End-user and stockist undertakings for SIELs and consignee undertakings for OIELs
Required supporting documents which need to be completed by end-users when applying for a strategic export licence.
Accurate completion of undertaking forms
When applying for an export licence from the Export Control Organisation (ECO), one of the most important elements is to ensure that you have attached an accurate and correct undertaking form (completed by the end-user company) along with all your submitted export details.
One of the most common errors in applications received by the ECO is an incorrect or missing undertaking which can cause frustrating delays with your application.
Correct completion of the undertakings needs to be taken seriously by your company. It is also vital that you have a good understanding of how they affect your business operations and licence application.
The purpose of a completed undertaking for export control purposes is to guard against the risk of UK exports being diverted or re-exported to ‘undesirable’ end-users. This diversionary risk is among those identified in the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, which sets out the factors to be considered in all case-by-case assessments for applications of strategic (military or dual-use) items. See guidance about Assessment of export licence applications: criteria and policy.
The government believes the best way of minimising the risk of diversion is a thorough risk assessment at the licensing stage. This process includes careful examination by ECO of information about the proposed end-use and end-user of the proposed export.
As an export licence applicant, you have an important part to play in ensuring that your end-user completes the relevant undertaking as required by ECO and that you take care in attaching the relevant undertaking to any licence application.
This guide advises you on the relevant undertakings that ECO publish. It also offers guidance to exporters and end-users or consignees on completing the relevant template form.
Undertakings required for SIEL and SITCL applications
When is this undertaking required?
An undertaking is required when applying for a standard individual export licence (SIEL) or standard individual trade control licence (SITCL) issued by the UK’s Export Control Organisation (ECO), part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
It is part of the supporting documentation for end-use control purposes which needs to be provided when submitting an export licence application via SPIRE to the ECO. Read guidance about the military end-use control and weapons of mass destruction: end-use control.
What undertakings are available?
There are two types of undertaking forms available. Which one you - the exporter - opt to obtain in support of an application depends on how the intended exports will be used.
If goods are being exported (whether via a consignee or not):
- for their end-use or if an end-user is incorporating the goods (ie installing them into another product or higher level system) - then you should obtain an end user undertaking (EUU) form. Download an EUU form and covering letter template.
- to be held in stock for future delivery or re-sale - then you should obtain a Stockist Undertaking (SU) Form. Download an SU form and covering letter template.
Who should complete the relevant form?
The end-user or stockist end-user should be advised to complete the relevant version of these forms together with a covering letter (on original official headed paper of the overseas company).
It is the exporter’s responsibility to ensure that all sections of the correct undertaking and covering letter are completed legibly, in English and signed by an appropriate responsible official. They should also attach a copy of the undertaking to attach to the licence application on SPIRE and retain the original in their records.
ECO reserves the right to require an exporter to produce the original document, if necessary. They would expect to make such requests on rare occasions only.
However, if you are specifically asked to provide the original undertaking during the course of the export licence application process, then you should be aware that ECO will not issue a licence if you fail to provide the original document.
Further guidance and advice in completing the forms
What is a template undertaking form is not used by the end-user?
If the end-user or stockist end-user chooses not to use the template forms issued by ECO, you should advise them that the UK authorities require an original (not ‘digital’) signed and dated undertaking in English on their headed paper (where the end-user is a company or a legal entity).
This document needs to provide the same information and assurances as specified in the relevant forms published by ECO.
If an undertaking form is completed by an individual (as opposed to a company) this does not need to be on headed paper.
See also guidance on situations where you are unable to obtain an undertaking from the overseas company (questions eight and nine) in frequently asked questions on undertakings.
Exceptions (occasions when an undertaking is not required)
In general an application for a SIEL licence for temporary export will not need an EUU. Every other SIEL application needs to be accompanied by some documentation from the end-User country. In almost all cases this will be a relevant undertaking template. However, in certain circumstances, the following alternatives may be accepted:
- if the foreign buyer is a government body, then any or all of the following may be accepted in lieu of an EUU - either a purchase order, a copy of relevant pages from the contract or an international import certificate
- when applying for an export licence for small arms export, then a prior import consent (PIC) is required from the appropriate European Union member state (in lieu of an EUU).
Undertakings required for OIEL applications
All open individual export licence (OIEL) applications require a consignee undertaking in accordance with licence conditions.
This document must be obtained in advance from the end user and submitted along with other supporting documentation via the SPIRE export licensing system.
The undertaking should confirm the nature of the goods ordered by the consignee and what they will be used for. Consignees are also asked to confirm that the goods won’t be used for purposes associated with weapons of mass destruction.
The OIEL consignee undertaking should be completed by the organisation or company to whom the goods are being sent, confirming that the end use of the items match the OIEL conditions.
Undertakings required for open general licences
As a result, in most circumstances, there is no upfront requirement to obtain an undertaking.
OGL holders are required however to adhere to all the specified terms and conditions. This includes keeping certain records as required by the licence for the controlled goods and technology being exported. For more information see the guidance about compliance and enforcement of export controls.
If you hold the open general export licence (Military Goods) there is a specific condition to demonstrate ‘permitted use’. For this purpose, ECO have issued a template undertaking for this particular licence. For more information see the page about Military goods open general export licences.
End-user certificate required for chemicals listed in schedule 3 (Chemical Weapons Convention)
When is this certificate required?
An end-user certificate (EUC) is required when applying for a standard individual export licence (SIEL) to export chemicals listed in schedule 3 of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to any country that has not ratified the convention (states not party).
The EUC form is part of the supporting documentation for end-use control purposes which needs to be provided when submitting an export licence application for such items via SPIRE to the ECO. Read guidance about the military end-use control and weapons of mass destruction end-use control.
A list of countries that have ratified the CWC is available from the UK CWC National Authority (NCLU) on Tel 0300 068 5939. You can also find a list of countries in the CWC on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) website.
Who should complete the EUC?
The end-user should be advised to use this EUC format for schedule 3 chemicals.
If they choose not to use this published template, you should advise them that the UK authorities require an original signed and dated undertaking in English on their headed paper (where the end-user is a company or a legal entity) which provides the same information and assurances as specified in the relevant version. This document should also include an ‘original’ signature (not a ‘digital’ signature) and should be stamped by a government department or ministry within the recipient country.
What is the role of the UK exporter?
It is the exporter’s responsibility to ensure that the all sections of the correct certificate and covering letter are completed legibly, in English and signed by an appropriate responsible official. They should also attach a copy of the undertaking to attach to the licence application and retain the original in their records.
Re-export declaration clause on EUU and SU templates
In accordance with the UK Government’s commitment to uphold arms embargoes, the Export Control Organisation (ECO) requires that end-users and stockist end-users declare on the relevant undertaking template that they will not re-export or otherwise transfer goods where to do so would be in breach of an embargo.
There is also a requirement when completing the stockist undertaking (SU) template to adhere to the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) clause. This specific clause is included to guard against exports, which are held in stock, being diverted to undesirable end users in the future.
1. What do you mean by ‘embargo’ and where can I find a list of applicable embargoes?
By ‘embargo’ we mean a restriction on trade with the target country in arms and military equipment and other specified items imposed by either the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) or Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
The UK is legally obliged or has made a political commitment to uphold and enforce these embargoes. An up-to-date list of embargoes can be found in the guide on current arms embargoes and other restrictions.
2. If I am exporting dual-use goods does my undertaking have to contain the ‘no re-export’ clause?
Yes. While most embargoes are arms embargoes, there are some which include dual-use goods, such as the Iran sanctions. Some embargoes also include dual-use goods which might be used for internal repression. It is also not possible to predict what emabargoes will be imposed in the future and what they might cover.
3. What if the goods are to be re-exported to an embargoed destination in support of a peace-keeping or humanitarian mission?
The ECO asks for a declaration that the goods will not be re-exported where to do so would be a breach of an embargo. Embargoes often contain exemptions that permit exports of military equipment in certain circumstances, such as in support of peace-keeping operations or international missions or for use by humanitarian or media organisations and in some cases for supply to legitimate government end-users. If the re-export is for a purpose permitted under the embargo in question, and is made within the terms of the embargo, then clearly this is not a breach and so the declaration is still valid. If you are in any doubt as to whether the re-export would contravene an embargo, you should seek advice from the ECO.
4. Does the end-user have to ask the UK government’s permission if they want to re-export the goods to an embargoed destination?
No. This is not a re-export control where end-users must seek the UK government’s permission if they wish to re-export the goods. The ECO is asking that end-users make a declaration that they will respect the terms of those embargoes to which the UK is legally or politically bound by not re-exporting UK supplied goods where to do so would be in breach of the embargo.
5. If the goods are subsequently re-exported in breach of an arms embargo, will I be held responsible?
You will not be held responsible for the actions of your customers. If however you had any involvement in the breach you may be liable to prosecution or other appropriate remedial action. The ECO may also take into account regarding re-exports to embargoed destinations in any subsequent licensing assessments.
6. Does ‘re-export’ include situations where the goods are incorporated in some other item and that other item is subsequently exported?
No. In this context ‘re-export’ refers to the subsequent export from the initial destination country of the goods that you exported, in the form that you exported them. Where goods are to be incorporated into another item (eg as components) and that other item is subsequently exported, or the goods are to be subject to further processing in the end-user country before subsequent export, then that is not considered to be a ‘re-export’. However, in these cases you must provide the ECO with details (so far as they are known) of the final recipient of the goods. This information should be provided in the ‘third party’ section of the licence application.
Frequently asked questions about Undertakings
1. What is an EUU and why is it required?
This is a document completed by the end user or stockist end-user which details who they are, where they are based and for what purpose they are using the goods. There are different forms which are relevant for either standard individual export licence (SIEL), standard individual trade control licence (SITCL) or open individual export licence (OIEL) applications.
When applying for a SIEL, the exporter needs to attach either an end-user undertaking (EUU) or stockist end-user undertaking (SU) form to the application submitted via SPIRE, ECO’s export licensing database.
When applying for a SIEL to export chemicals listed under schedule 3 of the Chemical Weapons Convention then an end-user certificate (EUC) is required.
When applying for an OIEL, a consignee undertaking is required.
2. Who should complete and sign an undertaking?
The undertaking should be completed and signed by a person properly authorised by the end-user or stockist end-user to sign on their behalf (the responsible official).
In the case of an EUC used for chemical exports, then the undertaking needs to be stamped by a recognised foreign government department or ministry within the recipient country.
3. Does the end user have to complete the EUU form in English?
Each undertaking (eg EUU, SU, EUC), official purchase order, or copy of the relevant part of the contract covering the order, must be written in English. Alternatively, if written in a foreign language, the document must be accompanied by an English translation. Every English translation must be verified by the proprietor of the business applying for a licence, or a partner, director or company secretary of the firm, or anyone authorised to sign the licence application. Alternatively, if you prefer, translations may be verified by a member of the Institute of Translators or a Notary Public.
4. How should the end user authenticate the undertaking form?
It is the exporter’s responsibility to obtain an original form from their end user or stockist end-user as appropriate. Each page of that form must contain an original signature and be dated. With each completed form, the end user or stockist end-user must provide a covering letter on their headed stationery. The letter must be signed and dated by the same signatory who has completed and signed the form.
5. When should the end user complete the undertaking form?
You (the UK exporter) should send a copy of the completed form with your licence application on SPIRE. If you obtain the undertaking before you are ready to submit your application, we will normally accept undertakings as valide within six months of the date of the application.
6. We supply to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who incorporate our products into their own which they then sell to their own customers. Who is the end user in this case?
The end-user is the entity that uses or processes goods in some way. If you supply to OEMs then they should complete the EUU form.
You are advised to download the export scenarios.
7. We sell to a distributor. At time of export we have no way of knowing who they will sell to or what the goods will be used for. Who is the end user in this case?
The stockist undertaking (SU) is completed by the distributor (as stockist). If the ultimate end user is known at the time of export, then the Export Control Organisation (ECO) needs to know and an end user undertaking (EUU) should be completed.
8. Sometimes we are unable to obtain an undertaking from our end user. What should we do?
The ECO asks exporters to provide as much detail as possible, and they also encourage exporters to set up appropriate contracts with suppliers - as they are your goods, how do you protect your business from sales you wouldn’t want to be involved in? If the agent sites commercial reasons for not providing an undertaking, they would accept them directly from the agent.
You need to perform due diligence. If an end user is unable to provide an undertaking then this might be a reason to be suspicious about the transaction.
9. Can the ECO accept any other documents instead of an undertaking?
The ECO would advise you to complete the relevant template form, but in some cases they will accept other documents - for instance if you are completing a government purchase or contract. If you provide documents other than an undertaking then you need to include the same information as requested on the template undertaking form.
10. How long are consignee undertakings (for OIELs) valid for?
Undertakings are valid for one year. Note that they must be obtained in advance.
BIS ECO Helpline 020 7215 4594 or email: email@example.com
UK CWC National Authority (NCLU)
0300 068 5939
Subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters.
Published: 10 September 2012
Updated: 21 September 2012
- Changed document size from 'K' to 'KB'
- First published.
Related guides: Assessment of export licence applications: criteria and policy Supplementary Weapons of Mass Destruction End-Use controls Making better licence applications Open Individual Export Licences Firearms and export control forms Do I need an export licence? Compliance and enforcement of export controls Military End-Use Control Licence types: FAQs