Controlled Goods and Technology

Controlled Goods and Technology

The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTCA) regulates the intangible supply, publication and brokering of goods and technology as listed in the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) and strengthens existing regulations on tangible exports under the Customs Act 1901, and regulation 13E of the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958.

The purpose of the DTCA is to protect the nation's safety by stopping sensitive goods and technology from falling into the wrong hands via intangible exports methods.

In your day-to-day practice, some of the areas most commonly affected by the DTCA include:

  • collaborating and communicating with international researchers;
  • submitting a grant application or report to a funding body overseas;
  • peer-reviewing grants and publications;
  • publishing or sharing your unpublished research findings;
  • presenting at international conferences; and
  • teaching courses available online to students overseas.

Export licenses are administered by the Defence Export Controls Office (DEC) at the Department of Defence, and permission must be obtained to export any item listed on the DSGL. Failure to adhere to these regulations may result in heavy fines and/or imprisonment for the individuals and organisations involved.

The information provided here is not comprehensive. It is therefore advised that you visit the DEC website to familiarise yourself with your obligations under the DTCA. We also recommend that researchers complete the DTCA iLearn unit if they have not already attended a face-to-face DTCA workshop. If you would like further guidance or if you require assistance to determine whether you need a permit, please contact

Regulated goods and technology

The DSGL is separated into two categories:

Part 1 - Munitions contains defence and related goods – those goods and technologies designed or adapted for use by the armed forces, or goods that are inherently lethal.

Part 2 – Dual Use includes equipment and technology developed to meet commercial needs, but which may also be used either as military components or for the development of military systems or weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The current list of Dual Use materials is further divided into the following categories:

0 – Nuclear Materials

1 – Materials, Chemicals, Microorganisms and Toxins

2 – Materials Processing

3 – Electronics

4 – Computers

5 – Telecommunications and Information Security

6 – Sensors and Lasers

7 – Navigation and Avionics

8 – Marine

9 – Aerospace and Propulsion

A quick reference guide to the DSGL and the complete list provide more information. DEC has also provided a search tool to assist you in determining whether the DTCA is relevant to your research. You are encouraged to use this tool and send a copy of the outcome report to

Regulated activities

Activities regulated under the DTCA, also known as “controlled activities, fall into three categories:

  1. Intangible Supply: Refers to the provision of non-physical technology from a person inside Australia to another person outside Australia via methods such as email, fax or the provision of a password to electronic files.

    This does not include instances where the supply is a pre-publication activity (i.e., emailing an article to an overseas journal, or to a colleague for review prior to publication), and some verbal supplies

    FAQs on intangible supply of DSGL technology provide further information.

  2. Publication: Refers to controlled military technology being placed in the public domain, and is applicable to anyone located in Australia, or an Australian citizen or resident currently located outside of Australia.

    FAQs on publication intangible supply of DSGL technology provide further information.

  3. Brokering: Is when a person or organisation in Australia acts as an agent or intermediary to arrange the transfer of controlled goods or technology between two places outside of Australia and receives a monetary, non-cash, political, ideological or religious benefit for arranging the supply.

    FAQs on the brokering intangible supply of DSGL technology provide further information.

DEC also provides an Activity Questionnaire to help you determine whether your research falls under the controlled activities.

The following table summarises the permit requirements under the DTCA:


Part 1 - Munitions

Part 2 - Dual-use


Permit required

Permit required

(some exceptions apply: most verbal and pre-publication)


Approval by Minister for Defence or delegate required

No approval required in most cases


Permit required

No permit required (unless for a WMD or military end-use)

 In specific cases, the Minister of Defence may issue a notice to prohibit a dual-use publication or brokering activity if there is reasonable belief that it would prejudice Australia’s security or international obligations.

Exemptions under the DTCA

The DTCA does not apply to information that has been placed in the “public domain” or to “basic scientific research”, and defines these terms as follows:

Public Domain means “technology or software which has been made available without restrictions upon its further dissemination (copyright restrictions do not remove ‘technology’ or ‘software’ from ‘being in the public domain’)” and

Basic Scientific Research means “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.” If your research can be classified as “pure basic” or “strategic basic” then it will generally be regarded as basic scientific research. On the other hand, the classifications “applied” or “experimental development” fall outside of this exemption.

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