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Export control - in collaborations involving sensitive technology

KTH performs research that can have both civilian and military applications. This means that KTH must ensure that the university handles questions about the export of controlled technology and knowledge in accordance with current laws and regulations.

The basic rule is that nothing subject to export controls may be exported, transferred, disseminated or offered without first obtaining the relevant export licence or ascertaining that none is legally required. Products subject to export controls include systems, equipment and components, as well as software, technical information, and sometimes also services such as education or research.

Before advanced technology is disseminated or forwarded, KTH must establish whether any type of export control exists. Normally, this means to establish whether:

  1. It is permitted to send the product in question.
  2. The necessary licences have been obtained.
  3. The conditions of the licence have been complied with. Achieving this requires all employees to do their part, at least to the extent that the issue comes to their attention. More is required of operation managers.

When intending to send an item that may require an export licence, employees must report this to an export control officer at the Research Support Office, RSO, ( ). Exactly what is expected of the different employees is described in the regulation Tasks and decision-making power within export control  that reflects the legislation. KTH's export control programme (number V-2023-0312) (pdf 620 kB)  describes more of the legislation and advice on how it can be complied with at KTH.

Every employee responsible for an operation (e.g. research manager, course coordinator, programme director) is also responsible for classifying products, software, and technical information within that operation. In addition, that person must assess the operational risks linked to aspects of export control. To support this a Checklist (version 2.5, updated 231220) (docx 1.1 MB)  is available that should be filled-in at the start of all projects, and also when relevant changes take place in a project.

Support for staff at KTH

Export control officers at RSO provide support and inform staff at KTH about issues relating to export control.

Product classifications usually require the export control officer and operation manager or other technically qualified staff member to work together. Export control officers prepare and administer licence applications for employees at KTH. Environments that process their own applications send copies of the applications and any licences to the export control officers.

Export control at KTH

There are three basic questions that anyone wishing to transfer or export an item must ask:

  • What is being exported/transferred?
  • Where and to whom is it being exported/transferred?
  • Why is it being exported/transferred?

An example of export or transfer might be taking demonstration models to a conference, selling off obsolete equipment, researching or teaching for a foreign principal, sharing program code online, or publishing in international journals. In some cases, it may also pertain to education or research being conducted in Sweden.

What shall be exported/transferred?

There are two regulations to observe in order to determine whether an item is subject to export controls: the first refers to military equipment, and the second refers to dual-use items.

Military equipment is equipment that is especially designed for military use, and technical assistance is technical support related to military equipment. The Military Equipment Act (1992:1300)  and the Ordinance (1992:1303) on military equipment regulate license requirements and obligations. The products, software or technical information that constitute military equipment and technical assistance for such equipment are defined in the Annex to the Ordinance on Military Equipment, known as the military equipment list . For equipment that is considered military equipment, licence requirements apply for the following activities: manufacture, supply, supply abroad, export from Sweden, transit through Sweden, agreements on manufacturing rights, cooperation agreements, amendment of agreements, and military training. All staff who suspect they may be handling products classified as military equipment must contact an export control officer at RSO ( ).

Dual-use items are products (items, software, technical information) designed for civilian use, but with such properties that they can also be used for military applications. Many dual-use items require an export licence. Some require a licence for transfer within the EU. When sending a dual-use item subject to export control, the recipient must also be notified about the matter.

In order to know whether an item being sent is a dual-use item subject to a licence requirement, a check must be made to determine whether it is listed in Annex I of the EU Regulation on dual-use export controls. The current list is referred to in this Checklist (version 2.5, updated 231220) (docx 1.1 MB) .

Products that require a licence for transfer within the EU are listed in a separate annex. See also the Export Control Programme or contact the export control officers  at RSO. Some examples of products subject to transfer controls within the EU are blasting equipment, hydrophones, missile technology, cryptography and nuclear technology.

If products, items, software, technical information, originate from the United States, regulations regarding US-controlled products may also need to be taken into account. Dual-use products originating from the United States are listed in the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), while military equipment is regulated in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

Where and to whom shall it be exported/transferred?

It is important to know the recipient of the exported/transferred item. This applies whether it is something that is shipped, or transferred electronically or verbally, to recipients in a third country, or recipients from a third country. Actions taken to assess the risks related to the export of products to end users and end uses are known as due diligence.

To exercise due diligence includes paying attention to warning signs such as:

  • Difficulty finding information about an end user/collaboration partner or their organisation.
  • The end user/collaboration partner has links to the military, defence industry or government authority in a country subject to arms embargoes, while the end use is stated as being civilian.
  • The end user/collaboration partner gives no reference to a website, or refers to an unconvincing website.
  • The end user/collaboration partner is reluctant or vague when explaining why they want to collaborate or share information.

Sanctions are in place against certain countries, companies/organisations or individuals. These can prevent transactions, even if an item is not a dual-use item subject to a licence requirement. The UN, EU or OSCE (OSSE in Swedish) decides on sanctions applicable in Sweden. Sanctions may be in the form of an arms embargo, financial sanctions, or bans on equipment that could be used to repress a country’s own population. Transactions with recipients located in sanctioned countries may be entirely feasible but require careful analysis. Note that special sanctions may apply in the handling of products originating from the United States.

There are various aids to identifying whether sanctions exist, one of them being the EU sanctions map .

Why shall it be exported/transferred?

The purpose of exporting/transferring a product (items, software, technical information) also needs to be taken into account when considering export control. Licence requirements may vary depending on the end use or purpose of an export/transfer.

There is a ‘catch-all provision’ (general clause) in the EU’s Regulation on dual-use items, which means that if the exporter is aware that a product or technology may be used for weapons of mass destruction, it is subject to export control regardless of whether or not it is listedin Annex I of the Regulation (control list). See Article 4 (EU) 2021/821

Factors to pay attention to include, among other things, whether the purpose is military, whether it concerns cyber surveillance, or whether something is to be integrated into another construction, e.g. integrating software into a product intended for military use.

Here too, the exporter needs to pay attention to warning signs:

  • The end user/collaboration partner is reluctant or vague in explaining the end use.
  • Unusual requirements are set or requests made regarding confidentiality when it comes to partners, deliveries or research specifications

Relevant documents

Checklist (version 2.5, updated 231220) (docx 1.1 MB)

KTH guidelines: Tasks and decision-making power within export control

KTH's export control programme (number V-2023-0312) (pdf 620 kB)