Beginners' guide to 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 European Union (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.

The ECJU is only concerned with strategic goods. If you are planning to export other categories of goods such as arts, antiques, medicines or animal products, you need to establish whether or not you need an export or import licence

    • Department for International Trade ECJU Helpline
      020 7215 4594