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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

3: Overview of export controls

Australia’s export control system is part of an international and national effort to stem the proliferation of conventional, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and the systems that deliver them. Many goods, software and technologies designed for legitimate civil purposes can also contribute to the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) or be used for a military end-use. One of the key objectives of export controls is to prevent the misuse of such proliferation-sensitive technology.

Australia is a signatory to many international treaties and conventions, and a member of several export control regimes, all of which serve our national interests and contribute to the global effort aimed at reducing the risk of proliferation. Each export control regime assesses whether goods, software or technologies are able to contribute to a WMD or military end-use and publishes a list of controlled goods, software and technologies.

Australia’s control list, the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL), is drawn directly from the control lists agreed to by the export control regimes. The DSGL has two parts; Part 1 is the listing of controlled military items, and Part 2 is the controlled dual-use items. More information on International Export Control Regimes and Treaties, and the DSGL is available at

IMPORTANT: The listing of goods, software and technologies on the DSGL does not mean that the export, supply, publication or brokering of the item is prohibited; just that a permit may be required.

3.1: What do you mean by export, supply, publication and brokering?

Exporting occurs when ‘DSGL-listed items’ leave Australia in tangible form, when it is intended that they be landed outside Australia. It includes items that are being sold, for demonstration, for research or teaching purposes, or being returned to a manufacturer or agent for repair. It also includes controlled software and technology stored on a physical medium, such as a USB drive, laptop, hard drive or CD that leaves Australia. Exports include scenarios where the software or technology is stored on a media storage device that is sent via postal service, or is carried in hand-held or checked-in luggage.

Supply occurs when a person in Australia sends or provides access to DSGL-listed software or technology to another person outside of Australia; i.e. the supply of information that is transmitted electronically. Examples of supply include sending DSGL-listed software or technology via email or fax, or providing someone outside of Australia with a password to access DSGL-listed software or technology stored electronically.

Publication is when DSGL-listed software or technology is made available to the public, or to a section of the public, via the internet or otherwise. Publication controls apply to anyone in Australia, or an Australian citizen or resident or Australian organisation located anywhere in the world.

EXAMPLE: The emailing of research that documents the method and steps to alter the pathogenicity of a DSGL-listed pathogen from Australia to a person overseas is a supply and requires a permit. Placing that same set of instructions on a public website for anyone to access is publishing.

Brokering is when a person or organisation acts as an agent or intermediary in arranging the supply of ‘DSGL-listed items’ between two places located outside of Australia, and they receive a benefit for arranging that supply.

IMPORTANT: Research collaboration will typically not be subject to brokering controls.

Further guidance on each of these activities is available on our website:

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