Licence types: FAQs

Answers to commonly asked questions about applying for and using the different types of licences for exporting controlled goods outside the UK.


If you are exporting controlled goods outside the UK, there are a number of different licences you can use, issued by the Export Control Organisation (ECO). These include:

This guide explains the answers to commonly asked questions about applying for and using these different types of licences. For more details about each licence type, please refer to the relevant guidance pages directly.

Open General Licences: FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about registering to use Open General Licences (OGLs).

How do I register for OGLs?

After logging into SPIRE, you need to select the option for ‘new application’ and then from the list of licensing types, select ‘OGL/EU GEA’. You will then see a drop down box from which you need to select the appropriate licence you need to register for.

Before registering you need to ensure that you can meet all of the licence terms and conditions. To check conditions you should use OGEL Checker on the ECO Checker tools website.

Do I have to wait for you to acknowledge my OGL registration before I can use the licence?

Ideally you should wait to receive an acknowledgement letter via your SPIRE workbasket confirming your registration since this will include the unique SPIRE reference number confirming your OGL registration, which you need to quote on any customs documentation, such as in Box 44 of the CHIEF declaration screens.

For an overview of registering for OGLs, see the page in the guide on registering for Open General Licences. You can also access further guidance about exactly how to register on SPIRE for an OGLDownload OGL registration guidance from the SPIRE website (DOC, 680K).,

Read more about compliance and enforcement of export controls

Is the EU General Export Authorisation an OGL?

An EU GEA is the European Union equivalent of an OGL. The EU currently publishes six EU GEAs. For more information see the guides on controls on dual-use goods and European Union General Export Authorisation (EU GEAa).

Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs): FAQs

This section answers common queries raised at export control seminars about SIELs.

Can SIELs be issued quicker than 20 working days?

Sometimes licences may be issued quicker but this will depend on the goods and the destination. Processing of licences for sanctioned or highly sensitive destinations is likely to take significantly longer than the standard 20 working day target. To determine the current licence processing timescales by destination you are advised to access the ECO Reports and Statistics website.

To improve your chances of a licence being issued within the target time or sooner, you need to ensure that your application includes full technical specifications and remember to attach appropriate end-user documentation. Any missing information or incomplete details will risk in ECO sending you a request for further information (RFI) via SPIRE with consequent delays in processing your application.

For more information, see the guides on submitting export licence applications correctly and the export control licensing process and how to appeal which includes details of ECO’s performance in meeting licence processing targets.

Can the quantity stated on a SIEL application be for more than is required at the time of the application?

Yes, but it must match the information provided in the EUU and it must be reasonable.

For further information, see the guide: end-user and stockist undertakings for SIELs and consignee undertakings for OIELs.

Can a licence be amended once it is issued?

Export licences are not transferable and may not be altered except by the ECO.

Some minor changes can be made by ECO in case of a change of company name or address. If either an exporter’s or consignee’s name and address change then you need to notify ECO.

Why have I received a No Licence Required (NLR) letter in response to my application?

If you definitely know your goods are not listed on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists, then you should only apply for a licence if you have concerns over the end user.

For more information, see the guides on Military End-Use Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction End-Use Control.

The ECO provides a service called the End-User Advice Service which is available via SPIRE. For more details please refer to guidance about strategic exports: when to request an export licence.

How long are NLR letters valid for?

There is no validity date given on NLR letters - they represent the opinion of ECO at the time they are given. However, they do expect exporters to keep up to date with changes to the legislation.

For more information, see the guide about the: UK Strategic Export Control List.

For regular news and updates about changes to export control licences and legislation, you should subscribe to the ECO’s Notices to Exporters.

Can the original SIEL be used to return items that have been sent back to repair?

Yes, provided there is sufficient quantity left on the licence. However, doing this may mean you cannot fulfil the original order if the licence becomes exhausted before you ship the quantity you originally intended. If the licence has been exhausted or the quantity remaining is insufficient, then no, you cannot use the original licence.

Ideally, you should consider the relevant repair Open General Export Licence (OGEL) - that may suit your purpose and if so you should use that licence. If not, and you need to use a SIEL, and you may have to think about applying for an additional SIEL to ensure you can fulfil the order after the first SIEL is exhausted.

For more information, see the guide on Dual-Use Open General Export Licences.

Open Individual Export Licences - FAQs

This section answers common queries raised at export control seminars about OIELs.

Under what circumstances will an OIEL be issued?

An OIEL is a concessionary form of licence, which are issued in certain circumstances. The ECO usually look for a minimum of 20 Standard Individual Export Licence applications per year. They will, however, also consider applications if there is a business case detailing why an OIEL is the most appropriate licence.

How long does it take to get an OIEL?

The ECO aims to process 60 per cent of OIEL applications within 60 working days. You should expect a timescale of three to six months for an OIEL to be issued.

Can an OIEL be amended to include additional goods or destinations?

No. You would need to apply for a new OIEL to incorporate both the existing and new goods and/or destinations. When the new OIEL has been re-issued, ECO will cancel the old one.

Can an OIEL application be made before all consignee or end-user details are known?

Yes. If you are applying for an OIEL then you are not required to obtain consignee or end-user details up front at the time of application. You will however need to obtain the details within a month of receiving the goods. You will need to keep and produce originals (not copies) of the required documentation for compliance audits. You will also need to ensure that the undertaking is not out of date when the shipment is made.

For further information, see the guide: end-user and stockist undertakings for SIELs and consignee undertakings for OIELs.

Further information

BIS ECO Helpline

020 7215 4594

Subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters

Contact details for the ECO on the BIS website

ECO Checker on the ECO Checker website (registration required)

Access quarterly licensing statistics on the ECO Reports and Statistics website

Published 11 September 2012
Last updated 17 December 2012 + show all updates
  1. Amended broken links and added related guides

  2. First published.