Export Controls on Historic Vehicles


Export Controls on Historic Vehicles

The Export Control Act of 2002 seeks to protect national interests by controlling the export of items that are important to the country’s heritage and its security. In order to export, for instance, an Old Master painting, an appropriate license has to be obtained. Equally, the export of items that could damage national security, if falling into the wrong hands, is strictly controlled. Export in this context can mean being taken out of the country temporarily (such as when a museum piece is sent on loan for an exhibition) as well as being sold permanently.

Regulations made under this Act apply to historic vehicles if they are either deemed to be culturally significant or if they are ex-military vehicles. Owners of vehicles to which the regulations apply risk substantial penalties if they fail to comply with the requirements outlined below.

Historic Vehicles in general

The Export of Objects of Cultural Interest (Control) Order of 2003 (Statutory Instrument 2003/2759) makes it illegal to export most objects of cultural interest more than 50 years old without an appropriate license, and that includes motor vehicles. However, in order to reduce the burden on exporters and remove the need to obtain individual licenses, there is an Open General Export Licence (Objects of Cultural Interest) dated 1 May 2004 which, amongst other things, allows:

The temporary export of any motor vehicle over 50 years old [other than those, such as military vehicles - see below - that are subject to other controls] for a period of less than three months for use for social, domestic or pleasure purposes (including attendance at or participation in a race, rally, or non-commercial exhibition);

The export of any item over 50 years old [other than certain documents and works of art] that is worth less than the threshold value for that type of item.*

There is, however, a further matter to consider if the vehicle being exported is going outside the European Union. Community legislation (EEC No 3911/92) operates in tandem with the requirements under UK law, and this requires individual licenses to be obtained for export to destinations outside the European Customs Union of motor vehicles over 75 years old, valued at or above £43,484,* even if they are being exported only temporarily. Vehicles between 50-74 years old do not require an individual EC license for export to a non-EU destination.

This means that individual export licenses are required if taking such historic vehicles to events, on tours or on holiday to destinations outside EU, such as Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, old Eastern bloc countries and, of course, other continents. These licenses are issued by the Arts Council. Further details and application forms can be found at www.artscouncil.org.uk and a booklet is available: UK Export Licensing for Cultural Goods: Procedures and guidance for exporters of works of art and other cultural goods which provides guidance on the procedures involved in applying for an export license for cultural goods. Part 1 sets out the export controls that apply to cultural goods, and when an individual export license is required. Part 2 details how decisions are reached on license applications for objects of national importance. Table 2 shows threshold values for EU categories for the export of cultural goods. *

These values are adjusted from time to time to account for inflation and currency fluctuations but were correct at March 2012. Check at www.artscouncil.org.uk for the latest figures.

Military Vehicles

The Export Control Order of 2008 (Statutory Instrument 2008/3231) came into force on 29 April 2009. It consolidated and updated other orders made under the 2002 Act. Publicity about the new control order’s introduction coincided with a large number of military vehicle enthusiasts wishing to take part in the D Day commemorative events in 2009.

It was realised that the order made it necessary to obtain an export license to take ex-military vehicles and any associated trailers, parts or equipment of any age out of the country. Hasty negotiations between officers of several military vehicle organisations and the Export Control Organisation (ECO) of the Department for Business and Regulatory Reform – now the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) led to the issue of an Open General Export Licence (OGEL) just in time to allow the events in June 2009 to go ahead. That license, issued on 29 May 2009, has subsequently been amended and a new Open General Export Licence (Historic Military Vehicles and Artillery Pieces) came into effect on 1 November 2009.

The full wording of this OGEL can be found at http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/eco/docs/ogels/historic-vehicles-artillery.pdf

In summary, this Licence allows:

The temporary export of certain de-activated artillery pieces and military vehicles to the other 26 European Union Member States, the Channel Islands and Norway, providing,

the items are being exported for the purposes of an historic re-enactment, historic commemorative event, private battlefield tour or private recreational purposes, and no other military purpose;

are not classified by the MoD as Restricted or above;

will be returned to the UK within 3 calendar months;

the artillery pieces shall be certified and registered by a UK Proof House as:

- having been rendered incapable of firing any ammunition and intended for static display purposes, or;
- permanently converted to only fire blank ammunition, and intended for re-enactment or commemorative events. the vehicles shall be:
- manufactured more than 50 years before the date of export, or;
- less than 50 years old and are registered with DVLA as ‘private’ or ‘historic’. certain items that are specifically related to the type and period of the artillery and vehicle being exported.

In order to take advantage of this OGEL, it is necessary to register to do so, (unlike the OGEL for historic vehicles in general, described at the top of this page) and registration can only be done through ECO’s on-line license application database, SPIRE, which can be accessed at https://www.spire.bis.gov.uk Paper application is not an option.

For further information, please contact: Export Control Organisation Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills 1 Victoria Street London, SW1H 0ET Tel: 020 7215 4594; Fax 020 7215 2635 Email: eco.help@bis.gsi.gov.uk


An original article from FBHVC