Swinburne University: Defence Trade
Controls Act 2012

What is the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTCA)?

The Federal Defence Trade Control Act (2012), Customs Act (1901) and Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act (1995) control the export of certain goods and technologies.

The purpose of the Act is to protect National Security by preventing sensitive goods and technologies from falling into the wrong hands.

To achieve this, the DTCA regulates the intangible supply, publication and brokering of goods that are directly or indirectly linked to military or defence activity. 

What does the DTCA cover?

Under the DTCA, controlled goods and technology come under two headings

Part 1: munitions (or military) items; and
Part 2: dual-use items; may also be used for commercial purposes. Including (but not limited to):

  • Nuclear Materials: Facilities and Equipment Nuclear reactors, gas centrifuges, materials designed for nuclear use
  • Materials, Chemicals, Micro-organisms and Toxins: Powdered metals, ceramics, composite materials, toxic chemicals and pathogens, protective and detection equipment, body armour
  • Materials Processing:Machine tools (CNC machines), crucibles, valves, robots, vibration test systems, vacuum pumps, chemical processing and handling equipment
  • Electronics: Radiation hardened electronics, Field Programable Gate Arrays (FPGA), microwave electronics, electronic test equipment, high energy storage devices, fast switching devices
  • Computers: Radiation hardened computers, high performance computers, tools for development and delivery of intrusion software
  • Telecommunications and Information: Security Part 1 - Telecommunications systems, jamming equipment, RF monitoring equipment, IP network surveillance equipment; Part 2 - Cryptographic and cryptanalytic equipment, cryptographic activation equipment
  • Sensors and Lasers: Marine acoustic systems, imaging detector systems, optical mirrors, lasers, magnetometers
  • Navigation and Avionics: Gyroscopes, accelerometers, inertial navigation systems, flight control systems
  • Marine: Submersible vehicles, remotely controlled manipulators, noise reduction systems, air independent power systems
  • Aerospace and Propulsion: Aero gas turbine engines, rocket propulsion systems, UAVs, sounding rockets, wind tunnels, turbine blade production equipment

How do I know if my research comes under the DTCA?

For your research to come under the DTCA you must:

  • Be exporting the controlled good or technology out of Australia and;
  • The goods or technology must be listed on the DGSL

If you are unsure whether your research is a controlled good or technology, we recommend you use the Online DSGL Tool or look at the scenarios and case studies provided by the Defence Export Controls. This flowchart also outlines what does and does not come under the DTCA.

What does ‘Brokering’, ‘Publication’ and ‘Intangible Supply’ mean?


Brokering is where a person or organisation acts as an agent or intermediary and arranges the supply of controlled technology outside of Australia.

A permit is not required to broker dual use technology.


Information is ‘published’ where it:

  • is made available to the public; or
  • a section of the public

via the Internet or otherwise.

Publication includes: journal articles, conference papers, blogs, websites and social media.

Except where a general exemption applies, a permit IS required where the publication is for military use technology.

A permit is not required for the publication of dual use technology.

My research is listed on the DGSL. I wish to publish my new findings in a scientific journal based in the US. Do I need a permit to send a copy to the editor?

If your technology is listed on Part 1 of the DSGL and is part of applied research, you will need a supply permit to send a copy to your publisher abroad, and to send a draft copy to co-authors located overseas.

If your technology is listed on Part 2 of the DSGL (dual use), a permit is not needed to send a paper to a publisher or co-authors located overseas as it is exempted as a ‘pre-publication activity’.

Intangible Supply

Intangible supply refers to the non-physical methods such as email, fax or the provision of a password to electronic files.

This does not include instances where the supply is a pre-publication activity (i.e., emailing an article to an overseas journal, or to a colleague for review prior to publication), and some verbal supplies.

My research is a controlled DGSL technology. At teleconference project meeting, I discuss the DGSL technology with collaborators in Malaysia.

  • The oral supply exception applies and you do not need a permit.

My research is a controlled DGSL technology. At a teleconference project meeting, I provide my collaborators in Malaysia ongoing access to the project folders containing the DGSL controlled technology:

  • As your collaborators can now share the controlled technology, you have supplied the technology and a permit is required. An oral exemption does not apply.

My research is a controlled DGSL technology. At a project meeting, I provide my collaborators at the Australian National University access to the project folders containing the DGSL technology:

  • A permit is not required, as supply has occurred wholly within Australia.

What is the difference between Publication and Supply?

The question to ask is whether or not the DSGL technology is available in the public domain.

If the answer is ‘yes’ – even if there’s a requirement to pay to access the technology - then it is a publication. 

If, however, access is restricted to particular groups or users, then it’s not in the public domain and will be a ‘supply’.

Is my research exempt from controls?

Certain types of research are exempt from controls. This applies if:

  • you are supplying technology that is already ”in the public domain”. That means that it is “technology or software which has been made available without restrictions upon its further dissemination”
  • your work is  ”basic scientific research”. That means that your work is experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire new knowledge of the fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts;
  • your work is on medical equipment which incorporates dual use goods and technology;
  • the supply is for the purpose of seeking a patent applications, except if your work is in nuclear technology.

My area of research comes under the DTCA. Do I need a permit?

You must have a permit if you are engaging in an international collaboration that will:

  • involve the supply, publication or brokerage of tangible or intangible goods and technologies on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) which are being developed for military use; or
  • involve the supply of intangible goods that are intended to be commercial, but could be used in military systems or for weapons of mass destruction (dual use)

unless you fall under one of the general exemptions.

I need a permit. How do I apply?

Researchers should follow these steps to find out whether their work could be affected by the DTCA:

  1. Use the online DSGL Tool provided by DEC to assess whether you need a permit or are exempt from the DTC scheme
  2. Save a copy of the assessment report generated by the DSGL Tool
  3. If you need to apply for a permit, or are unsure, email dtca@swin.edu.au outlining your research. Please also include a copy of the assessment report generated by Online Tool.
  4. The Research Ethics, Integrity & Biosafety team will coordinate the next steps.

More information

The Export Controls Office within the Department of Defence is responsible for the administration of the DTCA and has a great deal of information and tools to help exporters and researchers comply.  You can view this information at www.defence.gov.au/ExportControls.

For further information and training please email dtca@swin.edu.au.


Defence Trade Controls Act Presentation

Swinburne DTCA Questions & Answers