Dual Use

The concept of dual-use include the potential for well-intentioned, beneficial research to also be misused by a third party for malicious ends. The concept of dual-use challenges researchers to look beyond the immediate outcomes of their research and to develop an awareness of possible future (mis)uses of scientific research.

Dual-use items include goods, software, information and technology that could be used for civil or military purposes. It includes all items which could be used in non-explosive applications or in manufacturing nuclear weapons.

EU Export Control legislation was retained in UK law under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. A licence is required to export controlled dual-use items from the UK to overseas destinations, now including all EU Member States.

There are some areas of research where staff should always seek advice before proceeding with any interaction. Please see Export Control Joint Unit webpage for guidance regarding export controls.

Generally, only those dual-use items with certain performance characteristics or capabilities are controlled. You can use the ECO Goods Checker to check if your item is controlled and which performance characteristics apply.

Examples of dual-use items

  • Nuclear (e.g. complete nuclear reactors and parts thereof, and dual-use parts and materials)
  • Chemicals (e.g. precursors for toxic chemical agents such as Potassium Cyanide 150-50-8)
  • Micro-organisms & toxins (e.g. Lassa fever virus in the form of isolated live cultures, apart from vaccines)
  • Navigation and avionics (e.g. continuous output accelerometers specified to function at acceleration levels exceeding 100g)
  • Intangible technology associated with the design, production, or use of controlled goods is often also controlled
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles and associated technology

Further guidance