Research Export Controls

Do you intend to take research materials or plans overseas or share them with people or entities who are overseas?

Australia’s export control system places restrictions on the export of a range a defence and strategic goods and technology, including dual use items in applied research not already in the public domain. Basic research is not controlled.

If your applied research materials or activities are covered in the Defence and Strategic Goods List you may need a permit from the Department of Defence.

  • Determine if your planned activities or goods are controlled here.
  • View the DSGL Quick Reference Guide here.
  • Access Export Controls Frequently Asked Questions here.
  • Read Strengthened Export Controls: Facts and Myths here.
  • Read the Australian Export Controls and ICT guide here.
  • Read the Australian Export Controls and Life Sciences guide here.
  • View a slide of the UNSW Export Controls Process here.

The new UNSW Research Export Controls Procedure describes the UNSW framework and can be viewed here.

Note that a number of export materials and activities can be covered under the Australian General Export Licences held by UNSW which means you don't need a separate permit but register your activities with exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au.

For enquiries please contact Dr Ted Rohr, Director Research Ethics & Compliance Support,by T: 02 9385 4235 or E: exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au.

The following content provides you with detailed information on this topic:

The Defence and Strategic Goods List

The Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) includes equipment, assemblies and components, associated test, inspection and production equipment, materials, software and technology. The DSGL is divided into two parts:

  1. Defence and related goods – those goods designed or adapted for use by armed forces or goods that are inherently lethal.
  2. Dual-use goods – those goods comprising equipment and technology developed to meet commercial needs but which may be used either as military components or for the development or production of military systems or weapons of mass destruction.

The DSGL contains exemptions relating to technology or software that is in the public domain and to basic scientific research.

Search the DSGL here: https://dsgl.defence.gov.au/pages/home.aspx or view the DSGL Quick Reference Guide here.

Export of tangible goods

Under the Customs Act 1901 (Cth), tangible goods included in the DSGL may not be exported from Australia unless a licence or permission has been granted by the Minister for Defence, or an authorised person, and that licence or permission is produced to a Collector of Customs before exportation.

Access the DSGL Search Engine to find out whether your goods are on the DSGL: https://dsgl.defence.gov.au/Pages/Search.aspx or view the DSGL Quick Reference Guide here.

If your search indicates that your intended export may be controlled please contact exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au to determine if it can be covered under the Australian General Export Licences held by UNSW.

If the material or activity can not be covered you will then need to complete the DEC Application to Export Controlled Goods and Technology (find forms here) and submit to exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au. Also include a completed additional questions form (download the form here).

RECS will submit the form to DEC on your behalf after supplying the DEC Client Registration Number.

UNSW staff intending to export goods that may be on the DSGL should, in the first instance, consult with the Director, Research Ethics & Compliance Support, Dr Ted Rohr, by T: 02 9385 4235 or E: exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au.

Export of intangible goods

Recently an amendment to the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTC Act) was passed by Parliament. Its provisions came into force on 2nd April 2016.

The amended Act introduces new strengthened export controls to regulate the:

  • intangible supply: intangible supply is when a person in Australia provides controlled technology in a non-physical form (i.e. electronically) to another person outside Australia. Some examples include supply via email, fax or providing a password access to electronic files.
  • brokering: brokering occurs when a person, acting as an agent or intermediary, arranges the transfer of controlled items between two or more persons located outside Australia, and receives a benefit. Benefits include money or non-cash payments for the brokering activity, or if the brokering activity advances their political, religious or ideological cause.
  • publication of controlled goods and technology: publication in the Act includes publishing on the internet, to the public or to a section of the public. Once controlled military technology is published in the public domain, it is no longer possible to regulate who has access to it. Publishing controlled military technology can put sensitive and potentially dangerous information into the wrong hands, with limited prospect of regulating that information.

Access the DSGL Search Engine to find out whether your intended activities are controlled: https://dsgl.defence.gov.au/Pages/Search.aspx or view the DSGL Quick Reference Guide here.

If your search indicates that your intended export may be controlled please contact exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au to determine if it can be covered under the Australian General Export Licences held by UNSW.

If the material or activity can not be covered you will then need to complete the DEC Application to Export Controlled Goods and Technology (find forms here) and submit to exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au. Also include a completed additional questions form (download the form here).

RECS will submit the form to DEC on your behalf after supplying the DEC Client Registration Number.

UNSW staff intending to undertake controlled activities should, in the first instance, consult with the Director, Research Ethics & Compliance Support, Dr Ted Rohr, by T: 02 9385 4235 or E: exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au.

Do I need a permit?

Permits are required for tangible and intangible exports as described above. Alternatively, some goods and activities may be covered by the Australian General Export Licences held by UNSW.

Controls to technology transfer do not apply to information in the public domain, to basic scientific research or to the minimum necessary information for patent applications.

If your search indicates that your intended export may be controlled please contact exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au to determine if it can be covered under the Australian General Export Licences held by UNSW.

If the material or activity can not be covered you will then need to complete the DEC Application to Export Controlled Goods and Technology (find forms here) and submit to exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au. Also include a completed additional questions form (download the form here).

RECS will submit the form to DEC on your behalf after supplying the DEC Client Registration Number.

UNSW is registered as a client with the Australian Department of Defence under Defence Export Control (DEC) for the purpose of applying for permission or a licence to export tangible goods on the DSGL.

UNSW staff intending to export goods that may be on the DSGL should, in the first instance, consult with the Director, Research Ethics & Compliance Support, Dr Ted Rohr, by T: 02 9385 4235 or E: exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au.

Collaborative defence projects with U.S. partners may be managed according to the Australia-US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty. You can find further information here.

Remember that the DSGL contains exemptions relating to technology or software that is in the public domain and to basic scientific research. If you are unsure contact Dr Ted Rohr, Director Research Ethics & Compliance Support,by T: 02 9385 4235 or E: exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au.

Tools and resources

More information on the above regimes can be found on the Defence Export Control (DEC) website. The DEC website contains tools allowing assessment of tangible and intangible goods:

For enquiries please contact Dr Ted Rohr, Director Research Ethics & Compliance Support,by T: 02 9385 4235 or E: exportcontrols@unsw.edu.au.

Export controls in other countries

Many countries have their own, often stringent, controls in place for the import and export of controlled goods and technology. This means that in addition to checking for the need to obtain a permit to export from Australia you also need to check whether there are permit requirements in the countries you intend to enter and depart. Where possible speak to your international collaborators to seek the relevant information.

Below are some links to international requirements: