Export control legislation
'Export' means the physical removal of goods or the transfer (by any means) of technology or software and/or knowledge from the UK to a destination outside the UK, including via email, fax, video-conferences and shared data environments.
'Technology' means 'specific information' necessary for the 'development', 'production' or 'use' of goods or software that is not in the public domain.
Does the legislation apply to my research?
There will be some areas of research and collaboration where researchers should always take advice. These are commonly known as the 'red flags'. All activity that raises any weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-end use control concerns is for example an automatic 'red flag'.
Download further information:
- If your work involves conceiving, developing or using 'military, security and para-military goods, software, technology or arms, ammunition and related material' that are on the 'military list', for export to any country, you must apply to the ECO for a licence.
- If your research involves conceiving, developing or using 'dual use' items that have military and civil applications, including lasers, autonomous vehicle systems and imaging equipment, and that are on the 'dual Use list', you must apply to the ECO for a licence to export outside the European Union.
Check whether your work – technology, equipment, materials, software or know-how – is on any of the UK strategic control lists.
If you are in any doubt, contact the ECO.
Even if your work does not seem to relate to one of the strategic control lists, carefully consider whether there are any WMD or military end use concerns about your customer or other overseas entities involved in your proposed export.
There is a need to be particularly alert when working with parties from certain countries which are either subject to arms, trade or other sanctions, embargoes or, more commonly, when there are concerns about military/weaponry/terrorist activities. Click here to check current arms embargoes and other restrictions.
Note: Other controls apply if you are planning to export other categories of goods such as medicines, animal products, plant material, arts or antiques. These are not the focus of this page.
Information security is vital for those working on security-sensitive research: security of data, prototypes, building layouts, software, drawings, chemical formulae, human or animal vaccines etc.
The University organised a national workshop on ‘Export Controls and Acedemia’ held in Oxford in November 2016, led by Adrian Bond (ECO) and Ian Stewart (KCL).
It is suggested that academic researchers may find it helpful to think about intellectual property, information security and export controls as three points of a triangle, and to consider them together.
The government's higher education guide and toolkit on export controls provides:
- a broad summary of UK export controls in relation to academia
- an explanation of where the various exemptions apply
- a discussion of what this means in practice for academics
- a decision tree
- illustrative case studies