Research collaboration and export controls

Researchers who collaborate with peers based outside the UK should be aware that some aspects of their work may be subject to export controls and that a licence may be needed to carry out certain activities.

Export controls can seem distant from research at the University because the scope of the rules appear limited: UK export controls restrict the export of goods or technology with the aim of preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and countering terrorism.

However, the controls apply to items which have both a military and civil application ('dual use' items), such as chemical agents, telecommunications equipment, or micro-organisms. The controls also apply to the transfer of data, software, technology, or know how, by any means (including by email and telephone) where the knowledge has a dual use.

Where an export falls under the controls, a licence is required before any transfer, of goods or information, can be made.

There is no automatic exemption for academics and researchers. Failure to obtain an appropriate licence to export controlled goods is a criminal offence. 

The Export controls page provides further, straightforward guidance on research collaboration and export controls. Alternatively, if you would like help in working through export control requirements, please contact: Research Services,, 01865 289839, or the ECO Helpdesk., 020 7215 4594.

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