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Activities Subject to Export Control

The following routine academic activities could be covered by export control:

  • Research on behalf of an international partner

  • International collaboration

  • Presentations at conferences

  • Export of materials

  • Teaching

  • Academic exchange with a colleague at an overseas institution

Export control legislations can affect researchers across a range of disciplines, although Science and Engineering disciplines are most likely to be affected.


  • Aeronautical and Space Technology

  • Applied Chemistry, Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering

  • Applied Physics

  • Biotechnology

  • Electrical and Mechanical Engineering

  • Instrumentation and Sensors

  • Materials Technology

  • Nuclear Technologies

  • Production and Process Technology

  • Telecommunications and Information Technology

  • Ancillaries and support equipment at some facilities, such as those which house uranium enrichment centrifuges or nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, can also be of concern even if the technology is itself ubiquitous
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Carbon fibre with high tensile properties, high nickel alloys, high grade aluminium, vacuum systems, propellants etc.
  • Chemicals with toxic properties can cause serious injury or death. Could your research be applied for this purpose?
  • Civil technology which could be used or adapted as a component for military purposes
  • Electromagnetic absorption
  • Fissile materials or radioactive materials or equipment for their detection or handling
  • Ground penetrating radar
  • High grade radioactive material – could it be emitted into the atmosphere and contaminate the environment?
  • Hydrophones or sonar equipment
  • Materials characterisation equipment
  • Materials production techniques
  • Ocean bottom survey equipment
  • Opto-electronics (lasers)
  • Stealth technology
  • Technology which could support activities in facilities which house weapons technology or delivery programmes (including hardened underground facilities and hermetically sealed buildings)
  • Unmanned equipment (even if used by you only for atmospheric research)
  • Uranium enrichment for non-civil nuclear energy
  • Vaccine technology, which might be used to inoculate troops using chemical or biological weapons
  • Viruses and pathogens or related research


There are exemptions that apply to the controls of software and technology (but not physical goods). However, such exemptions do not apply where there are specific end-use concerns.

The exemptions apply to:

  • The information must already be available without restriction upon further dissemination (with the exception of copyright restrictions) to be deemed to be in the public domain. Information, technology or software that has to be purchased for example from a supplier, has restriction on access, or is subject to Government or Ministry of Defence security classifications is outside the scope of this exemption.
  • The intention to publish controlled research data does not trigger this exemption as it does not mean it is in the public domain.
  • Basic scientific research is defined as “experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire new knowledge of the fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts and not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective”. A research can be considered basic scientific research if it is classed as low Technology Readiness Level (TRL 1-3), has no links to industry and there is no collaborator involved which is claiming IP ownership or imposing any conditions on publishing the results for the research.
  • Please, remember that Basic Scientific Research decontrol cannot be applied to physical goods. Therefore, any controlled physical goods you are sending out of the UK will remain controlled even if they are related to a project that falls under this exemption”.
  • Dual use technology may be de-controlled if it is the minimum information required for a patent application.


WMD End Use Controls will always take precedence over the de-controls and exemptions. Where an activity could be exempt from Export Controls either as basic scientific research or under the public domain exemption, if this activity in question is likely to fall within the WMD End Use Controls, these will take priority and the exemption will not apply.

It is important to bear in mind that commercially available items in the UK might not be exempt from UK export control legislation. If you would like to export any of these items, you should be able to check with the manufacturer if the item is controlled. If it is controlled, they should also be able to provide you with the entry code.