Embargoes and sanctions on Libya

Information on embargoes on Libya and how to apply for an export licence.


This guide contains information about embargoes and sanctions on Libya, 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 Libya.

This page outlines relevant information about the arms embargo on Libya only.

Export control updates

If you intend to export to Libya, 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, read the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters. You can subscribe to receive an email alerting you to publication of the latest notice.

Extent of the arms embargo on Libya

An arms embargo is a ban on the export of ‘arms and related material’ - eg military ammunition, weapons and goods - imposed by either the UN, the EU, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or at a UK national level.

The UK generally 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.

Applying for an export licence to Libya

Exporters can apply for an export licence for their goods. All applications will be considered by the government on a case-by-case basis in line with the provisions of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

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. Read strategic export controls: licensing data. 

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.

Libya arms embargo key legislation

The arms embargo on Libya has been imposed by UN and EU laws, and implemented into UK legislation by statutory instruments.

UN Security Council Resolutions

In response to the violation of human rights in Libya, the UN Security Council made a unanimous decision to impose sanctions on the country in February 2011. The sanctions include an arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze on the family of Muammar Al-Qadhafi and certain government officials. The restrictive measures are imposed via Resolution 1970 (2011).

You can find copies of relevant UN Resolutions on the UN website.

EU legislation

Subsequent to the adoption of Resolution 1970, the EU has also imposed an arms embargo as outlined in Council Decision 2015/1333/CFSP. The details are provided in Council Regulation (EU) No 2016/44

You can read the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) legislation on the Europa website.

UK legislation

The relevant statutory instruments implemented in UK law are the:

For more information, see the guide to the Export Control Order 2008. You can download copies of UK legislative orders from the website.

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 Libya.

You are able to download specific forms for licence applications and prior notification and authorisation applications for Libya. Licences authorise certain activities or types of transaction that would otherwise be prohibited by asset freezing legislation.

Further Information

ECO Helpline

020 7215 4594 or Email:

Security Council resolutions on the UN website

Exporting country guides

Published 13 August 2012
Last updated 20 April 2017 + show all updates
  1. Link to EU council decision updated.
  2. Included links to financial sanctions content on GOV.UK
  3. First published.