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Australian Export Controls and the Life Sciences

A guide to understanding export control laws regarding the physical export, intangible supply, publication or brokering of life sciences related goods, software or technology

This Guide has been developed to assist academics, researchers, laboratories and research centres to understand how Australia’s export control laws apply to the export, supply, publication or brokering of proliferation-sensitive, life sciences related goods, software and technology.

A printer-friendly version of this guide is also available.

1: Do export controls apply to you?

The Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) is the list that specifies the goods, software and technologies that are subject to export control administered by Defence. A permit is required when exporting, supplying, brokering or publishing ‘DSGL-listed items’ , unless there is an exemption. Controls on life sciences related goods, software and technology listed in the DSGL apply to all sectors in the same way. They are part of a wider national and international regulatory counter-proliferation framework. Compliance with export controls is a serious obligation but it is manageable. This Guide will help you assess if export controls apply to your circumstances. 

IMPORTANT: Throughout this guide, where we refer to ‘DSGL technology’, without further reference to either goods or software, the term means both “technology ” and “software ”. There will be, however, limited circumstances for researchers in the life sciences sector where the “software ” controls will be relevant.

Many activities taking place within the academic community consist of information that is “basic scientific research ” or that is “in the public domain ”. Such information is exempt from export controls. For example, undergraduate teaching will be outside the scope of export controls because teaching generally does not address controlled technology, and the material used for teaching is generally already in the public domain. The same may not be true of postgraduate teaching which may involve applied or experimental research that inherently is not in the public domain. If the postgraduate teaching is based in Australia but will teach students located overseas, the supply of ‘DSGL technology’ may require a permit if it involves unpublished information. It is important to note that, the supply of ‘DSGL technology’ from teacher to student within Australia is not subject to export controls.

IMPORTANT: You will not require a permit if:

Annex 1 contains case studies of scenarios illustrating the circumstances where a permit may, or may not apply.

Next: How do I apply for export advice or an export permit?