Guidance

UK Strategic Export Control Lists

Find out about the lists that control exports, which goods are on the list, when you need to apply for a strategic export licence.

Overview

The UK Strategic Export Control Lists form the basis of determining whether any products, software or technology that you intend to export are ‘controlled’ and therefore require an export licence.

If your items are referenced on the Control Lists (ie listed under a Control List entry or ‘rating’) then you will need to apply for licence from the Export Control Organisation (ECO). The ECO is the UK Government’s regulatory authority for export licensing of strategic goods.

You should also note that if your goods are not listed on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists, that the ECO has the power to invoke ‘End-Use Controls’ if there are any specific concerns about military or weapons of mass destruction (WMD) end-use.

What are the UK Strategic Export Control Lists?

The UK Strategic Export Control Lists specify goods that need an export licence for ‘strategic’ purposes.

Download the UK Consolidated List of Strategic Military and Dual-Use Items that Require Export Authorisation.

Are my items listed on a Control List?

You can use the Checker Tools database, provided by the Export Control Organisation, to establish this. The Goods Checker helps to establish if your items are controlled and identify the appropriate control entry (‘rating’) reference from the UK Strategic Export Control Lists. If so, you will need to apply for an appropriate export licence. Search Tool available on the ECO’s SPIRE database. The OGEL Checker helps to identify if an appropriate Open General Export Licence (OGEL) exists.

The Control List Classification Advice Service is suspended until further notice. Please refer to Notice to Exporters 2014/16 for more information.

End-Use Controls

If your goods are not listed on the Control Lists, you may still need a licence under End-Use Controls. This applies if the goods are likely to be sent to an end-user where there are concerns that they might be used in a WMD programme.

How do I know whether my items are listed on a Control List? 

The Control Lists comprise a wide range of items - some of which will be fairly obvious such as guns and ammunition (military items) and others which are less so, such as a wide variety of dual-use items. If your items are listed, then they will be referenced on the list under a Control List entry or ‘rating’.

What are ‘dual-use items’? 

Dual-use Items are goods, software or technology (documents, diagrams etc) which can be used for both civil and military applications. They can range from raw materials to components to complete systems, eg aluminium alloys, bearings, or lasers. They could also be items used in the production or development of military goods or chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, eg machine tools, chemical/manufacturing equipment and computers.

The difference between the UK Trade Tariff and the UK Strategic Export Control Lists

It is an exporter’s responsibility to check whether your items require an export licence issued by the ECO. If you require a licence, you need to apply well in advance of shipment to avoid any potential problems (such as customs snagging at a port).

In doing this you should be aware of the differences between the UK Trade Tariff and the UK Strategic Export Control Lists.

The Tariff

The UK Trade Tariff is a three-volume guide that is designed to give exporters (and importers) information needed to dispatch and acquire goods traded worldwide and the rates of duty payable. The Tariff can be used in completing customs declarations.

Find commodity codes and other measures applying to imports and exports by accessing the online UK Trade Tariff tool.

However, in relation to classifying or ‘rating’ your goods for strategic export control purposes, the Tariff can only provide a broad indication of whether an export licence is required. For a clearer indication of whether your goods might need a licence you need to consult the UK Strategic Export Control Lists, explained below.

Where do the Control Lists originate?

Export Control legislation

The Control Lists are integral to the UK’s strategic export control legislation and should be read in conjunction with the appropriate articles and regulations. The legislation outlines how the Control Lists operate and are implemented.

International Regimes

The UK Strategic Export Control Lists are derived from various international commitments - including foreign policy, national defence and security interests.

They are compiled mostly from the work of various international export control and non-proliferation groups or regimes. One of the main roles of these bodies is to decide what goods should be controlled to meet their counter proliferation objectives. Subsequently, the agreements are incorporated into national country legislation, including in the UK.

Read about international non-proliferation and arms control regimes.

Updates to the Strategic Export Control Lists

The UK Strategic Export Control Lists are periodically updated - mostly every half year. The updates reflect:

  • new concerns (ie items added to the lists)
  • changes to the scope of the controls
  • small technical amendments
  • de-control measures (ie items removed from the controls and for which a licence is no longer required)

You should therefore be careful to ensure that you are:

  • aware of all recent updates to the lists
  • check the latest list versions
  • and take appropriate action to obtain a licence where necessary

No validity period for Control List status or ‘ratings’ advice

Whether or not you choose to self-rate or to seek advice from the ECO, you should be aware that there is no ‘rating’ validity period.

Past advice is out of date whenever the Control Lists change.

This does not mean that you need to request new advice every time the Control Lists change, since only specific parts of the list are updated. However, you should keep informed of changes and take appropriate action as a result.

Further information

ECO Helpline

E-mail: eco.help@trade.gsi.gov.uk or call 020 7215 4594.

OGEL and Goods Checker Tools

Published 3 August 2012
Last updated 23 February 2017 + show all updates
  1. Page edited to make the information more concise, also removed references to the UK military list as a separate publication (not published separately from February 2017.
  2. Amended broken links and added related guides
  3. First published.