Export controls

You may need to apply for a permit for your research if you intend to transfer certain technologies and information outside Australia.

The Defence Trade Control Act 2012 (DTCA) and Amendment Bill (2015) regulates items identified as defence and dual-use goods, software and technologies when they are supplied, brokered or published.

It is important to become familiar with Australia's defence related legislation as criminal penalties apply to individuals who transfer controlled items out of Australia without a permit. This information is particularly relevant if you are collaborating with others outside Australia for your research.

What technologies and items are controlled?

The Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) is a compilation of military technologies and commercial goods and technologies that are now regulated due to their ability to contribute to the development of military weaponry. The DSGL has two parts:

  • Part 1 – lists munitions (or military) items
  • Part 2 – list 'dual-use' items that may be used for commercial purposes but may also be used in military systems or contribute to the development of weaponry. The DSGL includes different types of dual use goods and technologies that might be relevant to research at Federation University (the list also applies to teaching and research consultancy activities):
  • Materials, chemicals, micro-organisms and toxins
  • Materials processing
  • Electronics
  • Computers
  • Telecommunications and information security
  • Sensors and lasers
  • Navigation and avionics
  • Marine
  • Aerospace and propulsion
  • Nuclear materials

You are advised to review the online DSGL tool developed by the Defence Export Control Office (DECO) to assist you in establishing whether your activities might be controlled and require a permit. A permit is required when exporting, supplying, brokering or publishing DSGL items.

What types of activities are controlled?

  • Exporting – sending DSGL technology or information to a source outside Australia in a format such as hard copy files, on a CD, USB or laptop.
  • Supplying – sending DSGL technology or information by 'intangible' means, such as via email, fax or by providing a password to access electronically stored information about restricted technology from within Australia to someone outside Australia.
  • Brokering – acting as an agent or intermediary to arrange the transfer of DSGL technology between two places located outside of Australia.
  • Publishing – placing information about items on the Munitions list (Part 1) of the DSGL in the public domain, or to a sector of the public, by publishing it on the internet or otherwise uncontrolled environment. The restrictions apply to any person living in Australia or an Australian citizen, resident or organisation located outside of Australia. The publication of information relating to technologies and items in the Dual-Use list (Part 2) of the DSGL is not restricted and no permit is required (see Exemption for Publication section below). Remember that these activities may require a permit if they involve items listed on the DSGL.


Controls on 'intangible' transfers (by email, fax or other types of electronic transfers) do not apply to information already 'in the public domain' or to 'basic scientific research'. These phrases are defined in the Definition of Terms section for the DSGL as:

  • In the public domain: a technology or software which has been made available without restrictions on its further dissemination. Note – copyright restrictions do not remove technology or software from being 'in the public domain'.
  • Basic scientific research: any 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.

Exemptions for publication

You do not need a permit to publish dual-use DSGL technology. However, the Minister for Defence may issue a notice prohibiting a person from publishing dual-use DSGL technology if the publication would prejudice Australia's security or international obligations. It is an offence for any person to knowingly contravene such a notice.

Difference between supply and publication under the Act

  • If information on a DSGL technology is published by placing it 'in the public domain', even if it can only be accessed by a payment, it will be a publication. This includes websites available to the public and journals which permit anyone to subscribe. It also includes brochures, blogs, websites, podcasts or databases that are not controlled.
  • If access to information on a DSGL technology is controlled or restricted to particular users or groups then it has not been placed 'in the public domain' and it will be a 'supply'. This includes closed conference websites where only members from a select organisation(s) or group(s) can access the conference papers.

DSGL online self-assessment tool

The Defence Export Control Office (DECO) has developed an online DSGL self-assessment tool to assist you to establish whether or not you will require a permit to export, supply, publish or broker controlled goods, software or technology. The tool has two parts: an Activity Questionnaire and the DSGL Search function, both of which are accessible at Online DSGL tool.

Note that all applications for permits must be submitted via Research Services. Research Services staff are available to assist you with self-assessments.

Training, support and enquiries

In addition to the online self-assessment tool mentioned above, DECO provides online Defence Export Controls Training. This is accessible at http://www.defence.gov.au/deco/Training.asp

A module on Export Controls is also included in the online Research Integrity training provided by Federation University.  For registrationlogin and details of modules please click on the following link to the Moodle shell:

Please note that individuals affiliated with Federation University Australia should NOT apply directly to DECO for permits. DECO has requested that universities submit all permit requests via an institutional 'client' registration number. Individuals wishing to apply must contact Research Services.

Defence trade controls vs sanctions

A different but overlapping area of Commonwealth regulation is Sanctions. Sanctions are measures not involving the use of armed force that are imposed in situations of international concern, including the grave repression of human rights, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery, or armed conflict. Sanctions impose restrictions on activities that relate to particular countries, goods and services, or persons and entities. Australian sanction laws implement United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions regimes and Australian Autonomous Sanctions regimes.

Sanctions may be relevant to presentations at conferences in sanctioned countries, to research collaborations with citizens from sanctioned countries in prohibited areas, to the provision of technical advice, assistance or training in sanctioned goods or technologies, and to the supervision of research students in areas of study that risk breaching sanctions.

More information on sanctions is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs sanctions page: http://dfat.gov.au/international-relations/security/sanctions/pages/sanctions.aspx

For further information, please contact: