Control policy for strategic goods and services

‘Strategic goods’ refers to both military goods (e.g. firearms) and dual-use goods. As the name suggests, dual-use goods not only have a civilian use; they can also be used to produce weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles or conventional military goods.

To prevent misuse, the export of strategic goods and services requires a licence. A licence application will be denied if the risk of misuse is deemed to be too great.

Strategic goods and services

Dutch export control policy focuses on 4 categories:

  1. Military goods. These include tanks, firearms and munitions, and certain types of bulletproof vests.
  2. Dual-use goods. These are goods with both civil and military applications. For example, certain fire retardants used in the construction industry can also be used to manufacture poison gas. Other types of dual-use goods include testing and production equipment, and certain materials, software and technology.
  3. Strategic services. Strategic services are services that relate in some way to strategic goods. These include the non-physical transfer (e.g. via phone or email) of programs and technology, the provision of technical assistance and the provision of brokering services. Repairing and maintaining military or dual-use goods and teaching people how to use them also constitute strategic services, as do certain types of software deliveries.
  4. ‘Torture goods and services’. Guillotines, thumbscrews, electric shock devices, pepper spray and narcotics are all examples of ‘torture goods’. Depending on the item in question (and associated technical assistance or brokering services), export is either regulated or prohibited on the basis of an EU anti-torture regulation.

Export control policy for strategic goods

Dutch export control policy for strategic goods is based on the following principles:

  • The Netherlands does not contribute to the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or delivery systems for such weapons.
  • The Netherlands does not issue licences for the export of military or dual-use goods if they will contribute to human rights violations, internal repression, international aggression or instability.
  • In deciding whether to issue a licence, security interests take precedence over economic interests.
  • The Netherlands does not want to impose an unnecessary administrative burden on companies. And the Netherlands is committed to ensuring an international level playing field for Dutch companies.
  • Export controls take place prior to export.

Military goods

This policy is based on the EU Common Position on Arms Export Controls. The essence of our export control policy on military goods is the assessment of licence applications on the basis of 8 criteria:

1. Respect for international obligations

This criterion relates mainly to sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and the European Union, and to treaties on non-proliferation and other subjects, as well as other international obligations.

2. Respect for human rights and international humanitarian law

This encompasses both respect for human rights in the country of final destination and compliance by that country with international humanitarian law.

3. Internal conflicts

The internal situation in the country of final destination, as a function of the existence of tensions or armed conflicts.

4. Regional stability

Preservation of regional peace, security and stability.

5. National security

This relates to the security of the member states, to territories whose external relations are the responsibility of a member state, and to the territories of friendly and allied countries.

6. Attitude towards the international community

The behaviour of the buyer country with regard to the international community, as regards in particular its attitude to terrorism, the nature of its alliances and respect for international law.

7. Risk of diversion

Existence of a risk that the military technology or equipment will be diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions.

8. Compatibility of arms exports with a country’s technical and economic capacity

Compatibility of the exports of the military technology or equipment with the technical and economic capacity of the recipient country, taking into account the desirability that states should meet their legitimate security and defence needs with the least possible diversion of human and economic resources for armaments.

Dual-use goods

The export of dual-use goods from the Netherlands often requires an export licence. The goods subject to a licensing requirement are listed in annex I of EU Regulation 428/2009. Article 12 of this regulation sets out a number of considerations which the Dutch export authorities must take into account in assessing an application for an export licence. Annex I of the regulation is regularly updated

Exporting military goods from the Netherlands generally requires a licence. Likewise, the export of dual-use goods or related services to a final destination outside the EU often requires a licence.

You can find more information about the distinction between military and dual-use goods and about licensing rules in the User Guide on Strategic Goods and Service.

‘Torture goods’

Restrictions may also apply to the export of ‘torture goods’. These can be found in Regulation (EC) 1236/2005, known as the EU Anti-Torture Regulation. A general prohibition applies to torture goods appearing in Annex II of this regulation. This means that it is not permitted to deal in these goods or in services related to these goods. There is only one exception to this rule: goods of historical significance that are intended to be displayed in a museum.

A licensing requirement is also in effect for goods that can be used not only for torture or capital punishment, but also for ‘normal’ applications, for example in the field of medicine. These goods are listed in Annex III and IIIb. Controls are also in place with regard to technical assistance and brokering services in relation to these goods. You can find more information on the website of the Dutch customs authorities under ‘Folterwerktuigen‘.

International sanctions

Sometimes the international community will impose sanctions, which can entail additional restrictions. For more information, please see international sanctions. If you have any questions, call the Public Information Service on 1400. 

See also

Ministry responsible