The Defence and Strategic Goods List

The Defence and Strategic Goods List 2021 (DSGL) is the list that specifies the goods, software and technology that are regulated under Australian export control legislation. These are known as 'controlled' items. A permit is required when exporting, supplying, brokering or publishing DSGL items, unless there is an exemption.

The DSGL is a compilation of military and commercial goods and technologies, reviewed regularly to reflect decisions of key international non-proliferation and export control regimes.

The DSGL specifies controlled items under 2 categories:

  • Part 1 (Military) – covering items that are specially designed or modified for military use
  • Part 2 (Dual-Use) – covering items that are generally used for commercial purposes but that could be useful in a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons program.

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

Self-assessment guide for 'controlled' items

The DSGL controls that may apply to certain goods, software, and technology can be complex. Following the steps outlined will assist with referencing the latest version of the DSGL and identify the likely control status of the goods, software, or technology.

Be aware, multiple DSGL control categories or sub-categories could apply.

  1. Access the DSGL legislation through the Federal Register of Legislation website (Defence and Strategic Goods List 2021). Ensure it is the latest version marked 'In force - Latest Version'.
  2. Become familiar with the structure of the DSGL - Part 1 and Part 2. Each part is further subdivided into categories. In the Dual-use list each category is broken into 'systems, equipment and components', 'test, inspection and production equipment', 'Material', 'Software', 'technology' (where technology refers to specific information necessary for the development, production or use of an item which can take the form of blueprints, plans, engineering designs, models, specifications, drawings, manuals and instructions.. For further help, please see section on this page under 'Navigating the DSGL'
  3. Ask, is the item specially designed or modified for military use?
    • Yes: the items are likely DSGL controlled and this will require a permit. Items specially designed or modified for military use are controlled under Part 1 of the DSGL. To identify the most relevant control that may apply to the item use the Part 1 'Munition list' summary table
    • No: items that have both military and dual-use may be controlled under Part 2 of the DSGL 'Dual-use' list. Continue to step 4.
  4. Ask, does the item fit into any of the broad categories listed in the Part 2 of the DSGL 'Dual-use' list?
    • Yes: item(s) may be controlled under the relevant section of Part 2 of the DSGL. Search the relevant DSGL category to see if the item(s) meet the applicable control threshold for that category. Continue to step 6for more help searching the DSGL.
    • No: item(s) may still be controlled under the DSGL. For example, items may contain controlled subcomponents, such as non-controlled Unmanned Aerial Vehicle that includes a controlled thermal camera. These items will require a permit for export.)
  5. Ask, are item(s) manufactured in a country on the Foreign Countries List?
    • Yes: the manufacturer should be able to provide the Export Controls Classification Number (example, ECN, ECCN, USML), or if known check import documentation. This classification number should have an equivalent DSGL control number under a similar category.
    • No: continue to step 6.
  6. Search the DSGL for the specific item(s). Use the control-F function in the legislation (link)to search for key words. When searching the DSGL consider the following:
    • Keep key word searches short and simple. (searching for the term ‘neural network’ will yield no results, but searching for ‘neural’ will go to ‘neural computer’).
    • Do not look for brand names, items in the DSGL will be referred by generic names.
    • Search for relevant synonyms for the item(s), not all synonyms are included; (example, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Uncrewed Aerial Systems).
    • Look at the relevant control categories in the DSGL, and make note the terminology and acronyms used in the DSGL (e.g. instead of searching for the term ‘cubesat’ search for the term spacecraft’)
    • Use the export classification number (if available) to narrow the search results further.
    • Remember to search at the 'system' level of the item, and also search for parts and subcomponents for the system where they have high enough functionality that they might reach a control threshold.

The DSGL does not list all items that could have possible military or WMD utility. If there are concerns the export activity could be related to a WMD program or a military end use, please apply for a DEC export control assessment as catch all legislation can apply to uncontrolled goods, software, or technology.

DSGL exemptions for technology

The DSGL contains a number of exemptions that can apply to technology that may otherwise be controlled. These include technology that is:

In the public domain

If the technology is already available to the public, for example, in publications, product brochures and public blogs, websites, podcasts or databases, then it is not controlled. This exemption applies to all software and technology listed in the DSGL;

Basic scientific research

Any technology which extends only to the "fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts", and is "not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective", falls within the definition of basic scientific research, and would therefore not be controlled. This exemption applies to all technology listed on the DSGL.

The minimum necessary information for patent applications

This exemption does not apply to nuclear technology listed in Category 0. This exemption applies to the supply of DSGL technology where it is done for the purpose of 'seeking a patent' in Australia or overseas. 'Seeking a patent' includes lodging a patent application and the supply of DSGL technology to a person or organisation (e.g. a Patent Office, patent attorney, research collaborator or a patent review panel) that is directly associated with the lodging (or potential lodging) of a patent application, or as a result of the patent examination process.

Supply for a purpose that is not directly related to seeking a patent will generally require a permit (unless other exemptions apply).

This includes:

  • Supply of DSGL technology to a research collaborator located overseas before a decision is made to seek a patent. Once a provisional patent application is filed, any supplies of DSGL technology to further develop an invention prior to preparing/submitting a complete patent application will require a permit.
  • Supplies of DSGL technology to locate investors and determine overseas markets (including forwarding a recently-filed provisional application) will require a permit.
  • The process of publishing a patent (or an unsuccessful application) into the public domain is covered by this exemption. Until such time as that information exists in the public domain, it is still controlled and would require a permit to be supplied if it is not for the purpose of 'seeking a patent' and no other exemptions applied.

Medical equipment specially designed for medical end-use

This exemption applies to equipment that incorporates an item controlled in the dual-use list (Part 2) of the DSGL. This exemption does not include equipment that simply has a medical end-use.

For example, certain cryocoolers that are part of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machines are controlled, however, the NMR machine is specifically designed for medical end-use and therefore does not require a permit for export even though it contains a controlled item.

Other exemptions may apply.

Navigating the DSGL

The DSGL is split into two parts:

Part 1 – Munitions or military items

For military goods, software or technology refer to Part 1 - Munitions List (ML). Refer to sections within the ML to identify all the relevant controls that may apply to the items (i.e. goods, software and technology). A summary of the items listed in the ML list can be found in the table below.

Munitions list reference number Description
ML1 Smooth bore weapons calibre <20mm; Other weapons calibre ≤ 12.7mm (calibre 0.50 inches); Components and accessories

Smooth bore weapons >20mm; Other weapons calibre > 12.7mm (calibre 0.50 inches);

Components and accessories

ML3 Ammunition and components for ML1, ML2 & ML12, Fuze settings for ML3
ML4 Bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles,, other explosive devices and charges, components and accessories; Equipment for launching, deploying, decoying, disruption, detection and jamming
ML5 Fire control systems, components and accessories and their countermeasure equipment; Radar, surveillance, tracking systems, and their countermeasure equipment
ML6 Ground vehicles and components
ML7 Chemical or biological toxic agents, “riot control agents”, radioactive materials, related equipment, components and materials
ML8 “Energetic materials” (explosives & chemicals) and related substances
ML9 Vessels of war, special naval equipment, accessories, components and other surface vessels
ML10 Aircraft, unmanned airborne vehicles, aero‐engines and aircraft equipment, and related equipment and components
ML11 Electronic equipment not specified elsewhere on the Munitions List specially designed for military use and components
ML12 High velocity kinetic energy weapon systems and related equipment and components
ML13 Armour plates, helmets, body armour and components
ML14 Simulators and training equipment; Components and accessories
ML15 Imaging or countermeasure equipment, infrared, thermal imaging, image intensifier equipment and cameras; Components and accessories
ML16 Forgings, castings and other unfinished products specially designed for any items specified by ML1 ‐ ML4, ML6, ML9, ML10, ML12 or ML19
ML17 Miscellaneous goods, including diving equipment, robots, ferries, containers specially designed or modified for military use, goods treated for or providing signature suppression
ML18 Production and test equipment and components
ML19 Directed energy weapon systems, countermeasure and related equipment and test models (e.g. lasers and particle beam systems)
ML20 Cryogenic and superconductive equipment and specially designed components and accessories
ML21 Software associated with any item listed in the Munitions List
ML22 Technology associated with any item listed in the Munitions List
ML901-910 Specific Australian only controls on firearms and explosives not covered elsewhere

Part 2 – Dual-use items

For dual-use goods, equipment, software or technology refer to Part 2 - Dual-use list. Part 2 of the DSGL is further split into categories:

Dual-use category Description
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

Within the dual-use list there may be a need to refer to several sections to establish all the relevant controls that may apply to the items (goods, equipment, software and technology).

To establish the controls on:

  • dual-use goods refer to the 'A' section of each category (Systems, Equipment and Components)
  • test, inspection, and production equipment related to a dual-use category refer to the 'B' section of each category (Inspection and Production Equipment)
  • materials related to a dual-use category refer to the 'C' section of each category (Materials)
  • software related to items in a dual-use category refer to the 'D' section of each category
  • on technology related to items in a dual-use category refer to the 'E' section of each category.