Australian legislation regulates the export of controlled goods and technologies under two Acts:
- Customs Act 1901
- Defence Trade Control Act 2012
The Customs Act 1901 regulates the tangible export of goods or technology while the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTCA) controls the intangible export (supply), brokering and publication of technologies.
The Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) includes equipment, assemblies and components, associated test, inspection and production equipment, materials, software and technology. Goods and technology included in the DSGL may not be exported from Australia unless a permit has been granted by the Minister for Defence. The DSGL is divided into two parts.
Part 1: Defence and Related Goods
Goods and technologies designed or adapted for military purposes or those that are inherently lethal, incapacitating or destructive
Part 2: Dual Use
Commercial items and technologies that may be used or adapted for use in a military program, for the development or production of a military system or weapons of mass destruction, or contribute to the development and production of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons
Part 2 covers the following topics:
- Materials Processing
- Telecommunications and Information Security
- Sensors and Lasers
- Navigation and Avionics
- Materials, Chemicals, Micro-organisms and Toxins
- Aerospace and Propulsion
- Nuclear Materials
The DSGL is available online and includes details of these topics. There is an online tool to help researchers identify whether the good, service or technology under question does or does not require a permit. There are exemptions, which are defined below (definitions taken from DSGL ):
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."
Work in the 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").
Medical equipment: The controls in the dual-use list (Part 2 of the DSGL ) are not intended to subject medical equipment to export controls. There is a 'General Note on Medical equipment' in Division 3 of the DSGL .
Publication: A person does not need approval to publish dual‐use DSGL technology. However, the Minister for Defence may issue a notice prohibiting a person from publishing dual‐use technology, if the publication would prejudice Australia's security, or international obligations.
The DTCA aims to stop technology that can be used in conventional and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from getting into the wrong hands. The provisions apply equally to the defence, industry, university and research sectors. The DTCA is not designed to stop or restrict the transfer of information or research, it just introduces the requirement to seek permission from Defence Export Controls (DEC) before the intangible export of controlled goods and technology takes place. DEC is responsible to the Minister for Defence for regulating the export of defence and dual-use goods as part of Australia's system of export controls.
The Customs Act already requires that permits be sought for the tangible export of controlled goods or technology outside of Australia. This means that, as for physical goods, a permit is required to take controlled technology stored on a physical medium, such as a USB drive, computer hard drive or CD, outside of Australia. This includes scenarios where the media storage device is sent via postal service or is carried in hand-held or checked luggage. Researchers have an existing obligation to ensure they have been granted the appropriate permits for these transactions.
The DTCA requires that from 2 April 2016, researchers hold a permit for the intangible export of dual-use goods, services or technology listed on the DSGL. An intangible export occurs when there is a supply by electronic means, for example by email, fax, telephone, video conferencing or via presentations from Australia to a place outside Australia of DGSL technology. It also occurs if a person in Australia provides a person located outside of Australia with access to DSGL technology, for example by providing access to electronic files.
If you are collaborating with researchers outside of Australia on any goods or technology listed on the DSGL you may require a permit for your research. The DSGL has an online tool to help you identify whether the goods or technology under question do or do not require a permit. Permits are expected to take 15 working days to process, however complex applications may take significantly longer so it is important to start this process early in your research planning. Forms for applying for a permit are available. Please see 'Further information and assistance' before applying for a permit.
Please note, that permits are issued for named individuals and that the named individuals are thus personally liable for compliance with permit conditions and any other requirements of the Act. Penalties for non-compliance include imprisonment and fines.
Below is a summary of the permit requirements under the DTCA.
DSGL Part 1:
Controlled military technology
DSGL Part 2:
Controlled dual-use technology
(exceptions can apply e.g. verbal supply, pre-publication supply)
Approval by Minister of Defence or delegate required
No permit required
No permit required
(unless WMD or military end-use)
DEC has developed a series of free e-based Defence Export Controls training modules for exporters to gain a better understanding of Australia's system of export controls.
DEC has developed an Export Controls Frequently Asked Questions page as well as specific guides for researchers in Life Sciences and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). A webpage responding to common myths about the Defence Trade Control Act (2012) has also been developed.
Office of Research Services staff have identified key Faculties and Schools that may be impacted by these restrictions, and have delivered presentations to researchers. If you believe your research team would benefit from an information session please contact the nominated DEC Responsible Officer Sam Poynter.
If you believe you require a permit, or have any questions about the information included on this webpage, please contact:
Once the control status is established, the Office of Research Services will seek permission (on the researcher's behalf) from the Defence Export Control Office before the intangible supply of controlled goods and technology can take place. Permissions may take the form of a one-off permit or a broad project based licence allowing a number or range of transactions over a set time period.
Relevant University Policy and Procedure:
Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL): Australia's list of regulated goods and technology which require a permit or license before exportation.
Tangible exports: Tangible exports are controlled goods and technology that leave Australia in the tangible (physical) form. This may include blueprints, plans, technical data etc., and included controlled technology stored on a physical medium such as a USB, computer hard drive, CD etc.
Intangible:Intangible exports are controlled technology that is sent from Australia electronically rather than in a physical form. This may include supply via email, fax, password access to electronic files etc. Intangible supply also includes brokering and publishing.
Brokering: Brokering is when one person arranges the supply of goods listed in the DSGL or supply of DSGL technology to a place outside of Australia.
Supply: When a person in Australia provides DSGL technology to another person outside of Australia. Examples of supply include via email or fax, or by providing someone outside of Australia with passwords to access controlled technology stored electronically.
Publication: DSGL technology is made available to the public or to a section of the public via the internet or otherwise.
Difference between Supply and Publication
To determine whether the activity is a supply or a publication under the DTCA, you should ask: 'Will the DSGL technology be made available in the public domain'?
- If the DSGL technology is being made available to the public by placing it in the public domain, for example via a journal or website and there are no access restrictions (pay for view is not considered a restriction) then it is a publication and no permit is required.
- If access to the DSGL technology is controlled or restricted to particular users or groups, it has not been placed 'in the public domain', and is therefore a supply. Examples include a closed conference where only members from a select organisation or group can access the conference papers, or a website or database requiring a login and password to access the DSGL technology and only a select group can login (for examples, members of the same course, business, project team, group or association). Supply requires a permit.