Defence Trade Controls

Exterior of Swanston Academic Building

The export of defence and dual-use goods is restricted under the Customs Act 1901, the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulation 13E 1958, the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention and Proliferation) Act 1995 and the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTCA). Both tangible export (e.g. a physical item) and intangible supply (e.g. an email or publication) of controlled goods and technology is covered under these Acts.

The Defence Export Controls Office (DECO) is responsible to the Minister of Defence for regulating the export of defence and dual-use goods as part of Australia’s system of export controls.

Commitment to Export Control Compliance

RMIT University is committed to complying with Australian Export Controls

We will give priority to complying with all Australian export laws over our commercial and research interests.

We will develop, implement and maintain applicable processes and procedures that support our commitment to comply with export controls.

We will ensure our staff, students and affiliates are aware of export controls and the processes/procedures that support compliance.

University staff, students and affiliates will not export, supply, publish or broker controlled goods, software or technology unless authorised to do so by the relevant Australian Government agency.

We will maintain regular contact with export control regulators, including the Defence Export Controls Office (DECO) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

In the event of any doubt about a current or proposed activity, we will contact the responsible agency for information and advice.

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Defence and Strategic Goods List

Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL)

Controlled goods, software and technology are defined and listed in the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL). The DSGL is divided into two parts, as outlined below:

  • Part 1 – Defence and related goods and technologies (including software) that are designed or adapted for use by the armed forces, and non-military goods that are inherently lethal, incapacitating or destructive (e.g. commercial explosives); and
  • Part 2 – Dual-use goods and technologies (i.e. tangible and intangible items developed to meet legitimate commercial needs, but could be used as military components or to develop or produce military systems or weapons of mass destruction.

Part 2 of the DSGL is further split into the following ten categories:

    • Nuclear Materials
    • Materials, Chemicals, Micro-organisms and Toxins
    • Materials Processing
    • Electronics
    • Computers
    • Telecommunications and Information Security
    • Sensors and Lasers
    • Navigation and Avionics
    • Marine
    • Aerospace and Propulsion

A permit, licence or an approval from the Defence Export Controls Office (DECO) may be required before you physically take or send DSGL items out of Australia (export), broker DSGL items, publish DSGL technology or software, electronically send (supply) the DSGL software or technology out of Australia, or in some cases, speak at conferences.

To determine whether your particular research is affected, consult the Online DSGL Tool or contact

Customs Act

Customs Act

Under the Customs Act 1901 and the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulation 1958, a permit is required to export controlled goods or technologies in physical or tangible form. Tangible export activities that may require a permit include the export of any controlled goods that are sent or carried overseas for any purpose, including personal use, demonstration, repairs, or return to the manufacturer.

For example, a permit is required to take controlled technology stored on a physical medium such as a USB stick, CD or laptop hard-drive, outside of Australia. This includes if these items are carried in your hand-held or checked luggage.

If you intend to export DSGL goods or technology, please contact

Defence Trade Control Act 2012

Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTCA)

The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTCA), amended in April 2015, strengthened Australia’s existing export controls by adding controls for the intangible supply, publication and brokering of controlled software and technologies. 

Supply – a supply/export occurs when a person in Australia supplies or provides a person located outside Australia with access to DSGL technology by electronic means, for example by email, fax, telephone, video-conferencing, or providing access to an electronic file. More information.

Publication – publication is when DSGL technology is made available to the public or to a section of the public via the Internet or otherwise (e.g. journal articles, conference papers, blogs, websites, social media). Publication controls apply to anyone in Australia, or an Australia citizen, resident or organisation located anywhere in the world. More information.

Brokering – brokering is when a person or organisation acts as an agent or intermediary in arranging the supply of DSGL goods, software of technology between two places located outside of Australia. More information.

A permit is required from the Defence Export Controls Office (DECO) for the following activities:

DSGL Part 1 (military goods and technology)

DSGL Part 2 (dual-use goods and technology)

Tangible Export

Permit required

Permit required

Intangible Supply

Permit required

Permit required


Approval by Minister of Defence or his delegate required

No permit required


Permit required

No permit required (unless military end-use)

A permit will not be required if one of the following exemptions apply:

  • Controls on intangible supply and publication do not apply to ‘basic scientific research’, as defined in the DSGL as being:
    “…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 is ‘applied’ or ‘experimental developmental’ it may still be affected by the Act.
  • Controls do not apply to information that is already ‘in the public domain’, defined in the DSGL as being:

    "... 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").Please note: if access to the controlled technology is restricted to particular users or groups, it is not considered to be ‘in the public domain’ - for example, a conference paper where access is restricted to conference delegates, or a website or database with a login and password given to select members or organisations. In contrast, a publication with access requiring payment (e.g. a journal article available for purchase from a publisher’s website) is considered to be ‘in the public domain’."
  • Approval is not required to publish dual-use DSGL technology. However, the Minister for Defence may issue a notice prohibiting publication of certain dual-use technologies, if the publication would prejudice Australia’s security or international obligations.
  • Some pre-publication supplies of controlled dual-use technology are exempt from requiring a permit (e.g. sending a draft manuscript to an overseas co-author).
  • Most (but not all) supply via oral communication of controlled technology is exempt from requiring a permit. Examples of non-exempt verbal supply include orally providing a username and password to allow a person to access controlled technology via a restricted online database.
  • Approval is not required to supply the minimum necessary information required for patent applications (excluding military nuclear technology). This exemption applies to the supply of DSGL technology where it is done for the purpose of seeking a patent in Australia or overseas.
  • Equipment specially designed for medical end-use that incorporates an item controlled in Part 2 of the DSGL is not controlled

If you intend to supply, publish or broker DSGL goods or technology, please contact

Useful Links

Information is available on the DECO website to assist in understanding the legislation and assessment process established for managing controlled goods and technology.

DECO has also developed FAQs, scenarios and guides to help explain the impacts of the legislation on:


For further guidance or if you require assistance to determine whether you need a permit, please contact