Export controls

General controls

What general controls are imposed on exports?

The main instruments setting out the import and export rules of the EU are the:

  • Union Customs Code (Council Regulation 952/2013);
  • UCC Delegated Act (Commission Delegated Regulation 2015/2446);
  • UCC Implementing Act (Commission Implementing Regulation 2015/2447);
  • UCC Transitional Delegated Act (Commission Delegated Regulation 2016/341);
  • UCC Work Programme (Commission Implementing Decision No. 2016/578);
  • EU Dual-Use Regulation 428/2009; and
  • national regulations on export of military and dual-use items.

Under articles 263 and seq of the UCC, goods intended for export are subject to an export declaration. Furthermore, certain goods, such as military items listed in the national military lists, dual-use items listed in Annex I to Regulation 428/2009, waste and endangered species, require a licence prior to their export.

Government authorities

Which authorities handle the controls?

National customs authorities implement the EU customs rules, impose and collect import and export duties, oversee goods in transit and under special customs procedures, and pursue customs and export violations. A list of national customs authorities can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/national-customs-websites_en. If the export of a good requires a licence, this must be obtained from the responsible authorities and included in the export documentation (see also questions 23 and 28).

Special controls

Are separate controls imposed on specific products? Is a licence required to export such products? Give details.

Certain goods, technology and software require prior authorisation for exports and intra-EU transfers (from one EU member state to another).

Particularly noteworthy are the export and intra-EU transfer restrictions with regard to military items and certain dual-use items. Military items listed on the military lists of the member states require a licence for export and intra-EU transfer. Dual-use items listed in Annex I to Regulation 428/2009 require a licence for export and dual-use items listed in Annex IV to Regulation 428/2009 also require a licence for intra-EU transfers. The licensing procedure is handled by the national export control authorities of the EU member states. Member states may also impose additional (stricter) export controls. Information on additional national rules and the national authorities responsible for export controls and sanctions is available at DG Trade’s website at http://ec.europa.eu/trade/import-and-export-rules/export-from-eu/dual-use-controls/.

Additional restrictions on exports and intra-EU transfers exist, inter alia, for waste, endangered species, pesticides, biocides, food and chemicals.

Supply chain security

Has your jurisdiction implemented the WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards? Does it have an AEO programme or similar?

Yes, the EU has implemented an authorised economic operator system. Further information on the EU’s AEO system is available at https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/dds2/eos/aeo_consultation.jsp?Lang=en.

Applicable countries

Where is information on countries subject to export controls listed?

The EU export controls on military and dual-use items apply equally to all non-EU countries. For partner countries and countries considered safe destinations, simpler procedures are in place, but there is no system of licence exception as in the US. In addition, the EU and member states have imposed sanctions and embargoes against various third countries (see questions 26 and 29).

Named persons and institutions

Does your jurisdiction have a scheme restricting or banning exports to named persons and institutions abroad? Give details.

The EU has imposed specific restrictions on natural and legal persons engaged in terrorism by Regulations 2580/2001 and 881/2002 (https://ec.europa.eu/fpi/what-we-do/sanctions_en). Recently the EU also intro duced Regulation 2019/796 which imposes specific restrictions on natural and legal persons engaged in cyber-attacks that threaten the EU or its member states (see question 32). In addition, country-specific embargoes also contain person-related sanctions (see question 30).


What are the possible penalties for violation of export controls?

Violations of export controls can be subject to administrative or criminal sanctions, or both, depending on the gravity of the violation and the specific law of the respective EU member state. Smaller violations can lead to revocation of export privileges (eg, global licences), warnings and fines. More severe violations will, in addition, entail higher fines, and can lead to prison sentences for the operators responsible.