Export Control Order 2008

Main UK legislative power to control trade and export licensing of military and dual-use goods

This guidance was withdrawn on

This page has been archived so that guidance is not duplicated on GOV.UK. Please use the guidance for exporters.

Overview of legislation on exporting controlled goods

The Export Control Order 2008 is the main Statutory Instrument secondary legislation, which controls the exports of military and dual-use goods. It consolidates and updates previous legislation in one legal document and provides details of how the legislation will be applied.

The Export Control Organisation (ECO) is responsible for maintaining, updating and implementing export control legislation which potentially affects any exporter of specified controlled goods.

This guide explains the controls on trade and exports introduced by the Order and how it has amended previous legislation on the subject. It also describes where you can find further information on export licensing.

What the Export Control Order covers

The Export Control Order 2008, as amended, is the main export legislation. It controls the:

  • export of strategic goods
  • transfer of technology and the provision of technical assistance
  • trade of military equipment between overseas countries where any part of the activity takes place in the UK
  • trade controls with destinations where an arms embargo has been imposed by the UK following European Union or Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe regulations or declarations

It also details any exemptions if applicable and the practicalities of record keeping requirements.

The Order includes a number of attached Schedules. These currently include:

  • Schedule 1 Part 1 - category A goods
  • Schedule 1 Part 2 - category B goods
  • Schedule 2 - the UK Military List
  • Schedule 3 - UK Controlled Dual-Use Goods, Software and Technology
  • Schedule 4 - Countries and Destinations subject to stricter export and trade controls

Category A and B goods are military items which are subject to stricter export and trade controls. For more information, see the guide on trafficking and brokering (Trade Controls).

The UK Military List and the UK Controlled Dual-Use Goods, Software and Technology List both comprise parts of the Control Lists. For more information, see the guide on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists.

The Countries and Destinations list is of embargoed destinations. For more information, see the guide on current arms embargoes and other restrictions.

You can read the text of the Export Control Order 2008 on the website.

The Order is subject to changes to reflect the addition or removal of controls or technical re-drafting of text.

Amendments made under the Export Control Order

The Export Control Order 2008 consolidates previous controls which are now summarised for historical purposes only.

The Order has subsequently been updated by a number of amending orders. For details and links to all amendments, see the guide on strategic export control legislation: amending orders and regulations

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

Further information on export licensing

Advisory Services

If you need further help in deciding if your goods need an export licence, you should first consult our guidance on strategic exports: when to request an export licence.

This guide provides advice on how to ‘self-rate’ your goods for export control purposes in relation to the UK Strategic Export Control Lists.These documents are listings of controlled goods. If your items are referenced by a ‘rating’ entry then you will need to apply for a licence.

If you can ‘self-rate’ you are recommended to do so. To help you in self-rating, the Export Control Organisation (ECO) provide:

  • the Control List Classification Search Tool (accessible via the ECO’s SPIRE export licensing database)  

The Control List Classification Advice Service is suspended until further notice. Please refer to Notice to Exporters 2014/16 for more information.

Alternatively, if you are still unsure of the classification of your goods on the Control Lists, you can make a Control List Classification Advice Service request using SPIRE.

If you already know the ‘rating’ or classification number of your goods, but have end-use concerns, then you can submit an End-User Advice request online via SPIRE.

Licence Applications

If the goods or destinations are controlled - either because the goods are listed on a Control List or because you have been ‘informed’ that ‘End-Use’ Controls apply - then you will need to apply for a licence. All licence applications are made via SPIRE.

Before making your application, you are recommended to read our guidance on submitting export licence applications correctly and export control licensing process and how to appeal, in order to ensure your complete your application accurately.  

Much more guidance available on this site, provides information about the different types of licences issued and specific aspects of the controls such as the export of technology, trafficking and brokering (trade controls) and sanctions restrictions.

You are advised to obtain your own legal advice where necessary and to ensure that you are referring to the latest version of the legislation.

Further information

BIS ECO Helpline

020 7215 4594

Goods Checker on the ECO Checker website (registration required)

Export Control Order full text on the website

Subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters

Contact details for the ECO on the BIS website

Published 10 September 2012
Last updated 12 December 2012 + show all updates
  1. Corrected broken links Typos, style

  2. First published.