Export explained

The term ‘export controls’ refers to the control of the supply, export, publication or brokering of military and dual-use goods and technology. Australia’s export controls include the physical export of controlled goods and technology from Australia; the intangible transfer (e.g. emails) of controlled technology from Australia to overseas; the publishing of controlled military technology; and the brokering of controlled military goods and technology. It also includes ‘catch all’ (or ‘end-use’) controls.

Defence Export Controls (DEC) in the Department of Defence is Australia’s military and dual-use goods and technology export regulator.

Regulating the exports of military and dual-use goods and technology achieves a number of objectives consistent with Australia’s national interest, including:

  • ensuring the security and capability edge of our war fighters;
  • minimising regional and international instability and conflict;
  • ensuring Australia upholds its international obligations through the responsible export of military and dual-use goods and technology; and
  • preventing the illicit and irresponsible trade in conventional weapons and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

What is "Export"?

Typically, tangible items are exported when sent overseas by ship, aircraft, post, courier, or as checked-in or hand-held luggage. Exports can be permanent (e.g. for sale to a foreign buyer), or temporary (e.g. for demonstration, exhibition, use at a conference or workshop, repair by the original equipment manufacturer, or for competition and sporting activities).

Exports of DSGL-listed goods and technology are controlled by the Customs (Prohibited Export) Regulations 1958 (see regulations 13E-EK). Controlled exports require a permit from DEC unless an exemption exists in legislation.

‘Goods’ is defined in the Customs Act 1901 as movable property of any kind, including but not limited to, documents, vessels and aircraft.

Do export controls apply to you?

Every person located in Australia, whether an Australian national or not, is subject to Australia’s export control laws. Some export controls also apply to Australian citizens and residents overseas.

Export controls apply to you when you are undertaking a controlled activity with controlled goods and/or technology listed on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL).

Export controls also apply to you when you are undertaking a controlled activity with any goods and/or technology that may be for a prejudicial military end-use, or that might be utilised in a weapons of mass destruction program.

To learn more about the DSGL and whether your goods or technology may fall under it, see our DSGL Page.