What items are controlled?

Information about export control lists and exemptions.

The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) administers the UK’s system of export controls and licensing for military and dual-use items.  Export Control lists are regularly updated by the Government. 

Export Control Joint Unit website 

Most recent Export Control lists and a tool to search the database on the Gov.UK website

Categories of controls

The laws around export control focus on two main areas:

Military Items

Items with a specific military application fall into this category. Some examples might include radar antennae and weapon-locating systems, thermal imaging devices, target acquisition and tracking systems. This is not an exhaustive list.

Dual-Use Items

Items with a legitimate civilian use and which also have a military application fall into this category. This largely applies to items that are to be exported out of the European Union, although there is an annex to the list which also applies to transfer within the EU. Some examples might include dual-use parts and materials for nuclear reactors, chemicals, micro-organisms & toxins, navigation and avionics, unmanned aerial vehicles and associated technology;


End-Use Controls

Where goods are not listed on the Export Control lists above, there may still be a requirement for a license under the End-Use Controls. This will apply if the goods might have an end-use that could be for:

  • Military purposes by a country subject to sanctions;
  • WMD or in connection with WMD

Emerging Technologies: New export licensing requirement & summary guidance

On 1 April, the UK government updated the UK Strategic Export Control List, introducing a new export licensing requirement applying to exports of certain emerging technologies to any destination outside the UK.  The change affects specific goods, software and technology in the following fields:

  • quantum technologies
  • cryogenic technologies
  • semiconductor technologies
  • additive manufacturing equipment
  • advanced materials

We've produced a summary guide to help colleagues working in these fields identify the goods, software and technology that now require export licences to send overseas. Read the guidance below, available for University of Edinburgh colleagues (EASE log in required):




Some items on the controlled list may be exempt from the need to apply for a licence, however this must be confirmed with the ECJU prior to continuing with the export. Exemptions relevant to academic researchers include:

  • Information already in the public domain – e.g. freely available, such as in a book, on a website, etc;
  • Basic scientific research – defined as: “experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire knowledge of the fundamental principles or phenomena or observable facts and not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective”.

These exemptions do not apply however in cases where the proposed export is subject to the End-Use Controls.  If you have been informed, or are aware of or suspect WMD end-use, then the item is still controlled and a licence may be required for export