Incorrect export licence references on commercial documentation cause delays to exports from the UK

The government’s export control department has issued new advice to traders explaining how to avoid delays when exporting controlled dual-use items from the UK.

The Department for International Trade’s Export Control Joint Unit often shares advice and updates about relevant rule changes via its ‘Notice to Exporters’ bulletin.

‘Be careful’

HMRC has advised the ECJU that firms exporting controlled dual-use items may be experiencing delays with their shipments because they are using incorrect licence references in their customs documentation.

IOE&IT Export Control Profession chair, Roger Arthey, advised traders to read the Notice to Exporters regarding these delays and advised them to “be careful” to submit the correct information to HMRC.

“Exporters of dual-use goods which require export authorisation should ensure that they are registered for the appropriate export licence(s) and be careful to put all relevant information on shipping documents to avoid unnecessary delays,” he said.


If open general licences (OGELs) are to be used, the relevant conditions and requirements of each licence should be reviewed before use.

Registration requirements and how to declare these licences on your export paperwork (if applicable) are detailed in each open licence.


After registering on SPIRE, you will receive a unique licence registration number for the relevant open general export licence (OGEL) – for example, GBOGE2021/xxxxxxx. This is shown in your SPIRE workbasket.

The licence number and licence name should be referenced on accompanying commercial documentation.

You must ensure you enter the required details in Box 44 of the Single Administrative Document (SAD)/Customs Declaration, to permit the specific export. If you do not do this, your goods may be stopped by HMRC.

Members of the ECP or IOE&IT can get further support with any control-related queries via either the Export Controls Helpline or IOE&IT Technical Helpdesk.