Extraterritorial Trade Controls
UK Trade Controls apply to any UK person, anywhere in the world, when they are involved in the supply or delivery of controlled military goods.
The UK Trade Controls apply to the trading of military goods between one overseas country and another (commonly referred to as ‘trafficking and brokering’). A wide range of activities linked to the trading activity are caught by the controls and require a licence. The activities controlled vary according to the category of the goods concerned and whether movement is to an embargoed destination.
In some cases the controls apply to any UK person overseas who is trading in controlled military goods, and it is this extraterritorial element of the trade controls that this guidance note refers to.
This guide only deals with the controls in the Export Control Order 2008. There are even broader controls in various sanctions regimes and the legislation implementing them in the UK (including controls on movement of goods from the country subject to the sanctions).
What is meant by a ‘UK Person’?
The term ‘United Kingdom person’ is defined as a UK national, a Scottish partnership or a body incorporated under the law of any part of the UK. A UK national is an individual who is:
- a British Citizen, a British overseas territories citizen, a British National (Overseas) or a British Overseas Citizen
- a person who under the British Nationality Act 1981 is a British subject
- a British protected person within the meaning of that Act
The controls extend to all persons holding British nationality and not just to British citizens or to those with the right of abode in the UK.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is the government department responsible for enforcing UK immigration and customs regulations and provides further information about nationality, including eligibility criteria. Find out about British citizenship on the UKBA website.
Individuals who are unsure of their nationality status should contact UKBA or seek independent legal advice.
Goods subject to Trade Controls
With the exception of software (categorised as ‘ML21’) and technology (categorised as ‘ML22’), all goods included on the UK Military and Torture Lists are subject to the Trade Controls.
The UK Military List forms a part of the UK Strategic Export Control Lists. This listing includes military, security and paramilitary goods, software and technology, arms, ammunition and related material.
If you are unsure whether your goods are listed on the Control Lists or controlled on as a result of end-use concerns, you can read the guide on strategic exports: when to request an export licence.
For the purposes of the Trade Controls, goods on the UK Military List are categorised within a 3-tiered risk based structure, as follows:
- Category A - goods of greatest concern, where trade is inherently undesirable, such as torture equipment and cluster munitions
- Category B - goods of heightened concern, but in which there is legitimate trade, such as small arms and light weapons, long range missiles (including unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) and Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS)
- Category C - all other items on the UK Military List that do not fall under categories A or B plus portable devices for the purpose of riot control or self-protection by the administration or dissemination of an incapacitating chemical substance and certain riot control agents
For more details on the scope of each category, read the guide on trafficking and brokering (trade controls).
Additional guidance is also available in the guides on controls on torture goods and export licensing of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS).
Depending on the circumstances of your particular export and the categorisation of your goods, you need to apply for an appropriate licence from the Export Control Organisation (ECO).
Activities and exemptions applicable to Trade Controls
Trade controlled activities
Extraterritorial controls apply to any UK person anywhere in the world who is directly or indirectly involved in the supply or delivery, including agreeing to or any act calculated to promote the supply or delivery, of either:
- any goods on the UK Military List (Categories A, B and C) from one overseas country to an embargoed destination - see the guide to current arms embargoes and other restrictions, which provide about the destinations subject to embargoes as listed in Parts 1 and 2 of Schedule 4 of the Export Control Order 2008.
- or, any goods in Categories A or B from one overseas country to another overseas country - see the exemptions detailed for Category B below.
These controls apply regardless of whether the UK person is working overseas for a UK company, for a foreign company, or acting on their own behalf.
Exemptions only apply to trade between non-embargoed destinations and to Category B goods.
In these specific circumstances the following activities are not controlled:
- sole involvement (ie in isolation from any other involvement in controlled trading activities) in general advertising and promotion - for example, trade fair activity and the placing or acceptance of advertisements in trade publications would not be controlled
- the sole provision (in isolation from any other involvement in controlled trading activities) of finance or financial services, insurance or reinsurance services
- in certain circumstances, the sole provision (in isolation from any other involvement in controlled trading activities) of transportation services - but if you arrange the transportation of goods or, in response to instructions from someone who is outside the scope of the Trade Controls, actually transport them, you will still need a licence.
- contract promotion activity that is carried out for free or in return for a wage or salary which does not constitute a direct involvement in negotiating or arranging a contract
Apply or register for a Trade Control Licence
You should apply or register for one of the following Trade Control Licences if you think Trade Controls apply to you:
- Standard Individual Trade Control Licence (SITCL)
- Open Individual Trade Control Licence (OITCL)
- Open General Trade Control Licence (OGTCL) for the movement of Category C goods
- Open General Trade Control Licence (OGTCL) for small arms and light weapons
For more information about the different licence types, see the guide on Trade Control Licences for brokering.
Applications and registrations should be made through SPIRE, the ECO’s fully electronic web-based processing system.
Please note that the issuing of a UK Trade Control licence does not negate the need to obtain permission of the authorities of the appropriate countries to remove or receive goods from or to that territory as necessary.
You should remember that it is a criminal offence to engage in controlled activities without a licence. Failure to comply can lead to a fine and maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
BIS ECO Helpline
020 7215 4594
Published: 7 September 2012
Related guides: Trade controls on military goods for trade fairs and exhibitions Overview of export control legislation Current arms embargoes and other restrictions Trade Control Licences for brokering Open General Trade Control Licences Do I need an export licence? Brokering (trade) of dual-use items UK Strategic Export Control Lists Trade controls (trafficking and brokering) Controls on torture goods Assessment of export licence applications: criteria and policy Export licensing of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems