Notice to Exporters 2018/02: guidance on completing MOD form 680 applications
Published 29 January 2018
This guidance applies to both established and new companies, irrespective of size and position in the supply chain. The information in this notice will help exporters prepare MOD Form 680 applications that contain all the information needed to allow advisors in the export control joint unit (ECJU) to assess applications promptly and efficiently.
Please ensure that it is cascaded to personnel responsible for MOD Form 680 applications.
The MOD Form 680 is the process which the UK Government uses to enable UK Industry to apply for permission to release information about classified goods and services to foreign nations, while at the same time maintaining national security.
Applications are made via SPIRE, an online export licensing system that is owned and managed by the Department for International Trade.
MOD Form 680 applications are assessed by a community of advisors including specialists within the Ministry of Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other government departments. The time needed to consider an application and to decide the outcome depends on various factors, including the complexity of the project or prospective opportunity and the information provided to advisors.
Insufficient or incomplete information supplied to our advisers can delay our decision-making process while requests for further information are satisfied. If the nature of the application is particularly complex, meaning that it is likely to require input from a wider range of subject matter experts than usual, it may take longer to process.
Please remember there are relatively few advisors and that they are unlikely to be experts in your business. They also have a range of other responsibilities, besides processing MOD Form 680 and export licence applications. When considering a campaign or marketing opportunity which might require MOD Form 680 approval you should allow enough time for this from the outset.
We will try to clear applications within the target time of 30 working days but this is not always possible. Requests for express clearance should be used sparingly and, if essential, the justification should provide a full explanation as to why the application was not submitted earlier.
If a proposed export is complex or may be contentious you are encouraged to contact the Ministry of Defence in advance of a campaign being initiated, setting out the marketing strategy so that advice can be given at the earliest opportunity. For advice contact ECJU-MODTeam@mod.gov.uk.
0.1 How can UK companies assist the decision-making process?
Supply all relevant information in the application. In addition to describing the equipment and its purpose, it may be useful to describe the campaign and marketing strategy. If you intend to release information incrementally, depending on progress with the promotion and the related classification, say so. There is the facility on SPIRE to upload technical specifications and other documents (subject to data limits). Too much information is usually better than not enough, as too little information is likely to result in delays but consider carefully how this is set out so that it can be easily understood.
Please do not send a large number of applications at the same time – prioritise. Consider the different stages of a campaign or prospective opportunity and send MOD Form 680 applications at the appropriate milestones.
Avoid speculative MOD Form 680 applications. If you are unsure as to how a particular application will be received, because of the nature of the product and its intended destination for example, contact ECJU-MODTeam@mod.gov.uk to discuss the matter.
Provide the previous MOD Form 680 reference number in renewal applications, as well as stating that it is a renewal.
Ensure that contact details are on the application. If cloning a previous application, please ensure that the current contact details are up to date and that other cloned information is relevant to the new application.
Ensure that the information in the application is correct. Once it has been uploaded to SPIRE, it cannot be amended.
Do not ask for an express service unless it can be reasonably justified. MOD Form 680 and export licence applications which are made at the last minute are unlikely to receive preferential treatment unless made on humanitarian grounds (for example, exporting information and equipment to assist disaster relief or for use in search and rescue).
Contact the MOD team at the ECJU for a progress report after 30 days have expired or once it is known that an export opportunity might be lost if MOD Form 680 approval has not been given. Please get in touch using this email address: ECJU-MODTeam@mod.gov.uk.
Exercise due diligence. While all applications are dealt with on a case by case basis, there are some countries subject to embargoes and sanctions where approval for goods and information will not be given. Also, consider the political, socio-economic and other ties which some potential importing nation states might have with particular embargoed countries. Read: current arms embargoes and other restrictions. Information on overseas business risks supplied by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Trade can be found at guidance on overseas business risks.
Submit a single MOD Form 680 application where the same goods are going to different destinations. We will accept up to 20 destinations on a single application.
Do your research and consider the likelihood of approval being given for particular goods or information to certain destinations.
Build MOD Form 680 and export licence approvals into your campaign planning process – don’t see these approvals as an ‘add-on’ but instead integral to your business processes.
Contact the MOD team – ECJU-MODTeam@mod.gov.uk – in ECJU at an early stage if you’re planning a multi-faceted or complex campaign – or one in which the intent is to market sensitive information or equipment, especially if in current use by UK Armed Forces, our allies and international partners.
MOD Form 680 Approval is not an indicator that a future export licence application will be successful. The situation with that destination might change in the intervening period.