Embargoes and sanctions on Eritrea

Embargoes on Eritrea, and how to apply for an export licence.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This is because EU-imposed sanctions on Eritrea were removed on 10 December 2018 following the lifting of the UN arms embargo on Eritrea.

Find out more about sanctions, embargoes and restrictions.


This guide contains information about embargoes and sanctions on Eritrea, and provides information for exporters. You can find more general information here on sanctions, embargoes and restrictions, and a list of all the countries where there are current restrictions.

Almost all governments control the export of goods for different reasons, depending on the nature and destinations of the proposed exports. The export of strategic goods and technologies are controlled for various reasons including:

  • concerns about a country’s internal repression of its citizens, regional instability and other human rights violations
  • concerns about the development of weapons of mass destruction
  • foreign policy and international treaty commitments, such as the imposition of European Union (EU) or United Nations (UN) trade sanctions or arms embargoes
  • concerns for the national and collective security of the UK and its allies

An arms embargo is in force on Eritrea. This is both a UN and EU imposed embargo. The sanctions are directly applicable in UK law.

In addition, there is also a travel ban and asset freeze imposed on listed individuals deemed a threat to peace and the national reconciliation process.

Export control updates

If you intend to export to Eritrea, you should keep yourself well informed of the current situation through the media and other information channels.

To keep informed of latest updates about arms embargoes and changes to strategic export control legislation, please subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters.

Extent of the arms embargo on Eritrea

An arms embargo is a ban on the export of ‘arms and related material’ (ie military ammunition, weapons and goods). This can be put in place by either the UN, the EU, Organisation on Security and Co-operation in Europe or at a UK national level.

The UK interprets an arms embargo as covering all goods and items on the UK Military List (which forms part of the UK Strategic Export Control Lists), unless stated otherwise.

Additionally, some goods which are not on the UK Military List might also need an export licence. For more information, see the guide on Military End-Use Control.

The specific measures adopted by the EU in the sanctions imposed on Eritrea comprise the following:

  • a prohibition on the procurement, sale or supply of arms and related material of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment and spare parts for the aforementioned
  • a prohibition on the supply and procurement of technical assitance, training, financial and other assistance related to military activities or the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of items referred to

The EU measures also specifically include provisions for cargo inspections.


In October 2012, the EU introduced an exemption to sanctions imposed on Eritrea whereby sanctions shall not apply to the:

  • provision of technical assistance, financing and financial assistance related to non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian purposes or protective use, as approved in advance by the sanctions committee
  • provision of technical assitance, financing and financial assistance related to protective clothing including flak jackets and military helmets, temporarily exported to Eritrea by United Nations personnel, representatives of the media and humanitarian and development workers and associated personnel for their personal use only.

Applying for an export licence to Eritrea

All applications will be considered by the government on a case-by-case basis in relation to the terms of the embargo and in line with the provisions of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. Read the guide on assessment of export licence applications - criteria and policy.

Export licences will not be issued unless they fit one of the exemptions set out in the embargo, such as export for humanitarian use or for use of United Nations personnel.

For details on different export licences available see the guide on licences - export, trade control and transhipment.

When applying for a licence, you should be aware of the current licence processing times by destination. You can view details of licensing statistics on the ECO Reports and Statistics website. 

In applying and using any licence, exporters should be aware of their responsibilities. For more information, see the guide on compliance and enforcement of export controls.

If you are unsure if your goods are controlled, you should read the guide about strategic exports: when to request an export licence.

Eritrea arms embargo key legislation

The arms embargo on Eritrea has been imposed by UN resolutions and EU laws, and implemented in the UK by statutory instruments.

UN Security Council Resolutions

UN Security Council Resolution 1907 was adopted by the Security Council on 23 December 2009. These sanctions included an open-ended embargo on the supply of arms and military equipment to and from Eritrea. The sanctions were imposed in response to the findings of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia that Eritrea had provided political, financial and logistical support to armed groups in Somalia. They were also in response to the refusal by Eritrea to withdraw its forces from disputed border territory with Djibouti and engage in dialogue.

You can access Security Council Resolutions on the UN website.

EU legislation

Following the adoption of the UN arms embargo on Eritrea, the European Union adopted Council Decision 2010/127/CFSP on 1 March 2010 and Council Regulation (EU) No 667/2010. These measures were subsequently amended in 2010 by Council Decision 2010/414/CFSP.

On 15 October 2012, the EU adopted further restrictive measures against Eritrea via Council Decision 2012/632/CFSP The Decision came into force on the date of publication in the EU Official Journal on 16 October 2012. At the same time, the EU also adopted implementing which also came into force on 16 October 2012. This measure is Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 942/2012 of 15 October 2012. These measures introduced an exemption to sanctions measures, as outlined above.

You can find the latest updates to EU legislation on the European Commission website.

UK legislation

The relevant UK laws that apply to the arms embargo on Eritrea are the:

For more information, see the guide on the Export Control Order 2008.

Financial sanctions

Eritrea is currently subject to financial sanctions.

You can view a current list of asset freeze targets designated by the United Nations (UN), European Union and United Kingdom, under legislation relating to Eritrea.

Further information

BIS ECO Helpline

020 7215 4594 or Email:

Subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters

Security Council resolutions on the UN website

Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) legislation on the Europa website

Country profiles on the UK Trade & Investment website

ECO performance reports and statistics on the ECO Reports and Statistics website

Updates to this page

Published 13 August 2012
Last updated 4 June 2013 + show all updates
  1. Included links to financial sanctions content on GOV.UK.

  2. First published.

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