Exporting in support of UK government defence contracts

Goods in support of UK government defence contracts that require an export licence and use of the open general export licence (OGEL).


The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU), part of the Department for International Trade (DIT) is the UK regulatory authority responsible for assessing export licences for strategic goods which include military goods and a wide range of so-called dual-use goods (civilian goods with a military purpose).

Goods which require an export licence include those in support of UK government defence contracts.

This guide briefly explains about goods which fall into this category and use of the open general export licence (OGEL) in support of government defence contracts.

Advice on prior OGEL confirmation from the Ministry of Defence (MOD)

Goods which are exported or transferred in support of UK government defence contracts may be eligible for an OGEL.

If goods fall under this category, then they require prior written authorisation from the MOD’s Arms Control and Counter Proliferation (ACP) team.

If the goods are owned privately then exporters will require an export licence. Depending on the nature of the goods this might generally be either an OGEL or standard individual export licence (SIEL).

Applying to MOD for confirmation to use an OGEL

The ECJU has published a number of OGELs which cover goods which are subject to export controls.

The list of OGELs includes OGEL (Exports or Transfers in Support of UK Government Defence Contracts). This OGEL might be available for exporters who are supporting a UK defence contract.

As with all other OGELs, use of this licence depends on the exporter adhering to the specified terms and conditions detailed within the licence. In the case of this particular OGEL, you need to satisfy certain conditions, including prior written approval from the MOD confirming you are subject to an eligible UK government defence contract.

To confirm eligibility MOD will need the following information:

  • name of the programme involved
  • brief description of the goods concerned
  • contact details of the Commercial Manager in the respective Product Team at Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S)
  • extract of the contract from DE&S confirming your involvement in the programme (a single piece of paper is sufficient, not the whole contract)
  • duration of the contract with DE&S (or the prime contractor if you are a sub-contractor)
  • sub-contractors should ensure that they provide a letter of support from the prime contractor confirming their involvement in the specific programme. The prime contractor will also have to provide the extract of the contract with DE&S to the sub-contractor to confirm the link with DE&S

Once you have obtained the necessary approval, you can apply for an export licence using SPIRE.

As with other OGELs, holders of this licence need to keep accurate records. They are also subject to regular Compliance Audits conducted by ECJU’s Compliance Team. For more details see the guide on compliance visits explained. If you fail to meet the specified terms and conditions of this OGEL, you can apply for a SIEL. For more details about this type of licence see the guide on Standard Individual Export Licences.

Contact ECJU

ECJU can provide further guidance on export controls.


Export Control Joint Unit
Department for International Trade
Old Admiralty Building
Admiralty Place


Telephone 020 7215 4594

Contact for general queries about strategic export licensing.

Published 11 September 2012
Last updated 6 December 2012 + show all updates
  1. Amended broken links and added related guides

  2. First published.