Guidance explaining what will change for exporters of controlled goods from 1 January 2021.
New rules for January 2021
The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.
This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.
You can also read about the transition period.
Controlled goods are regulated through a system of export licensing and include:
- military items
- dual-use items (items with both civil and military uses)
- items that can be used for torture or capital punishment
- goods subject to trade sanctions
The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) is responsible for the exporting control and licensing of these items.
This guidance explains what will change for the export of strategic items from Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Exporting military items
There will be no changes to controls on the export of military items from the UK (including Great Britain and Northern Ireland) other than minor legislative fixes. This ensures the continued operability of legislation at the end of the transition period.
You will need to continue to apply for licences as you do now.
Open individual export licences (OIELs) for the export of military items from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to the EU will no longer be restricted to 3 years. For export from Northern Ireland to the EU, OIELs will continue being restricted to 3 years.
Where you are exporting to destinations covered by an arms embargo, you will also need to have reference to the relevant sanctions regulations under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.
Exporting firearms to the EU
In Great Britain, the European Firearms Pass will no longer be available, and it will no longer be possible to take personal firearms to the EU using it.
The exemption that currently applies to the temporary export of firearms as personal effects to the rest of the world will now cover exports to the EU. You will need to make sure that the destination country would also permit the import and re-export of the firearm.
If you want to take firearms as personal effects to an EU country, you will need to make sure that the destination country would also permit the import and re-export of the firearm.
If you are a dealer or exporter of firearms, you will need to continue to apply for licences. Dealer to dealer OIELs will not be valid for firearms moving from Great Britain to the EU. Dealers will need to apply for standard individual export licences (SIELs), but a simplified process will apply to mitigate the burden on dealers.
Arrangements for transfers of civilian firearms under Directive 91/477/EEC (the Weapons Directive) will continue to apply to transfers between Northern Ireland and the EU.
In Northern Ireland, the European Firearms Pass will continue to be available and will permit the taking of personal firearms from Northern Ireland to the EU.
Dealer to dealer OIELs will still be available and extant licences will continue to be valid for firearms moving from Northern Ireland to the EU.
You will require a licence to export civilian firearms from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
Exporting dual-use items
The overall framework of controls for dual-use exports will not change, but there will be changes to some licensing requirements. In Great Britain the rules governing dual-use item exports will be the retained EU Regulation. In Northern Ireland, EU rules governing dual-use item exports will continue to apply.
Where you are exporting to destinations covered by sanctions on such items, you will also need to have reference to the relevant sanctions regulations under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.
From Great Britain to the EU and the Channel Islands
You will need an export licence issued by the UK if you are exporting dual-use items from Great Britain to the EU or the Channel Islands.
ECJU has published the open general export licence (OGEL) for exports of dual-use items to EU member states from Great Britain. This licence will also cover exports to the Channel Islands.
The new licence will remove the need for Great Britain exporters to apply for individual licences and can be used from the end of the transition period by those who have registered to use the licence on SPIRE, the online export licensing system.
From Northern Ireland to the EU
There will be no additional licence requirements to export dual-use items from Northern Ireland to the EU. Controlled items that currently move licence-free to the EU will not require a licence to move between Northern Ireland and the EU.
From Northern Ireland to the Channel Islands and Isle of Man
You can use the open general export licence (export of dual-use items to EU member states) for the majority of controlled items exporting from Northern Ireland to the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
From Great Britain to a non-EU country
If you already have an OGEL or an individual export licence to export dual-use items to a non-EU country issued by the UK, it will remain valid for export from Great Britain. Registrations made with the UK for the EU general export authorisations (GEAs) will automatically be duplicated to become registrations for the retained GEAs and will still be valid for exports from Great Britain.
An export licence issued by one of the 27 EU member states will no longer be valid for export from Great Britain.
From Northern Ireland to a non-EU country
OGELs and individual export licences granted by the UK to export dual-use items to a non-EU country, will remain valid for exports from Northern Ireland. For exports from Northern Ireland, the current registrations for the EU GEAs will continue to remain valid.
Licences granted by one of the 27 EU member states will no longer be valid for export from Northern Ireland.
From the EU to a non-EU country
You will need a new licence, issued by an EU member state, for exporting dual-use items from EU member states to a non-EU country.
An export licence issued in the UK will no longer be valid to export dual-use items from an EU member state.
From the EU to Great Britain
You will need a licence, issued by an EU member state, for exporting dual-use items from EU member states to Great Britain. You should seek advice from the relevant EU member state licensing authority.
The European Council has proposed to add the UK as a permitted destination to Union General Export Authorisation (GEA) EU001, to minimise any additional licensing burden for those exporting dual-use items from the EU to the UK.
From the EU to Northern Ireland
For the purpose of dual-use regulation, Northern Ireland is considered as part of the EU customs territory. No licence will be required to export dual-use items (other than those in Annex IV of the EU dual-use regulation) from the EU to Northern Ireland. You should seek advice from the relevant EU member state licensing authority.
From Great Britain to Northern Ireland
There is no licensing requirement to move dual-use items from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
From Northern Ireland to Great Britain
There will be no licensing requirements to move dual-use items from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
Exporting civil nuclear material
If you export civil nuclear material you can find out what other conditions will apply besides export controls. They include:
- civil nuclear regulation from 11pm on 31 December 2020
- nuclear research from 11pm on 31 December 2020
Exporting goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment
Strict controls apply to the export of goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment. The overall framework of the strict controls on these goods will not change. Exports to EU member states from Great Britain will be treated in the same way as exports to non-EU destinations are treated now, that is, they will require a licence.
This means that Great Britain exporters will:
- be prohibited from exporting items in Annex II of Council Regulation 2019/125 to any destination, including to EU member states
- be prohibited from providing brokering, training or advertising services relating to items in Annex II of Regulation 2019/125 to any person or entity in an EU member state
- need a licence to export items in Annexes III and IV of Regulation 2019/125 to EU member states
Exports to EU member states from Northern Ireland will not require a licence (except in the specific circumstances as they do now).
You will require a licence for goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. The EU GEA, set out in Annex V of Regulation (EU) 2019/125, can be used for the goods listed in Annex IV of the same regulation for this purpose.
The UK uses sanctions to fulfil a range of purposes, including supporting foreign policy and national security objectives, as well as maintaining international peace and security, and preventing terrorism. Sanctions measures can include arms embargoes and other trade restrictions.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is responsible for UK policy on sanctions. The Department for International Trade (DIT) implements trade sanctions, and has overall responsibility for trade sanctions licensing.
Find guidance on current arms embargoes and other restrictions.
EU sanctions will continue to apply in the UK until 11pm on 31 December 2020, when UK sanctions regimes will come into force under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act). These regimes will apply to the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland. The majority of existing sanctions licences issued by the UK will continue to be valid under the new framework up until the end of the validity period stated on the licence.
Although the intent in drafting regulations under the Sanctions Act was to maintain substantially the same effect as the existing EU sanctions you should not assume that all aspects of EU sanctions have been replicated exactly. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are compliant with the requirements of the new legislation. You can access the new legislation and read the related guidance.
You can find out more about the UK sanctions policy after 31 December 2020.
Further guidance will be provided if there is any change in any requirements.
What you can do next
- check if you need an export licence for exports to EU countries on OGEL and goods checker tools, using as a guide the licensing provisions in current legislation for a ‘third country’ (a non-EU country) to understand what controls would apply for exports to EU countries
Please note these tools will currently only provide outcomes for Great Britain exports, as they will use the current Strategic Export Control Lists. They will not provide outcomes for Northern Ireland exports.
Also note that the OGEL checker tool will not present the retained GEAs until 1 January 2021. Any current registrations for the EU GEAs will be duplicated to retained GEAs.
- refer to guidance links on OGEL and goods checker tools to apply for a licence
- remember, it is your responsibility to comply with the export control regulations, and breaching export controls is a criminal offence
- check new sanctions legislation and ensure you comply with its requirements, and read the sanctions regime guidance. Do not assume that all aspects of existing EU sanctions will be exactly the same.
Sign up for updates on export controls and licensing.
For further information you could:
- find out more about export controls and licensing
- find out how the government administers the UK’s system of export controls and licensing for military and dual-use items
- read more information on importing and exporting from 1 January 2021
You can contact DIT if you have a question about exporting controlled goods after 1 January 2021.