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Do I need an export licence?

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Do I need an export licence?

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Which exports are controlled and therefore require a licence, how to apply and what compliance responsibilities you'll have.

Introduction

Whether you are a new exporter investigating the possibility of exporting strategic goods, an overseas end-user, an academic or researcher affected by export controls or a non-governmental organisation or legal firm seeking more information, this guide will give you an overview of UK export controls.

Why export controls?

There are several reasons why governments aim to control the export of goods, depending on the nature and destinations of the proposed export. The export of strategic goods and technology is the specific remit of the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU). Exports are controlled for various reasons, including:

  • concerns about internal repression, regional instability or other human rights violations
  • concerns about the development of weapons of mass destruction
  • foreign policy and international treaty commitments including as a result of the imposition of EU or United Nations trade sanctions or arms embargoes
  • national and collective security of the UK and its allies

Export controls are not unique to the UK. All countries should have some form of an export control policy, legislation and enforcement mechanisms. The UK has a well developed and coherent export control system based on EU and national legislation.

Do I need a licence?

Whether or not you need an export licence for your goods will be determined by 4 factors, the:

  • nature of the goods due to be exported
  • destination concerned
  • ultimate end use of the goods
  • licensability of trade activities

Nature of goods

The following checklist outlines the broad categories of goods which are likely to be controlled:

  • most items that have been specially designed or modified for military use and their components
  • dual-use items - those that can be used for civil or military purposes - which meet certain specified technical standards and some of their components
  • associated technology and software
  • goods that might be used for torture
  • radioactive sources

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