1. What Are Dual-Use Goods?

Dual-use goods are items that can be used for both civilian and military applications. They are heavily regulated because they can be classified for civilian use and transformed for military purposes. 

To illustrate this, we can use electronics as an example. Components such as microprocessors, integrated circuits, and sensors are used in consumer electronics - like your TV at home - but also in military equipment, such as:

  • Radar systems
  • Guidance systems
  • Surveillance technology
  • Certain software products

But how does this tangibly relate to the world of sanctions compliance today? 

Here is a recent case. In late 2023, the US Department of Justice announced law enforcement had arrested four individuals and filed charges against multiple Russian nationals. What did they allegedly do? 

According to authorities, they were implicated in two schemes designed to circumvent sanctions and unlawfully transfer advanced dual-use US technology intended for use in sophisticated weapons systems to Russia.

2. How Do Global Sanctions Apply To Dual Use Goods?

Global sanctions impact the trade and transfer of dual-use goods by imposing restrictions and regulations to prevent their diversion for military purposes or to sanctioned entities or countries. 

In 2024, authorities responsible for enforcing sanctions, including the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the US and the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) in the UK, are intensifying their efforts to combat Russian sanctions evasion.

These sanctions typically involve export controls, licensing requirements, and trade embargoes. Companies and individuals exporting or transferring dual-use goods must adhere to strict compliance measures to avoid inadvertently violating sanctions regulations. 

Failure to comply with these sanctions can result in severe penalties, including fines, asset freezes, and legal consequences.

Recommended reading: 2024 Update: US Doubles Down on Global Applicability of OFAC Sanctions

3. How To Know if Your Goods Are Dual-Use Controlled?

Amid technical complexity and a rapidly changing global sanctions environment, it can be challenging to ascertain if your product or service is categorized as a dual-use good.

To determine if your products are dual-use controlled goods, your organization can follow these steps:

Consult Official Lists

You can refer to official lists provided by regulatory agencies such as the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the United States, the European Union's Dual-Use Regulation, and the UK's Export Control Joint Unit.

These lists outline items and technologies considered dual-use and subject to export controls and sanctions.


Your business may also utilize classification tools offered by regulatory agencies to assess your goods. The process entails analyzing your products' technical specifications and functionalities to ascertain if they fit within dual-use categories. 

It's crucial to remember that requirements can vary depending on your operational jurisdictions. For instance, in the UK, the Export Control Organisation, the regulatory authority for export licensing of military and dual-use goods, offers OGEL and Goods Checker Tools.

Seek Professional Advice

Consult with trade compliance experts or legal professionals specializing in export control regulations. They can provide guidance on classifying your goods and help ensure compliance with relevant sanctions and export laws and regulations.

4. Consequences of Breaking Dual-Use Goods Sanctions and Export Control Laws

Breaking dual-use goods sanctions and export control laws can have severe consequences, including legal and reputational ramifications. For example, all the following are a possibility:

  • Legal Penalties
  • Criminal Liability
  • Loss of Export Privileges
  • Reputational Damage
  • Restricted Market Access:
  • Increased Regulatory Scrutiny

For example, in May 2023, the UK government disclosed that it fined a UK company (the notice did not name the company) almost £1 million for breaching sanctions against Russia for exporting dual-use or military goods without the necessary license.

It's also important to remember that law enforcement can prosecute individuals for breaking sanctions and export controls on dual-use goods. 

In late 2023, a court in the Netherlands sentenced a Russian-Dutch businessman to prison for violating EU sanctions. His offense involved selling computer chips to companies "closely related" to Russia's defense sector. According to a statement by the Rotterdam District Court, the individual in question transformed sanctions evasion into a "revenue model."

5. Sanctions Screening Your Customers Is Vital

Tailoring risk-based compliance measures, such as sanctions screening, specifically to each company's needs when dealing with sanctions is crucial. This customization is essential for minimizing the risk of sanctions violations.

A fundamental facet of complying with sanctions and export control laws on dual-use goods is screening your customers against the major global sanctions lists, as well as those relevant to your operational jurisdictions.

For example, the US Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) oversees the export control of dual-use items and recommends the screening against the following US governmental lists:

  • Denied Persons List
  • Unverified List
  • Entity List 
  • Specially Designated Nationals List
  • Debarred List

Thanks to advancements in regulatory technology, it's now possible in 2024 to efficiently screen hundreds of sanctions lists from jurisdictions worldwide with unprecedented speed and accuracy. 

Leveraging tools like sanctions.io's developer-friendly and easy-to-implement RESTful API, which boasts an uptime of over 99.99%, your organization can significantly mitigate the risk of failing to comply with dual-use goods sanctions laws. 

Final Thoughts and How sanctions.io Supports Dual-Use Goods Sanctions Compliance

Navigating the complexities of dual-use goods sanctions compliance requires a proactive approach and a comprehensive understanding of regulatory requirements. 

In today's world, where global tensions persist and regulatory enforcement intensifies, businesses must prioritize robust compliance measures. Western governments, in particular, are exerting pressure to ensure the effectiveness of sanctions, especially against entities like Russia. 

Need help?

sanctions.io is a highly reliable and cost-effective solution for sanctions screening. AI-powered and with an enterprise-grade API with 99.995+% uptime are reasons why customers globally trust us with their sanctions screening needs. To learn more:

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