A quick guide to applying for an export licence

A quick guide to applying for an export licence

18 July 2018 - Author: Sonia Kisbee | B2B data, Data, how to export, global ready, export strategy, export controls, export licencing, ECO, Export Control Organisation 

Why you might need an export licence

 Any item exported from the UK that is subject to export control needs a license. Export licencing is controlled by the Export Control Organisation (ECO) in order to promote global security and facilitate responsible exports within the law. The ECO are responsible for assessing and issuing (or refusing) export, trade transshipment and trade control licenses for a wide range of controlled so called 'strategic' goods, which includes military and dual-use items.

Whether a licence is required depends on various factors such as whether the items are listed on the UK Strategic Export Control Lists, they are subject to end-use controls or to sanctions. This means that you as the exporter are responsible for complying with the law, understanding the regulations and keeping yourself informed.

All licence applications are risk assessed on a case by case basis, with regard to the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. You can find out more about export controls, licence applications and how to comply here.


Here are some key do's and don'ts!

Whether you need an export licence will depend on the type of goods and the country you are exporting to. You apply for a licence using the ECO’s online system SPIRE - however you may find it helpful to consider some of our key do’s and don’ts should you find yourself needing to apply for a licence.

  • Quality Control – Build export control checks into your quality control processes
  • Share Knowledge – Make sure that you don’t rely on one individual to know or do it all
  • Accurate Classification – It’s important you accurately identify the control classification used for your products
  • Market Awareness –  You should make sure that you are aware of political situation of the country of destination
  • End User Issues – Try to check out both existing and potential end-user issues
  • Understand Licencing – It’s important to read the terms & conditions of all licences
  • Facilitate Training – You should make sure all relevant people in your organisation are trained – from sales to procurement to shipping
  • Keep Records – You will need to keep records of all relevant documents for exporting controlled goods 

Keep up to date with more information here Notices to ExportersLicencingTrade Sanctions & Embargoes.


Get Help & Advice from the Experts!

To summarise, when trading overseas, export controls are taken very seriously, especially in light of the volatile and security conscious times we find ourselves living, so it goes without saying that you should always seek expert guidance from the relevant authorities. This will be especially important in the light of Brexit and the impact this will have on both European and global trading markets for UK exporters.


– Use Kompass Business Data to research and find contacts in your target markets.

– Department for International Trade Advisers should be considered key contacts for help and advice.

– COBCOE helps businesses by promoting international trade across Europe.

– Your Local Chamber of Commerce can help with export documentation and finance.

– UK Export Finance provides trade finance and insurance for exporting.

– AFEX market leading foreign exchange and international payment services.

– The Institute of Export gives advice, guidance, offers courses and qualifications.

– Build your brand & global online presence with Kompass Digital Marketing solutions.


At Kompass we have more than 60 years experience, helping businesses grow – providing our customers with business data to help improve the results of their sales and marketing activity and driving relevant enquiries through globally optimised company profiles from more than 7.5M Kompass users. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you as you plan your export strategy. 

Our Kompass Export Zone builds on our business information expertise, by giving access to straightforward guidance on some of the key factors to consider when exporting, research advice and country specific market information. For more advice on getting started on your export journey, see our guide on How legislation affects overseas trade for UK companies.


Disclaimer: Please note that this blog only contains general information and insights about legal matters. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. Kompass.com