How can we help you?


How to obtain an Export License in the UK – A Simplified Guide

Every country has its guidelines and procedures that regulate certain goods leaving the country. These regulations are meant to protect the country’s economy, environment, and national security.

An export license is a document that exporters are required to submit as proof that they are allowed to ship the named goods out of the country.

United Kingdom’s export licensing is meant to ensure that goods exported from the UK do not contribute to an increase in weapons of mass destruction. The licenses also ensure that controlled items are not used to facilitate internal oppression.

Hence, if you are looking to export from the UK, it’s essential that you understand the procedures and processes involved in obtaining an export license.

We have written this step-by-step guide to obtaining an export license when exporting from the UK. In this simplified export license guide you will also learn how to determine if your goods are eligible for an export license, the different export licenses available, and the cost and requirements for obtaining one.

How to obtain an export license in the UK (2-step Guide)

Export licensing applies to a few restricted items, as administered by the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU).

Here is a step-by-step guide to obtaining an export license in the UK:

#1 Determine if you need an export license for your goods

Restricted goods in the UK range from military goods to agricultural products. A list of restricted software, goods, and technology is available on the UK Strategic Export Control List.

You can also use the OGEL and Goods checker  tools to:

  • Determine if your goods are restricted
  • Identify the appropriate control entry rating
  • Establish the applicable export licenses

#2 Apply for an export license for your goods

If you determine your goods fall under the category of restricted items, you should apply for the required export license.

You can apply for your export license via SPIRE, the online export licensing system managed by the ECJU.

Criteria for classifying restricted goods in the UK

Usually, the need for export licensing in the UK is based on the following factors:

#1 Nature of the goods you are exporting

You need an export license to export restricted software, goods, and technology from the UK as described in the amended Schedule 2 and 3 of the Export Control Order 2008.

You can find a list of the restricted items in the UK Strategic Export Control List.

#2 The destination country

Some destination countries are subject to embargoes, sanctions and other forms of restrictions. And you need an export license to import to these countries.

The UK government provides details of designated restrictions made under the Sanctions Act and published on the UK Sanctions List.

The list details the sanctions, persons or ships to which they apply, and the reason for the regulation.

For instance, following the Ukraine invasion of Russia, the Russia (sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 was developed and enforced on 31 December 2020. The regulation was meant to discourage Russia’s activities aimed at destabilizing Ukraine or undermining the independence of Ukraine.

#3 Intended end-use

If your goods are not listed as controlled items in the Strategic Export Control List, you may still need an export license under the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) end-use control. These are items related to biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The control caters to all export activities related to the WMD, including brokering, transfer and provisioning technical assistance to accomplish mass destruction.

#4 Trade activities involved

You may need an export license if you are exporting military and dual-use goods to restricted destinations based on the current trade sanctions and embargoes.

For instance, you don’t need an export license when exporting dual-use items from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. However, you need an export license when exporting dual-use items from Northern Ireland to any other country outside the EU.

UK export licensing requirements

Before starting your export licensing application on SPIRE, you need to have the following details:

  • Your EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification).
  • Your export control classification number (ECCN or rating). You can contact the manufacturer of your goods for the assigned ECCN or check it out via the Commerce Control List (CCL).
  • Intended use and end-user details.
  • Type of export licensing that applies to your goods. 

Different types of export licenses in the UK

Here are the three different types of licenses in the UK:

#1 Open General Export License (OGEL)

OGEL is a type of license designed for exporters who send dual-use or military items overseas to various end users. The shipping is done regularly, and the licenses can be re-used.

They are pre-published licenses with terms and conditions included. Exporters can use these types of licenses if they agree to the terms and conditions instead of applying for a new one.

The permits are revoked or amended if the assessment changes but remain valid until revoked.

#2 Open Individual Export License (OIEL)

OIEL is a type of license designed for a particular customer to export multiple shipments of a specific category of goods to specific countries to various end users.

The license is ideal when shipping a similar item to the same customer regularly.

It is a flexible license usually valid for five years.

#3 Standard Individual End License (SIEL)

SIEL is a customizable license that authorizes the exportation of a specific quantity of goods to a specific destination and a named end-user or consignee.

There are two types of SIELs:

  • SIELS for permanent exports: These licenses are valid for two years or until the indicated quantity of goods has been shipped.
  • SIELS for temporary exports: They are valid only for one year.

UK export licensing cost

There is no cost for obtaining licenses directly from the ECJU.

Over to You

It’s a criminal offence to export a restricted item from the UK without the required license. Depending on the nature of the offence, you are subjected to penalties, including:

  • Revoking your license
  • Siezing your goods
  • A fine or up to 10 years of imprisonment.

For these reasons alone, it is of the utmost importance that if you are unsure of the export license procedures or find the processes complex, reaching out to experienced export consultants like Blackthorne is invaluable.

Partnering with exporting consultants will save you the hassle of identifying, applying, and obtaining necessary export licenses and most importantly help you remain compliant in case of any changes in the license requirements. Get in touch with us today!

How can we help you?

Discover our range of fully compliant solutions of for expert help, please get in touch with us at Blackthorne.