Guidance explaining the export of controlled goods.
Controlled goods are regulated through a system of export licensing and include:
- military items
- dual-use items (items with both civil and military uses)
- items that can be used for torture or capital punishment
- goods subject to trade sanctions
The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) is responsible for the exporting control and licensing of these items.
This guidance explains changes for the export of strategic items from the UK at the end of the transition period.
Under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU regulations governing the movement of controlled goods still apply in Northern Ireland. This means there are some changes to how strategic items move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Find guidance on customs procedures that need to be completed when you move controlled goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Exporting military items
There are no changes to controls on the export of military items from the UK (including Great Britain and Northern Ireland) other than minor legislative fixes. This ensures the continued operability of the legislation.
You need to continue to apply for licences.
Open individual export licences (OIELs) for the export of military items from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to the EU is no longer restricted to 3 years. For export from Northern Ireland to the EU, OIELs continue being restricted to 3 years.
Where you are exporting to destinations covered by an arms embargo, you need to have reference to the relevant sanctions regulations under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.
Exporting firearms to the EU from Great Britain
In Great Britain, the European Firearms Pass is no longer available and it is no longer possible to take personal firearms to the EU using it.
The exemption that applies to the temporary export of firearms as personal effects to the rest of the world covers exports to the EU. You need to make sure that the destination country also permits the import and re-export of the firearm.
If you are a dealer or exporter of firearms, you need to continue to apply for licences. Dealer to Dealer open individual export licences (OIELs) are not valid for firearms moving from Great Britain to the EU. Dealers must apply for standard individual export licences (SIELs), but a simplified process applies to mitigate the burden on dealers.
Exporting firearms to the EU from Northern Ireland
Arrangements for transfers of civilian firearms under Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (commonly known as the Firearms Directive) apply to transfers between Northern Ireland and the EU.
In Northern Ireland, the European Firearms Pass is available and permits the taking of personal firearms from Northern Ireland to the EU.
Dealer to Dealer OIELs are still available and extant licences continue to be valid for firearms moving from Northern Ireland to the EU.
You require a licence to export civilian firearms from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
Exporting dual-use items
Dual-use items are controlled under the EU Dual-Use Regulation 428/2009. The overall framework of controls for dual-use exports has not changed, but there are changes to some licensing requirements. In Great Britain, the rules governing dual-use item exports are the retained EU Regulation. In Northern Ireland, EU rules governing dual-use item exports apply under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol (though there are no licensing requirements to move dual-use items from Northern Ireland to Great Britain).
Where you are exporting to destinations covered by sanctions on such items, you need to have reference to the relevant sanctions regulations under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.
From Great Britain to the EU and the Channel Islands
You need an export licence issued by the UK if you are exporting dual-use items from Great Britain to the EU or the Channel Islands.
ECJU has published the open general export licence (OGEL) for exports of dual-use items to EU member states from Great Britain. This licence also covers exports to the Channel Islands.
The new licence removes the need for Great Britain exporters to apply for individual licences and can be used by those who have registered to use the licence on SPIRE, the online export licensing system.
From Northern Ireland to the EU
There are no new licence requirements to export dual-use items from Northern Ireland to the EU. Controlled items that currently move licence-free to the EU do not require a licence to move between Northern Ireland and the EU.
From Northern Ireland to the Channel Islands and Isle of Man
You can use the open general export licence (export of dual-use items to EU member states) for the majority of controlled items exporting from Northern Ireland to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
From Great Britain to a non-EU country
If you already have an open general export licence (OGEL) or an individual export licence to export dual-use items to a non-EU country issued by the UK, it remains valid for export from Great Britain. Registrations made with the UK for the EU General Export Authorisations (GEAs) are automatically duplicated to become registrations for the retained GEAs and are still valid for exports from Great Britain.
An export licence issued by one of the 27 EU member states is no longer valid for export from Great Britain.
From Northern Ireland to a non-EU country
Open general export licences (OGELs) and individual export licences granted by the UK to export dual-use items to a non-EU country, remain valid for exports from Northern Ireland. For exports from Northern Ireland, the current registrations for the EU GEAs remain valid.
Licences granted by one of the 27 EU member states are no longer valid for export from Northern Ireland.
From the EU to a non-EU country
You need a new licence, issued by an EU member state, for exporting dual-use items from EU member states to a non-EU country.
An export licence issued in the UK will no longer be valid to export dual-use items from an EU member state.
From the EU to Great Britain
You need a licence, issued by an EU member state, for exporting dual-use items from EU member states to Great Britain. You should seek advice from the relevant EU member state licensing authority.
The European Council has proposed to add the UK as a permitted destination to Union General Export Authorisation (GEA) EU001, to minimise any additional licensing burden for those exporting dual-use items from the EU to the UK.
From the EU to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland applies the EU Dual-Use Regulation under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol. This means that no licence is required to export dual-use items (other than those in Annex IV of the EU Dual-Use Regulation) from the EU to Northern Ireland. You should seek advice from the relevant EU member state licensing authority.
From Great Britain to Northern Ireland
There is no licensing requirement to move dual-use items from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
From Northern Ireland to Great Britain
There is no licensing requirements to move dual-use items from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
Exporting civil nuclear material
If you export civil nuclear material, you can find out what other conditions apply besides export controls. They include:
Exporting goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment
Strict controls apply to the export of goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment. The overall framework of the strict controls on these goods has not changed. Exports to EU member states from Great Britain are treated in the same way as exports to non-EU destinations, that is, they will require a licence.
This means that Great Britain exporters are:
- prohibited from exporting items in Annex II of Council Regulation 2019/125 to any destination, including to EU member states
- prohibited from providing brokering, training or advertising services relating to items in Annex II of Regulation 2019/125 to any person or entity in an EU member state
- required to have a licence to export items in Annexes III and IV of Regulation 2019/125 to EU member states
Exports to EU member states from Northern Ireland do not require a licence (except in the specific circumstances).
You require a licence for goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. The EU GEA, set out in Annex V of Regulation (EU) 2019/125, can be used for the goods listed in Annex IV of the same regulation for this purpose.
The UK uses sanctions to fulfil a range of purposes, including supporting foreign policy and national security objectives, as well as maintaining international peace and security, and preventing terrorism. Sanctions measures can include arms embargoes and other trade restrictions.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is responsible for UK policy on sanctions. The Department for International Trade (DIT) implements trade sanctions, and has overall responsibility for trade sanctions licensing.
UK sanctions regimes apply under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act). These regimes apply to the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland.
The majority of existing sanctions licences issued by the UK continue to be valid under the new framework up until the end of the validity period stated on the licence.
Although the intent in drafting regulations under the Sanctions Act was to maintain substantially the same effect as the existing EU sanctions you should not assume that all aspects of EU sanctions have been replicated exactly. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are compliant with the requirements of the new legislation. You can access the new legislation and read the related guidance.
You can find out more about the UK sanctions policy after 31 December 2020.
Further guidance will be provided if there is change in any requirements.
What you can do next
- check if you need an export licence for exports to EU countries on OGEL and goods checker tools, using as a guide the licensing provisions in current legislation for a ‘third country’ (a non-EU country) to understand what controls would apply for exports to EU countries
- please note these tools only provide outcomes for Great Britain exports, as they use the current Strategic Export Control Lists. They do not provide outcomes for Northern Ireland exports.
- please note that the OGEL checker tool presents the retained GEAs from 1 January 2021. Any registrations for the EU GEAs have been duplicated to retained GEAs.
- refer to guidance links on OGEL and goods checker tools to apply for a licence
- remember, it is your responsibility to comply with the export control regulations, and breaching export controls is a criminal offence
- check new UK sanctions legislation and ensure you comply with its requirements, and read the sanctions regime guidance. Do not assume that all aspects of existing EU sanctions are exactly the same.
Sign up for updates on export controls and licensing.
For further information, you could:
- find out more about export controls and licensing
- find out how the government administers the UK’s system of export controls and licensing for military and dual-use items