Controls on dual-use goods

Exports of dual-use goods controlled by EU Dual-Use Regulation are wide ranging, encompassing goods in the telecoms, avionics and security sectors.

This guidance was withdrawn on


Dual-use items are goods, software, technology, documents and diagrams which can be used for both civil and military applications. They can range from raw materials to components and complete systems, such as aluminium alloys, bearings, or lasers. They could also be items used in the production or development of military goods, such as machine tools, chemical manufacturing equipment and computers.

The main legal basis for controls on dual-use goods is the EU Dual-Use Regulation - also known as Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 (and associated legal amendments). This legislation is directly applicable in all EU countries, including the UK.

This guide explains what the controls on dual-use goods are, the legislation behind them and where you can find further help and advice on licensing.

Current regulations and amendments to controls on dual-use goods

The EU introduced legislation to control the exports of dual-use items and technology in 2000 with the EU Dual-Use Regulation - EC Regulation 1334/2000 (as amended).

In August 2009, the EU re-issued this regulation as Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009.

Regulation 428/2009 has also been further amended as explained below.

Regulatory Amendment to update EU Dual-Use List

Council Regulation (EU) No 388/2012 amends Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 and contains the latest version of the EU Dual-Use List of controlled items. This amending regulation was was published in the Official Journal of the EU (OJ L 129) on 16 May 2012 and the new version list has now come into force.

The EU Dual-Use List is also incorporated into the UK’s consolidated listing of controlled goods which is published as the UK Strategic Export Control Lists.

Regulatory Amendment to introduce new EU GEA licences

Council Regulation 1231/2011 of 8 December 2011 introduced several important changes:

  • modification to the pre-existing EU001 authorisation (previously known as the Community General Export Authorisation) with clarification that Liechtenstein is also covered by the authorisation. 
  • introduction of five new EU General Authorisations (EU GEAs).
  • new measures to increase transparency and improve enforcement including psossibility to prohibit certain exporters from using EU GEAs.

The EU GEAs are also listed in Annex II of Regulation 428/2009 (consolidated text).

For guidance on correct use of EU GEA licences when exporting certain dual-use goods to non-EU destinations, see the guide on the EU General Export Authorisations (EU GEAs).

Updates about changes to the Regulation

The EU Dual-Use Regulation is usually updated on an annual basis to reflect controls on new items or to de-control certain items, following agreement in international control regimes.

To keep updated with any changes to the Regulation (and associated amendments to the UK Strategic Export Control Lists or other legislative and licensing updates), you are advised to subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters.

What the controls on dual-use goods cover

Dual-use goods are controlled through both EU and national legislation.

EU dual-use Regulation

Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009, as amended, sets out the scope, authorisations (including brokering), control measures, customs procedures and other measures concerning the control of Dual-Use goods across the EU.

The legislation also comprises a number of annexes, including:

  • Annex I - this is also known as the EU Dual-Use List. It forms part of the UK Strategic Export Control Lists (see below) and is a listing of Dual-Use products subject to export controls.
  • Annex II - the EU General Export Authorisations (EU GEAs) which licence certain specified Dual-Use Items to certain destinations. See the guide on the EU General Export Authorisations(EU GEAs).
  • Annex III - authorisations.
  • Annex IV - list of the most critical dual-use products which are subject to the strictest controls.

UK national controls on dual-use goods

In addition to dual-use goods controlled by the EU Dual-Use Regulation, there are a small number of dual-use items which are controlled by UK legislation. These are listed in the UK Dual-Use List which is part of the UK Strategic Export Control Lists (or Schedule 3 of the Export Control Order 2008).

Trade controls on dual-use goods

You will also need a licence if you are involved in the brokering (trade) of dual-use items.

The control lists

If your goods are controlled, then they will be listed on one of the UK Strategic Export Control Lists.

The types of dual-use goods listed (and hence controlled) are wide ranging, encompassing goods in the telecoms, avionics and security sectors.

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
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

  • 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:
  1. alloys more than 25% nickel and 20% chromium by weight
  2. fluoropolymers
  3. glass or vitrified enamel lining

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

If the product you want to export is listed (has a control entry ‘rating’ number) on the Control Lists, you will need to apply for a licence.

Further information on licensing of dual-use items

To answer the question of whether you need a licence you need to be mindful of a number of issues and questions.

Are your goods listed on a Control List?

First you need to check if the items are listed (ie referenced under a control entry or ‘rating’ on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists).

You will need to apply for an export licence for Dual-Use Items which meet the defined performance characteristics detailed in Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 or for Dual-Use goods covered by the UK Dual-Use List.

Further information about the Control Lists is provided in the guide on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists - the consolidated list of strategic military and dual-use items.

For more help read the guide on strategic exports: when to request an export licence.

Are you exporting dual-use items to the EU or further afield?

Depending on which section of the EU Dual-Use List the item is referenced, the licensing requirements vary as follows:

  • if the items are listed on Annex I and you are exporting to the EU then no licence is required BUT you (the exporter) must state on export documents that the items require a licence if exported outside the EU. You must also keep appropriate records.
  • if the goods are listed on Annex I and exported outside the EU then you need to apply for a licence.
  • if the goods are listed on both Annex I and Annex IV then you also need to apply for a licence for all destinations (both EU and non-EU).

Be aware of sanctioned destinations

You should also be aware of the countries where an arms embargo is in force. These are liable to change occasionally as they are dependent on international events. For more information see the guide on current arms embargoes and other restrictions.

You will also need a licence if you are involved in the brokering (trade) of dual-use items.

Which licence can I apply for?

The Export Control Organisation (ECO) issues various categories or types of licences. These are broadly:

  • Open General Licences - pre-published fixed framework licences designed for licensing controlled goods that are being exported to less restricted destinations or are of a less restricted nature. The ECO publishes over 50 OGLs which include a number covering the export of specified Dual-Use Items. The EU has also issued six EU General Export Authorisations (EU GEAs) for Dual-Use Items. Using an OGL or EU GEA correctly can potentially save you time and money in exporting legally. You are strongly advised to check their terms and conditions before applying for other ECO issued licences.
  • Standard Individual Export Licences (SIEL) - permit the export of specific items to specific destination and to a stated consignee or end-user.
  • Open Individual Export Licences (OIEL) - a concessionary licence that permits multiple shipments of specific goods to multiple destinations.

Find out more about which licence type you should apply or register for in our guidance on licences: export, trade control and transhipment.

How do I apply for a licence?

You can apply for an export licence using SPIRE..

To check if you might be able to export under authority of either an OGL or EU GEA, you are recommended to use the OGEL Checker on the Checker Tools website (registration required).

Further information

BIS ECO Helpline

020 7215 4594

Subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters

Contact details for the ECO on the BIS website

Download Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 from the Europa website (PDF, 4.32MB)

Download Council Regulation (EU) No 1232/2011 from the Europa website (PDF, 814K)

Download Council Regulation (EU) No 388/2012 from the Europa website (PDF, 2.55MB)

Information on dual-use controls on the Europa website

Goods Checker on the ECO Checker website

Published 12 September 2012