Definition of dual-use items

Dual-use items are goods, technology and software that can be used for both civil and military purposes.

This includes all goods which can be used for both non-explosive uses and assisting in any way in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

They are subject to controls which are applied in a uniform and coherent way throughout the European Union in order to promote the security of the European Union, the international security and equitable conditions of competition for the exports of the European Union.


  • a computer or software of a certain capacity, an electronic or mechanical component can enter into the manufacture of technological equipment or missiles;
  • a viral strain that exists naturally (Ebola, etc.) can be used for medical research, but could also be used as a biological weapon;
  • a chemical product sold in large quantities can be used for industrial use or for the production of chemical weapons;
  • a machine tool or equipment may be used for conventional industry or used in the nuclear field.

Certain dual-use items are listed in detail, in order to subject them to restrictive measures regarding their export, import, transit, brokering, technical assistance and intangible transfer of technology.

Dual-use items listed in Annex I to Regulation (EC) 2021/821

These are the items covered by the international agreements on the control of dual-use items, comprising the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Australia Group and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

They are classified in 10 categories:

Category 0 – Nuclear materials, facilities and equipment
Category 1 – Special materials and related equipment
Category 2 – Materials processing
Category 3 – Electronics
Category 4 – Computers
Category 5 – Telecommunications and "information security"
Category 6 – Sensors and lasers
Category 7 – Navigation and avionics
Category 8 – Marine
Category 9 – Aerospace and propulsion


DU code: each dual-use item is classified by an alphanumeric reference structured as follows:

Number – Letter – Number – Number – Number
(for example: 1 C 350 or 5 A 002)

The first digit (from 0 to 9) refers to the goods category.
The letter (from A to E) related to the nature of the goods (A for equipment, assemblies, components; B for testing, inspection, control, production equipment; C for materials and material; D for software; E for technologies).
The second digit (from 0 to 4) refers to the non-proliferation group initiating the control (0 for Wassenaar Arrangement; 1 for MTCR; 2 for NSG; 3 for Australia Group; 4 for Chemical Weapons Convention).
The last 2 digits refer to the technical characteristics that make it possible to identify the good (for example, threshold, power, number of axes of rotation, etc.).
For any administrative and customs procedure, the alphanumeric entry must be completed by the corresponding sub-labels (for example: 1 C 351 a 1).
A product may, because of its technical characteristics, be classified in several categories. No category predominates over another.

It is up to the operator to determine for himself whether his product is likely to be classified as a "dual-use item". For this purpose, the operator must compare the technical characteristics of the product with the criteria contained, for each item listed, in Annex I to Regulation (EC) 2021/821.

Customs authorities are not required to accept the tariff code selected by the operator. To obtain the guarantee of a tariff classification valid throughout the European Union, the operator may lodge a binding tariff information request (RTC) with Administration des douanes et accises.

There is no direct link between the CN code (combined nomenclature) of the product and DU codes for dual-use items. However, a correlation table indicates, for each CN code, a list of possible DU codes in which the good concerned may fall. This does not constitute a legally binding document, and the operator needs to review, and provide OCEIT with the relevant documentation, why such a DU code (associated with the CN code in the correlation table I does, or does not, correspond to the characteristics of the good in question.

A good (or a facility) that is not controlled shall be submitted to such a control if it contains a "controlled" component, and if that component is the main element and can in practice be detached and used as a component for other purposes.

Dual-use items listed in Annex I to Regulation (EC) 2021/821

They are classified in 2 parts:

Part I

  • items of stealth technology;
  • items of the Community strategic control;
  • Items of the Community strategic control — Cryptography — Category 5 — Part 2;
  • items of the MTCR technology.

Part II

  • items of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC);
  • items of the NSG technology.

Dual-use items not listed in Annex I or IV to Regulation (EC) 2021/821

Even if they are not listed in Annex I or Annex IV of Regulation (EC) 2021/821, dual-use items are subject to certain restrictions regarding their export, import, transit, brokering, technical assistance and intangible transfer of technology.

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