview).

The End-User Advice Service - get advice from ECO

The End-User Advice Service is the process by which you can seek advice from the ECO about any concerns with the overseas entities (companies or individuals) involved in your export transaction.

The service is provided by the ECO in light of sensitivities surrounding WMD programmes and Military End-Use Control concerns and the associated risks of exporting goods to various countries.

The service is only available to exporters who already know that the goods they intend to export do not feature on a UK Strategic Export Control List or any other specific export control legislation (in other words the goods are not normally controlled and do not usually require an export licence).

If you can fulfil this requirement, then you can submit an End-User Advice request on the SPIRE export licence database.

If you are unable to meet this requirement because you have not already established whether or not what you intend to export features on a Control List or other specific export control legislation, you can either:

  • self-rate your goods with the help of the Control List Classification Search Tool (on SPIRE) or the Goods Checker database to determine whether your goods fall within the UK Strategic Export Control Lists
  • make a Control List Classification Advice Service request via the SPIRE export licensing database
  • check the UK Strategic Export Control Lists

If you already know that your goods are listed on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists, you should not use this service.

You should also remember that if you have already been informed by letter by the ECO that a licence is required on WMD or military end-use control grounds, then you must apply for a licence. You will not be able to use the End-User Advice Service or the Control List Classification Service to meet your legal obligations.

Benefits of the service

The End-User Advice Service aims to provide a fast response to end-user enquiries.

Via the service the ECO will advise whether there are any end-user concerns with the quoted customers or associated entities in a destination and whether you will need to apply for a licence for export or not.

In this way, exporters can receive faster advice and, if you check that advice close to the date of export, can be more confident that it will remain accurate at the time of export.

How the End-User Advice Service works

There are practical considerations when using the End-User Advice Service provided by the ECO.

Information needed when making an End-User Advice request

Before ECO accept your enquiry, you will need to submit the:

  • name of your company - including UK address and postcode
  • name and address of the end-user (including website where possible)
  • name and address of any other entity/third parties involved in the contract or deal

Submit a request for End-User Advice

If you are exporting to a destination and have taken all necessary steps to ensure by other means that the goods you are planning to export do not require an export licence, you can subsequently request End-User Advice from the ECO.

To submit an End-User Advice enquiry to the ECO, you must use the SPIRE online application system. You will need to be a registered SPIRE user before using this service.

Apply for the End-User Advice Service using SPIRE

In making your enquiry, it would be helpful if you could add the SPIRE Rating Enquiry or Control List Classification Advice Service reference number (if you have previously submitted a request for the same goods). You will only have limited space to provide supplementary information.

Further information about the End-User Advice Service

The End-User Advice Service aims to provide an email response to your request within a fast turnaround.

The advice provided by the ECO will be based on the information that you supply. ECO advice does not relieve you of your legal responsibilities for complying with export regulations. If you give the ECO incomplete, misleading or false information, it could mean that you receive incorrect advice.

Similarly, you must inform ECO immediately, if you either:

  • already possess information which leads you to know or suspect that what you intend to export is (either in its entirity or in part) intended for use in or contributes to Iran’s military or WMD programmes
  • or if you receive such information following receipt of our advice

When you inform ECO you should give details of the information and seek separate or further advice. If you do not do so you may commit a criminal offence.

ECO reserves the right to reject enquiries for this service if they judge that your application represents a misuse of the system by presenting voluminous or persistent applications.

You are advised to read the service’s Terms of Use beforehand, which are available on the SPIRE website. These terms cover recording and use of information in case of enforcement action. 

You should also note that End-User Advice is valid at the time it is given but can change in the future because information about companies changes from day to day. The nearer the advice is given to the date of export, the greater the likelihood that it remains valid.

You are advised to remain updated about the introduction of sanctions or other legislative updates by subscribing to the ECO’s Notices to Exporters. Details of current sanctions and embargoes in force are available in the guide on current arms embargoes and other restrictions.

If you have been ‘informed’ that you need a licence

Don’t forget that if you have already been informed by letter by the ECO that a licence is required on WMD or military end-use control grounds, then you must apply for a licence. In this case you will not be able to the End-User Advice Service or Control List Classification Service to meet your legal obligations.

How to use the Control List Numbers (rating) appearing on export licences

The Control List Number appearing on the licence is the control entry classification of the items being exported as assessed against the various export legislation administered by the ECO.

The number is typically called the ‘rating’. It is an important piece of information, which may help with your future business planning if you intend to export goods of the same nature in future.

For example, by researching the details of the control entry classifications you can see what similar equipment might be controlled, and thus establish whether licences will be needed for them as well, or indeed whether the less restrictive Open General or Open Individual Export Licences also issued by the ECO would be appropriate for future exports.  

Types of ‘ratings’ and their implications

You might see various different types of ‘rating’ references listed on an issued export licence. These are:

  • Control List Numbers starting with ML or PL are military or UK Dual-Use controlled items. ML classified items and most PL classified items will always require an export licence regardless of their intended destination, but it may be possible to use OGELs in some instances. By looking at the Control List entry against the OGEL Checker tool, you can identify where this may apply for your future exports. 
  • Control List Numbers starting with a number followed by a letter (e.g. 2B350i) are Dual-Use goods specified by the EU Dual-Use Regulation. A licence will be required for future exports of those goods for destinations outside the European Union, with only a limited number of those items requiring a licence to EU member states, but again, OGELs may be available
  • Control List Numbers beginning with RS are items specified by the UK’s radioactive sources legislation and those with a HR are items specified by the EU Regulation on capital punishment and torture. For details on these specific pieces of legislation, see the guides on controls on radioactive sources and controls on torture goods.
  • The Control List Numbers marked as ‘restrictive measures’ are country specific controls that are a result of embargoes or sanctions against a particular export destination. For further information about sanctions on specific destinations, see the guide on current arms embargoes and other restrictions.
  • Goods marked with a Control List Number of either END or MEND are items that have been controlled because of concerns about their possible end-use. These are sometimes referred to as the ‘catch-all’ controls. Future exports of the same or similar goods may not require licences if the destination and/or end user are different, because the same concerns may not apply. For more information on these controls, you can view the guides on the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) End-Use Control and Military End-Use Control. 

The Control Lists

For the full control text associated with each of the above ‘ratings’, except ‘restrictive measures’ and end-use ratings, please download the Control List PDF documents. For more information see the guide on the UK Strategic Export Controls - the consolidated list of strategic military and Dual-Use Items.  

Online search tools

You can use the Control List Classification Search Tool (which is available when you log into the SPIRE database) in conjunction with the Goods Checker tool (see below) to help you identify where your goods may be controlled in the Control Lists.

The Control List Classification Search Tool is designed to help you search the SPIRE database for any previous ‘rating’ assessments made by the ECO’s Technical Assessment Unit. By entering a short keyword to describe your goods, software or technology, you can get a list of possible relevant Control List Classifications, also known as ‘ratings’. You can then follow up these suggestions by looking directly at the relevant control entries, either by viewing the Control Lists themselves, or using Goods Checker, to determine whether your item is controlled.

Use the Goods Checker on the ECO Checker website (registration required). 

Use the Control LIst Classification Search Tool on the SPIRE website (registration required). 

Open General Export Licences

To see if the items in question can be exported under OGELs in the future, please consider using the ECO’s OGEL Checker database, which is a web-based search tool that enables you to identify if an OGEL might potentially be available to cover the export of your goods.

Use the OGEL Checker on the ECO Checker website (registration required). 

Further details about OGELs - including the terms and conditions which you must adhere to in holding the licence - are available in the guide about Open General Licences: an overview. 

Frequently asked questions about rating your goods

What is a ‘rating’?

Under the Control List Classification Advice Service, ECO assesses whether items are listed on a UK Strategic Export Control List. If an item is referenced on these lists it will have a ’Control List entry’ or ‘rating’ code or number.  

As an initial guide to identifying the appropriate ‘rating’ for your items you can look at the tables of Military Use and Dual-Use Items in this guide. These broad headings are divided into further sub-categories which form the actual ‘rating’ entry. The entry provides a description of the items. ‘Rating’ is the process of determining if your items can be categorised under a relevant description.

Does the ‘rating’ depend on the destination country or identity of the end-user?

Generally, no, although certain goods are controlled only when exported to a certain country (such as Iran).

The identity of the end-user comes into play under End-Use Controls.

Does the ‘rating’ depend on the actual end-use of the goods?

No, it is purely based on the specification of the goods in question. However, even where goods are not normally controlled, they can be made licensable, where there are either WMD or Military End-Use Control concerns.

Why can we only have four items on a rating enquiry?

This is due quite simply to resource issues.

What items require an export licence?

You should refer to the guide on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists - the consolidated list of strategic military and Dual-Use Items. 

You should also be aware that items might also require a licence under either the End-Use Controls or because of sanctions and embargoes.

How can we determine if products are controlled?

There are various ways to determine if your products are controlled:

You should be aware that the UK Trade Tariff only provides a broad initial indication of whether some goods are restricted. You should not use the Tariff as your unique reference point to determine if your goods are controlled, but should check the Control Lists themselves.

It is advisable and best practice to check whether your items are controlled as early as possible and build this into your management processes. This may be well in advance of any specific enquiry or order and can be at the design or development stage of a new product. For further best practice advice you can download the ECO Compliance Code of Practice.

For military goods, you should also be aware of the MOD F680 procedures. See the guide on MOD F680 applications.

If a company makes their own ‘rating’ decision and that turns out to be wrong, are we liable?

Yes you would be liable. You are advised to take out insurance against this happening and speak to your insurer.

What if I have a specific export order to fulfil and am unsure about whether the goods require a licence?

If you have confirmed business and envisage an export in the near future then it is best that you apply for a licence. ECO will either:

  • grant a licence
  • refuse the application
  • advise that a licence is not required

In each instance, the final licence response will advise you of the status of your goods. If you are advised that no licence is required, then you should use the End-User Advice Service for future queries relating to shipments to specific end-users of non-listed goods.

Are components on the Control Lists always controlled?

You should check the wording of control entries very carefully since some entries include all specially designed components (including most of the military list) while others include only those components listed and some do not control components at all.

For more information, see the guide on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists - the consolidated list of strategic military and Dual-Use Items. 

What does ‘specially designed or modified for military use’ mean?

This means the original design intent of the goods.

Does painting an item green make it ‘modified’ for military use?

If the paint used is standard, plain green paint then no. If the paint has been modified in some way - for instance, to make it infra-red reflective - then yes.

What are dual-use goods?

These are goods that have both military and dual-use applications.

See more information in our guide on controls on dual-use goods. Depending on the product you are looking to export, you might be able to use either an OGEL or a European Union General Export Authorisation (EU GEA) which provide licensing coverage for specific dual-sse goods being exported to less restricted destinations. For more information, see the guide on Dual-Use Open General Export Licences

What if we don’t know what the items were originally designed for, for instance if they were designed a long time ago or if the original manufacturer has long since ceased to exist?

You need to do your own due diligence and make an informed decision on the knowledge that you possess at the time. If in doubt, contact the ECO and make either a Control List Classification Advice Service request or make a licence application via SPIRE.

If my product is not described on the Control Lists does that mean a licence is not required?

No. A licence might be required as a result of End-Use Controls (“catch-all” controls which make items licensable even if not listed. These controls are the Military End-Use Control or the Weapons of Mass Destruction End-Use Control.

What sort of details do I need to provide to get End-User Advice?

In short, you need to provide details of who you are, your UK address and the identity and address of any overseas entities that you are dealing with. You do not need to provide details of the goods that you are intending to export.

Your request for end-user advice needs to be completed online via the SPIRE export licensing database (registration required).

No. The previous Ratings Service is now discontinued and we no longer issue ‘old style’ No Licence required letters.  

But my bank or insurer demands that I get an NLR style letter before they release payment. What can I do?

This is not correct. Organisations representing banks and the insurance industry have been advised of the current procedures. If banks make these demands upon you then you can refer them to this guidance.

What sort of details will exporters have to present to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)?

HMRC require a range of general documentation for exports and their requirements are not affected by the ECO’s advisory service procedures.

If Control List Classification Advice has confirmed that you need a licence, you will need to apply for one.

If ECO has advised you that your goods are not listed, then you should ensure that you include this notification in the package of documents that you put before HMRC to accompany the export. If, in addition, you have sought End-User Advice and ECO has confirmed that it has no concerns with the named entities, then you need to also include this notification.

The important aspect is to demonstrate to HMRC that you have taken appropriate steps.

 ECO has issued end-user advice saying that it has no concerns with my goods. However, our goods still get stopped at Customs. Why?

HMRC do their own checks based on their own intelligence and risk assessment.This process is entirely independent of exporters seeking ECO advice, and rightly so, since it is only at the frontier that we have the possibility of checking that the goods exported match those that have been declared.

If HMRC do decide to detain an export, then the process of clearing should run more smoothy if you have all the right documents together as set out above.

How long is End-User advice valid for?

End-User advice is valid at the time it is given, but it can change in the future because information about companies changes from day to day. The nearer the advice is given to the date of export, the greater the likelihood that it remains valid.

Not in the usual sense, but if exporters are advised to get a licence in response to a request for End-User Advice, they may well be deemed to have suspicions about end-use which would require them to apply for licences.

How does ECO provided End-User Advice relate to advice provided by HM Treasury in relation to financial sanctions

Advice provided by the Treasury in relation to financial sanctions is totally independent of the advice provided by the ECO in relation to export control related sanctions and end-users. You will however have to comply with all relevant sanctions that apply to your business.

How often are the Control Lists updated?

The international regimes are recognised international country forums who meet and discuss changes to the Control Lists throughout the year. Depending on the particular regime, this is generally achieved by plenary sessions once a year and additional working groups. Any resulting and agreed changes are fed into one major change to the Control Lists.

For more information about the Control Lists and to download the latest versions, see our guide on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists - the consolidated list of strategic military and dual-use items. 

Read about international non-proliferation and arms control regimes

To keep informed about changes to the Control Lists, you should subscribe to the ECO’s Notices to Exporters.

Further information

BIS ECO Helpline

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

Goods Checker on the ECO Checker Tools website (registration required)

OGEL Checker on the ECO Checker Tools website (registration required)

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