What Is A Dangerous Goods Licence?

Compliance Knowledge Base | Customs Controls

Posted by: Rosie Anderson Published: Fri, 19 Jul 2019 Last Reviewed: Fri, 19 Jul 2019
What Is A Dangerous Goods Licence?

Dangerous goods are materials or items with physical and chemical properties that must be properly controlled. If dangerous goods are not managed and handled safely, they present a potential hazard to human health and safety, infrastructure and/or their means of transport when being shipped. There are 9 classes of dangerous goods:

  • Class 1 – Explosives
  • Class 2 – Gases
  • Class 3 – Flammable liquids
  • Class 4 – Flammable solids
  • Class 5 – Oxidising agents and organic peroxides
  • Class 6 – Toxins and infectious substances
  • Class 7 – Radioactive material
  • Class 8 – Corrosives
  • Class 9 – Miscellaneous dangerous goods

Dangerous Goods Note and Declaration for Dangerous Goods

The shipper is responsible for the safe transportation of dangerous goods to their destination. All goods should be correctly declared, packed and labelled with the correct documentation for the countries of origin, transit and destination. Dangerous goods shipments must have either a Dangerous Goods Note (DGN) or a Declaration for Dangerous Goods (for air transport) completed. This will include information about the nature, quantity of goods and other handling information.

You can find out if the goods you are shipping are dangerous by checking to see if they have a Material Data Safety Sheet or by taking a look at the UN Dangerous Goods List within the UN Model Dangerous Goods Regulations. If you need a dangerous goods note, it must be completed by the consignor. All dangerous goods will have a UN number (for example UN 0005, UN 0006). The UN Model Dangerous Goods Regulations form the basis of any Dangerous Goods legislation set out by bodies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the ADR (concerning European road transport), International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). They can all advise on how to handle and transport your dangerous goods.

What does the Dangerous Goods Note do?

The Dangerous Goods Note (DGN) is a transport document that gives details about the contents of a consignment to carriers, receiving authorities and forwarders. It's an essential part of shipping dangerous goods because it explains how they should be handled and packaged safely. The same standard document can be completed for all consignments of dangerous goods, even if they're going to different ports or Inland Container Depots (ICD). A DGN is used when you transport goods using any form of transport except air freight. For air freight transport, the IATA Declaration of Dangerous Goods is used instead.

It's very important to use DGN, as the receiving authority need complete and accurate information about the dangerous goods in order to handle them safely and legally. Using a DGN means that everyone who encounters your goods has enough information at each movement stage. It's a criminal offence to ignore legislation, but more importantly, improper control over dangerous goods can cause significant and devasting damage to human health and infrastructure.

What Is A Dangerous Goods Licence?

Import and Export Licences

Customs Clearance Procedure is upheld by the customs duty office. This system is designed to prevent illegal and prohibited items entering the country, as well as to determine the number of duties to be paid when importing foods that are subjected to taxation under the local law. Due to these regulations, you need an import or export licence when transporting dangerous goods. The potential use of the item and where you're exporting it to/importing it from determining the licence requirements. There are different licences depending on the nature of the dangerous goods.

Whether or not you need an export licence for your goods will be determined by various factors, including:

  • The nature of the goods
  • Where they're being exported to
  • The end use of the goods.

It can be difficult to determine whether the goods you're exporting require a licence. You can check online through the UK Strategic Export Control Lists, which lists all the items that require a licence. You can submit a licence application electronically via the online system SPIRE. When you make your application, you'll need the technical specifications and End User Undertakings of your goods.

Types of Licences

There are a variety of different types of licences that you may be able to use to export your goods. For example:

  • Open General Export Licences (OGELs): These licences are available for less restricted exports to less restricted destinations. OGELs are pre-published licences with set terms and conditions which you must adhere to. There are currently over 40 OGELs available which cover a wide range of circumstances. For example, some are for military goods and others are for dual-use goods. If you regularly export restricted items, being an OGEL holder is incredibly advantageous, as it can potentially benefit your business by saving you time and money.
  • Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs): If your goods, technology, software, destination or situation is not covered by an OGEL, you will need to apply for a Standard Individual Export Licence (SIEL).
  • Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs): This type of licence is designed to cover long-term contracts, projects and repeat business.

Case study

In May 2019, HMRC issued a compound penalty of over £10,000 to a UK citizen who was brokering unlicensed trading of body armour. 'Brokering' includes activities such as arranging supply from overseas, dropshipping or arranging intra-company transfers. Even though the goods weren't exported from the UK, the activity required a trade control licence as the company involved was based in the UK. This shows how HMRC are increasing their enforcement over prosecuting illegal and unlicensed trade. Inadvertent transgressions are covered by strict liability offences, and deliberate evasion of export controls can lead to almost a decade in prison.

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