Define: Deemed Export Licence

Deemed Export Licence
Deemed Export Licence
Quick Summary of Deemed Export Licence

A Deemed Export License allows for the transfer of controlled technology or technical data to foreign nationals within the United States. This transfer is considered to be an export to the individual’s home country and therefore requires a licence from the U.S. government.

Full Definition Of Deemed Export Licence

A “Deemed Export Licence” is a regulatory mechanism employed primarily within the framework of export control laws to govern the transfer of controlled technologies, information, and know-how to foreign nationals within a country’s borders. This concept is particularly significant in the context of national security and international trade compliance. The following overview aims to explore the legal basis, implications, and procedural aspects of the deemed export licence, with a particular focus on British law, while also drawing comparative references from international practices where relevant.

Legal Basis and Framework

UK Export Control Legislation

In the United Kingdom, the primary legislation governing export controls is the Export Control Act 2002, alongside the Export Control Order 2008. These regulations are designed to prevent the dissemination of sensitive technologies and information that could compromise national security or contribute to the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Definition of Deemed Exports

A “deemed export” refers to the release or transfer of controlled technology or information to a foreign national within the domestic borders of a country. Unlike traditional exports, which involve the physical shipment of goods across borders, deemed exports concern the intangible transfer of knowledge or technology. This can occur through various means such as oral communication, visual inspection, or the provision of technical assistance.

Key Elements of Deemed Export Control

Controlled Items and Technologies

The items and technologies subject to deemed export controls are typically those listed in the Strategic Export Control Lists, which include military goods, dual-use items (those with both civilian and military applications), and other sensitive technologies. The control lists are periodically updated to reflect emerging threats and technological advancements.

Foreign Nationals

In the context of deemed exports, a foreign national is an individual who does not possess citizenship or permanent residency status in the UK. The regulation of technology transfer to such individuals is crucial to preventing unauthorised access to sensitive information.

Licensing Requirements

Deemed Export Licences

A deemed export licence is required when a UK entity intends to transfer controlled technology or information to a foreign national within the UK. The process for obtaining this licence involves a thorough assessment by regulatory authorities to ensure that the transfer does not pose a threat to national security or contravene international obligations.

Application Process

  • Assessment of Controlled Technology: The first step involves determining whether the technology or information intended for transfer is listed on the Strategic Export Control Lists. This requires a detailed understanding of the technical specifications and potential uses of the technology.
  • Identifying the Foreign National: The next step is to identify the foreign national and assess their background, including their nationality, affiliations, and any previous engagements with sensitive technologies.
  • Submission of Application: The entity seeking the deemed export licence must submit a detailed application to the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU), providing comprehensive information about the technology, the foreign national, and the nature of the transfer.
  • Review and Approval: The ECJU conducts a thorough review of the application, often in consultation with other government agencies such as the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office. The review process may include security checks and risk assessments. If the application meets all regulatory requirements, the licence is granted, specifying the terms and conditions under which the transfer can occur.

Compliance and Enforcement

Obligations of UK Entities

UK entities, including businesses, academic institutions, and research organisations, must ensure compliance with deemed export regulations. This includes implementing robust internal controls, training personnel on export control laws, and maintaining accurate records of all technology transfers.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with deemed export regulations can result in severe penalties, including fines, revocation of export privileges, and criminal charges. The UK government takes violations seriously, particularly those that could undermine national security or international peace.

Comparative Perspective: United States

The concept of deemed exports is also prominent in the United States, governed by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). US regulations similarly require licences for the transfer of controlled technologies to foreign nationals within the US. However, the scope and specific requirements may vary, reflecting differences in national security priorities and regulatory frameworks.

Practical Considerations for UK Entities

Risk Management

To manage the risks associated with deemed exports, UK entities should conduct regular compliance audits and risk assessments. Identifying potential vulnerabilities in their processes and taking proactive measures to address them is essential for maintaining compliance.

Training and Awareness

Raising awareness among employees about the importance of export control laws and the specifics of deemed export regulations is crucial. Regular training sessions can help ensure that all personnel understand their roles and responsibilities in preventing unauthorised technology transfers.

Collaboration with Authorities

Maintaining open lines of communication with regulatory authorities, such as the ECJU, can facilitate compliance. Seeking guidance on complex issues and promptly reporting any potential breaches can help mitigate risks and demonstrate a commitment to lawful conduct.

Challenges and Developments

Technological Advancements

The rapid pace of technological advancement presents ongoing challenges for deemed export controls. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and quantum computing may require updated regulatory approaches to address their unique risks.

International Collaboration

Given the global nature of technology development and dissemination, international collaboration is crucial for effective export control. The UK participates in various international export control regimes, such as the Wassenaar Arrangement, to harmonise its regulations with those of other countries and enhance global security.

Case Studies

Academic Research and Deemed Exports

Universities and research institutions often engage in collaborative projects involving foreign nationals, making them significant stakeholders in deemed export compliance. Ensuring that research activities do not inadvertently result in unauthorised technology transfers is a critical concern. For instance, a university may need a deemed export licence to share specific research findings with a foreign PhD student.

Corporate Sector

In the corporate sector, multinational companies frequently deal with deemed export issues when employing foreign nationals or collaborating with international partners. Robust internal compliance programmes are essential to navigate the complexities of deemed export regulations. For example, a tech company developing dual-use software must ensure that its foreign employees do not have unlicensed access to the controlled aspects of the software.


Deemed export licences represent a critical component of the UK’s export control regime, designed to prevent the unauthorised dissemination of sensitive technologies and information. Compliance with these regulations requires a thorough understanding of the legal framework, diligent risk management, and ongoing collaboration with regulatory authorities. As technology continues to evolve, so too must the approaches to deemed export control, ensuring that national security is upheld without stifling innovation and international cooperation. By adhering to these principles, UK entities can navigate the complexities of deemed export regulations and contribute to global security efforts.

Deemed Export Licence FAQ'S

A deemed export license is a license issued by the government that allows the transfer of controlled technology or technical data to a foreign national within the United States. This transfer is considered to be an export, even though it does not involve physically sending the technology or data outside of the country.

A deemed export license is required when a foreign national, who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, will have access to controlled technology or technical data within the United States. This includes situations where the technology or data is shared through visual inspection, oral communication, or any other means.

Controlled technology or technical data refers to information, software, or technology that is subject to export control regulations. This can include information related to defence articles, dual-use items, or items with potential military applications.

To determine if the technology or data is controlled, you can refer to the Commerce Control List (CCL) or the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). These lists provide detailed information about the specific items that are subject to export control regulations.

The responsibility for obtaining a deemed export license lies with the U.S. person or organisation that intends to share the controlled technology or data with a foreign national. This can be an employer, university, research institution, or any other entity.

To apply for a deemed export license, you need to submit an application to the appropriate government agency, such as the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) or the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). The application will require detailed information about the technology or data, the foreign national involved, and the purpose of the transfer.

The processing time for a deemed export license can vary depending on the complexity of the application and the workload of the government agency. Generally, it can take several weeks to several months to receive a decision on the application.

Transferring controlled technology or data without a deemed export license can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. It is important to ensure compliance with export control regulations to avoid legal consequences.

No, a deemed export license is still required even if the foreign national is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The license requirement is based on the individual’s nationality, not their immigration status.

Yes, there are certain exceptions and exemptions to the deemed export license requirement. These can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the applicable export control regulations. It is advisable to consult with an export control attorney or the relevant government agency to determine if any exceptions or exemptions apply in your situation.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 6th June 2024.

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