Export controls

Australia's history of regulating the export of goods, services and information dates back to 1901, when the Customs Act was passed.

More stringent requirements were introduced with the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (Cth), which took effect on 2 April 2016. There is now a wider range of goods, services and information that cannot be exported outside Australia without a permit.

Restrictions apply to tangible products as well as intangible items, including emails, providing password access to controlled files, arranging for controlled items to change hands, and publishing information on the internet.

This can affect University of Newcastle researchers, who may be unaware that their research is controlled.

Perform a DSGL Search for your research area.

The search page contains tips to assist you.

If no search results are returned, click on Print My DSGL Items.

a. Print to PDF and save the PDF securely for your records. You can email the PDF to Export Controls if you would prefer the University to retain it for you.

b. Complete the online Researcher Assessment Outcome form. The University will retain these forms for compliance purposes. You don’t need to do anything further.

If search results are returned, click on each search result and determine if your area of research is included.

If you are unsure, contact Export Controls to assist you.

If your research area is not included, follow steps a. and b. above.

If your research area is included, complete the Activity Assessment Questionnaire to determine if your activities will be controlled. Be aware that simply emailing research data on DSGL items to a peer overseas can be a controlled activity.

Contact Export Controls for a preliminary assessment by the Defence Export Controls Office (DECO). If DECO determines your activity does require a permit, you will also need to submit a permit application through Export Controls.

The legislation affects you as an individual. Permits and licenses are granted in the name of the individual researcher and named individuals are therefore personally liable for compliance with relevant permit and licence conditions and other relevant requirements of the legislation.

The penalties under the legislation are quite severe, including up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $425,000. These penalties can be levied against individuals.

The Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) is a list of goods and technologies that Australia regulates.

The list specifies the items that are regulated when exported, supplied, brokered or published. The list is divided in to two parts:

  • Part 1 - munitions or military items; and
  • Part 2 - dual-use items; that is, items that may be used for commercial purposes, but may also have military uses.

Part 2 contains 10 categories:

  • Category 0 - Nuclear Materials
  • Category 1 - Materials, Chemical, Micro-organisms and Toxins
  • Category 2 - Materials Processing
  • Category 3 - Electronics
  • Category 4 - Computers
  • Category 5 - Telecommunications and Information Security
  • Category 6 - Sensors and Lasers
  • Category 7 - Navigation and Avionics
  • Category 8 - Marine
  • Category 9 - Aerospace and Propulsion

The list also contains Australia-specific controls relating to firearms and explosives.

A permit is required when exporting, supplying, brokering or publishing items which are included on the list, unless a valid exemption is in place.

More information can be found on the Department of Defence's website. The site includes self-paced training modules.

The Defence Trade Control Act 2012 (the Act) is a Commonwealth act which came into effect on 2 April 2016.

The Act introduced measures to control the transfer of defence and strategic goods technologies. In order to strengthen Australia’s export controls, and to stop technology that can be used in conventional and weapons of mass destruction from being misused, the Act includes provisions regulating the:

  • Intangible supply of technology relating to defence and strategic goods, such as supply electronically; and
  • Brokering the supply of Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) goods and technology.

If after using the online tools, you aren’t sure if you need a permit or not, you can apply to the Defence Export Controls Office for a preliminary assessment. If you think you might need to apply for a preliminary assessment, please advise Export Controls.

Note that applying for a preliminary assessment is not the same as applying for a permit. If the result of the preliminary assessment is that a permit is required, you will then need to apply for a permit.

If you think that you might require a permit for your research or for any other activities you are undertaking, please send an email to Export Controls. All applications for permits are coordinated through the Research Compliance, Integrity and Policy Unit.

The University of Newcastle is registered as a client with the Australian Department of Defence under the Defence Export Control System (DECS) for the purposes of applying for permits to export items on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL).

DECO applications are completed online and supporting information must be provided.  You can find out more about the information you may need to provide on the Application to Export Controlled Goods and Technology page.

Basic scientific research - "experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire new knowledge of the fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts, not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective" - from the Defence and Strategic Goods List.

Public domain - "“technology” or “software” which has been made available without restrictions upon its further dissemination (copyright restrictions do not remove “technology” or “software” from being “in the public domain”) - from the Defence and Strategic Goods List.

Only limited exemptions are available and they generally apply to information which is already in the public domain, or which is basic scientific research, or which is the minimum information necessary for patent applications.

Use the DSGL search engine to check if your activities could be exempt.

Record keeping

All records must be retained for seven (7) years. This includes copies of permit(s).

Other countries

Always remember that other countries have their own regulatory regimes in place and, if applicable, you will also need to satisfy those requirements. Where possible, discuss this with your colleagues and international contacts to obtain relevant information.

The websites below may offer further assistance:

US Export Controls
UK Export Control Organisation
European Commission dual-use control
Singapore Strategic Goods Control List
Wassenaar Arrangement

More information

  1. Defence Export Controls Office (DECO) website.
  2. Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) tool activity questionnaire
  3. Frequently Asked Questions page
  4. DECO scenarios - Research, correspondence, and informal scientific exchanges and Publications
  5. DECO self-paced online training modules

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.