Notice to exporters 2020/10: Processing licence applications during coronavirus (COVID-19)

15 April 2020



As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has led to more remote working for both Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) staff and exporters alike, this is affecting the ability to manage export licence applications and supporting documentation.

We are aware that it is important for you to maintain business operations across the supply chain, including the requirement to ensure export licence approvals are in place. With many employees working from home, there may be constraints on your ability to process export licence documentation consistently.

You, your overseas customers and UK suppliers may all be experiencing difficulties in sending and receiving original documents by the post, making it difficult for you to comply with:

  • supplying ‘wet signatures’ on end user undertakings and similar documents
  • obtaining supporting documentation to respond to requests for further information (RFIs)

Interim arrangements

The following arrangements will stay in place until further notice:

  • the response time for RFIs has been increased from 20 to 40 working days
  • we do not require exporters to obtain original copies of end user and stockist undertakings - we will accept digital/electronic signatures on supporting documentation (including pdf versions of end user undertakings and stockist undertakings)
  • for exporting firearms and ammunition to EU member states, we are amending the EC3 and EC4 forms on GOV.UK to an ‘unlocked’ Word document to enable us to add the details in box 9 and 10 electronically - we will email the completed signed/stamped EC3, but you will not receive a hard copy by post
  • you should upload Word versions of EC3 and EC4 forms into SPIRE, not PDFs
  • for dual use goods located in another EU member state, and for which we are required to consult those licensing authorities, we will no longer be issuing a hard copy of the licence for presentation to EU member state’s customs - print a copy of the licence from SPIRE (with the green tick) for presentation

We will accept the following types of electronic signatures:

  • simple electronic signatures – these include scanned signatures and tick box, plus declarations
  • advanced electronic signatures – these are uniquely linked to the signatory, are capable of identifying the signatory, and are linked to data within the signature that can detect any changes made
  • qualified electronic signatures – an advanced electronic signature created by a qualified electronic signature creation device, based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures

Please also see Notice to Exporters 2020/08 for further information on export licence handling.


Kindly supplied by GOV.UK


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