Guidance on Export Control Legislation

Further information on Export Control Legislation

Export control legislation seeks to ensure that UK science and technology is not exploited by Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) proliferators or terrorists.

Export controls apply to University staff in the same way as any other organisation. Many goods, technologies or know-how are designed for legitimate civilian purposes, but can also contribute to WMD and the missiles used to deliver them. A major aim of export controls is to prevent such sensitive technology falling into the wrong hands.

The main areas of concern are military technology, material, equipment or know-how that could be used in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or other explosive devices or means of delivery and their physical or electronic export.

Failure to comply with this legislation is a criminal offence.

Whom does this affect?

Any member of University staff intending to transfer:

  • Items on the military list or Annex IV of the dual use list (mostly sensitive nuclear items) outside of the UK;
  • Other items on the dual use list; and/or
  • Items to individuals, entities or countries on the sanctions list.

The controls apply to hardware (including equipment, tools, components and materials) and also to software and technology. Technology includes information useful of the development, production or use of goods which are subject to controls.

Controlled exports include:

  • Sending or taking physical items overseas;
  • Travelling overseas carrying information on a laptop or USB;
  • Electronic transfers, emails, texts, uploading information to an overseas server;
  • Online/virtual teaching and learning resources; or
  • Telephone or other communication (such as Skype or FaceTime).

Which areas are most likely to be affected?

  • Nuclear science or engineering
  • Biological Sciences relating to viruses, pathogens and vaccines
  • Chemical or toxic properties
  • High strength materials
  • High specification electronics, computers or telecommunications
  • Automation and control
  • Cryptography
  • Lasers, sonar and optics
  • Navigation and avionics
  • Submersible equipment
  • Aerospace and space

What is not affected?

  • Basic Scientific Research: experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire knowledge of fundamental principles or phenomena or observable facts;
  • Information in the public domain freely available without restriction.

One more important control: End Use

Does the activity raise any WMD end use control concerns? If a member of staff knows or has reason to suspect that an item not on the military or dual use list control list may be used for WMD purposes, a licence is required.

Red Flags – WMD End Use Concerns

  • Is the partner reluctant to offer information about the end-use of the items?
  • Has the partner asked that the goods be transferred to a forwarding address in the UK?
  • Are unusual shipping, packaging or labelling arrangements requested?
  • Is the partner new to you and is your knowledge about them incomplete?
  • Is the partner located in an area under strict security control or in an area to which access is severely restricted, or which is unusual in view of the type of equipment being installed?
  • Are there unusual requirements for excessive confidentiality about final destinations, or customers, or specifications of items?
  • Is the partner or end user a military or government research body?
  • Is the project requested unusual in any way, e.g. the quantity or performance capabilities of the goods significantly exceed, without satisfactory explanation, the amount or performance normally required for the stated end use?

US Export Controls

There are additional requirement relating to technology imported from the US. At the time of import, the supplier should have made you aware that the technology was subject to US Export Controls. This would mean additional controls are in place.

Need further advice or guidance?

Contact Cristina Pinto, Senior Funding Manager cristina.pinto@plymouth.ac.uk