SPIRE: an overview
How to register on and use SPIRE, the online system for applying for an export licence for military or dual-use products.
SPIRE is the Export Control Organisation’s (ECO fully electronic system for processing strategic export licence applications. From September 2007, it replaced all previous methods of applying for licences processed by the ECO within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). It is the main system that exporters need to use to apply or register for an export licence for military or dual-use products.
SPIRE is a bespoke database. It was designed to provide a single end-to-end licensing system. This includes an automatic link to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) via the Automatic Licence Verification (ALV) process. It also replaced the previous system of paper licences with new electronic licences, resulting in efficiency and administration savings.
This guide explains briefly how SPIRE works, and where you can find further information on using your SPIRE account.
Background information about the SPIRE system
SPIRE allows you to:
- apply for licences online
- complete an application form over a number of sessions, as required
- access previous applications and information, using this in new application forms
- automatically validate your application as part of the process
- track how your application is progressing at every stage
The benefits of SPIRE are as follows:
- the system interfaces directly with HMRC’s export system (CHIEF) with automatic decrementing of licences and verification at the UK border via the Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number
- the licence application and any supporting documentation are sent electronically to the BIS over a highly secure link
- processing will take place within BIS and other government departments using SPIRE
- approved licences are issued in the form of digitally signed electronic licences - the master copy will be held by BIS, and a copy by HMRC
How to use SPIRE
To use SPIRE, you need to create a company account and log-in details. Download information on creating a company registration in SPIRE (PDF, 2.76MB).
You can access a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions which include questions about applying for a licence and about SPIRE. Download the most common queries about SPIRE (PDF, 112KB). If you are already using SPIRE, download FAQs about SPIRE (PDF, 264KB).
If you want to use SPIRE to apply for an Open General Export Licence (OGEL), you will need to register separately for this. Download guidance on registering to apply for an OGEL (PDF, 1.21MB).
You may have difficulty using SPIRE if your web browser does not allow pop-ups. Download guidance on enabling pop-ups in SPIRE (PDF, 550K).
You can also download guidance on the steps that you need to take to validate a signature on a digitally signed document (PDF, 217K).
To get the most out of your SPIRE account, you can download account use information (PDF, 79K).
If you have more queries about using SPIRE, contact the ECO directly.
If you have a question about your specific licence application, you can contact the Licensing Case Officer responsible for dealing with your case.
BIS ECO Helpline
020 7215 4594