Audit, Record Keeping and Sanctions


The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) may audit export licences in order to ensure compliance. If you have been issued with an export control licence, ensuring compliance and retaining records is critical in order to be able to comply with audit requirements. It is vital that you inform the Research Strategy and Services Division if you hold an export control licence by emailing

Record keeping is very important when using open licences. The University may also be asked, as part of the audit, to explain how they ensure compliance with exports of intangible technologies (e.g. through email or other electronic transfer). Therefore, retaining records is critical in order to be able to provide evidence of our compliance with the export law in case of an audit.

Record Keeping

In cases where an export control licence has been granted, records should be kept for a minimum of six years from the end of the year in which the export took place, or for the minimum length of time detailed in the licence.

Information that should be recorded is as follows:

  1. The Export Licence
  2. The nature of the export and a description of items exported
  3. The date of transfer for each item
  4. Details of the original source of the items (if not originating from Birmingham)
  5. Details of anyone involved in the export, including the consignee and end user
  6. Correspondence with the ECJU relating to the project and licence
  7. Any further records that are required to be kept under your licence.

It is essential that you notify the Research Strategy and Services Division if you hold an Export Control Licence by emailing This will ensure that your licence is included in the University’s central register, and that you receive advice and guidance with regards to compliance.

Non-compliance sanctions

Sanctions restrict certain forms of trade and can be imposed by EU and UN resolutions or by the UK acting unilaterally.

A breach of UK Export Controls is a criminal offence. Nonetheless, such a breach may not result in a criminal prosecution: administrative penalties (compound penalties) may be used to deal with accidental non-compliance followed by a voluntary disclosure to HMRC of the inadvertent breach. These are civil and not criminal penalties.

However, where technology is knowingly exported without a licence where one is required, then the question of full criminal enforcement arises. The criminal penalties for a clear breach of Export Controls can range from an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence of up to a maximum of 10 years.

Criminal Liability could operate at two levels:

  1. Institutions: those responsible for overseeing the management of the institution need to ensure they have adequate procedures in place so that investigators and researchers are aware of and directed to comply with export control legislation. Failure to do so could result in criminal liability.
  2. Individuals: If an individual investigator/researcher did not follow those procedures that investigator/researcher may be liable to criminal prosecution.


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