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Export of dual-use items

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

When exporting items from the European Customs Union to countries outside the Customs Union (so-called 'third countries'), there is a lot to take into account. One aspect often forgotten by exporters is the question whether the product is a 'dual-use' item. This question has recently become very relevant due to the war in Ukraine and the (expanded) sanctions against Russia. After reading this blog, you will know what to consider when selling and/or exporting dual-use items.

Dual-use items are products, services and technologies that can be used for both civilian and military purposes. To prevent misuse, dual-use items are subject to strict(er) export regulations. For example, in the European Customs Union, the export of these items and services are subject, among other things, to a licensing requirement. These include various items in the following categories (which the legislation again subdivides into different sections):

Category 0 Nuclear goods, facilities and materials

Category 1 Special materials and related equipment

Category 2 Material processing

Category 3 Electronics

Category 4 Computers

Category 5 Telecommunications and data protection

Category 6 Sensors and lasers

Category 7 Navigation and avionics

Category 8 Marine and ships

Category 9 Space and propulsion

Whether a license is actually necessary ultimately depends, among other things, on the item and the final destination/end user, although due to stricter sanctions legislation as a result of the war in Ukraine, more and more (dual-use) items are not allowed to be exported at all. On the other hand, exceptions also apply to humanitarian goods such as medicines and food.

An exporter must apply for a permit from the Central Import and Export Office (in Dutch: 'Centrale Dienst voor In- en Uitvoer', CDIU).

In practice, it will not always be easy for you as an exporter to determine whether your product is a dual-use item at all. Or, to put it another way: what your product actually is in a customs law context ("classification"). Classifying your item requires specific knowledge of the item, its (possible) use and the applicable customs legislation. Wolfs Advocaten is more than happy to assist you.

Please note: the export of a dual-use item without a license constitutes an economic offence.

The export of items to Russia is subject to many more and stricter export restrictions. The list of items that cannot be exported to Russia keeps on growing.

In addition, when selling dual-use items within the Customs Union (i.e., not to third countries), it is also important to consider to whom the items are being sold. Or rather: who is going to be the end user of the dual-use items.

Suppose company A (the Netherlands) sells a dual-use item to company B (Germany), but the items are ultimately being used by an Iranian customer of the German company. Then, as a seller, you are still in violation. In practice, an end-user declaration is therefore often requested from the German company.

Need advice?

Do you have questions regarding the import or export of your items or the application of export restrictions? Feel free to contact one of our lawyers.


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