Skip to content

Trade sanctions and export controls toolbox


Our policies, standards and other resources

We have more in-depth Group policies, standards and guidance covering different aspects of confidential information. You can find links to them here.

In addition, there may be specific policies and procedures that apply where you work. Your manager can tell you about these. If you are unsure then always ask your manager.

(Please note: some of our resources are only available to Serco employees. In this case, you’ll need to log in to MySerco to access them. If you have problems accessing them, please request a copy from your manager.)

Business Conduct and Ethics
One page statement defining Serco’s commitment to operating with integrity.

Understand what is expected of you here.

Group Procedure – Export Controls
Details requirements for effective systems of export control compliance.

Group Functional Manual – Third Party Due Diligence
Details the requirements for appropriate due diligence of third parties.

Group Procedure – Raising a Concern
Provides guidance on how to raise a concern.


A boycott is an alternative economic sanction through an act of nonviolent, voluntary and intentional abstention from trading with a person, organisation, or country as an expression of protest, usually for moral, social, political, or environmental reasons. The purpose of a boycott to indicate a moral outrage, to try to compel the target to alter an objectionable behaviour.

Another form of trade restriction is export controls. Export Controls regulate the export of goods, services, software and technology, which could potentially be useful for purposes that are contrary or harmful to the interest of the exporting country. This includes various goods with a military potential, cryptography, currency, and precious stones or metals. These items are considered to be ‘controlled’ and require exporters to apply for a license to a local government department.  An export can be tangible or intangible.

Countries, including the US, EU, UK and Australia, publish lists of specifically controlled military and dual-use items that are subject to export licensing requirements in their jurisdiction.

Some export control laws and regulations may have extraterritorial application. For example, US export control regulations can apply to any transfer of items, regardless of where the item or exporter is located, if the items were originally supplied from the United States or otherwise incorporate controlled US goods, software or technology. This can apply to items designed or manufactured outside the US but which incorporate or bundle more than a specified value of US-origin controlled content. In such cases, US controls are triggered only if the item contains more than a de minimis amount of US-origin controlled content. This de minimis amount varies depending on the control category (ECCN/USML classification) and the country of destination (and may be 25%, 10% or 0% (i.e. any US-origin controlled content)).

US controls can apply for the lifetime of the item and an appropriate licence or authorisation must be in place to cover transfers from one non-US country to another.

Because of the extraterritorial reach of US requirements, US export controls can apply where there is otherwise no US involvement in the shipment as well as to companies with no US ownership or not subject to US jurisdiction. The application of US export controls can be complex and advice should be sought from Serco’s US Global Trade Compliance team where needed to ensure we fully comply with these requirements.

Export controls apply regardless of the state or working condition of the goods or technology and may continue to apply to goods that are no longer useful to Serco and are being disposed of or destroyed.

The physical transfer of goods as well as software, technical information or technology stored on physical media such as a CD, DVD, USB or computer hard drive or in the form of blueprints, diagrams or notes, through usual shipping methods as well as in person hand carried or in luggage.

Where information, software or technology being transferred or made available to a person located in another country, even though no physical shipment takes place. This can include transfer by email, fax, telephone, video conferencing or otherwise providing access to electronic files, for example through shared intranet sites, online storage applications or shared databases or development platforms.

The release of controlled items to a national of a third country (including dual-nationals), even where the transfer of information takes place within the same country e.g. where controlled technology is made available by a US-based company to a foreign national who is visiting the US site or where we are providing in-country repair agents or other third parties with access to controlled items.

Those items that could be used for either civilian/commercial purposes or for military or other sensitive applications.

Countries publish lists of controlled items which generally include:

  • Military Goods: goods, software and technology specifically designed or adapted for use by armed forces or for military purposes. This includes, for example, arms, military vehicles, vessels and aircraft, military telecommunication and radar equipment, non-military firearms, ammunition and explosives, as well as parts, components and accessories for these items.

  • Dual-Use Goods: goods, software and technology initially or primarily developed to meet commercial needs, but which may also be used for military or other sensitive applications.

  • Technologies/Technical Data: any specific information necessary for the development, production, maintenance, repair, modification or use of goods falling under the definitions above will normally also be controlled. This might include instructions, detailed training, skills and working knowledge that is provided in manuals, blueprints, diagrams or through written documents or recorded media or devices.

Where the exporter knows or has been informed that the items are or may be intended for military end-use in a country subject to an arms embargo. For these purposes, “military end-use” means incorporation of the items into controlled military items or the use of the items for the development, production or maintenance of controlled military items.

Where the exporter knows, has been informed or suspects that the items will be used in connection with weapons of mass destruction, regardless of the country of destination. This includes a suspicion that the items may be intended, in their entirety or in part, for use in connection with the development, production, handling, operation, maintenance, storage, detection, identification or dissemination of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or the development, production, maintenance or storage of missiles capable of delivering such weapons.

Economic sanctions are commercial and financial penalties – including embargoes - applied by one or more countries against a targeted self-governing state, group, or individual. They are usually imposed for one of two reasons: either the self-governing state, group, or individual is a perceived threat (such as nuclear or terrorism) to the security of a nation, or a sanctioned country treats its citizens unfairly and is guilty of human rights violations.

Serco is prohibited by law from entering into transactions or dealings with third parties listed as sanctions targets. Further, UK, Australian and US regulations expect that Serco will actively avoid transactions with sanctioned, embargoed, debarred or otherwise ineligible third parties.

In order to ensure compliance with embargoes and sanctions, we must conduct appropriate Third Party Due Diligence when entering into any agreements or relationships with suppliers, customers, end-users or other third parties. This requirement is defined within the Third Party Due Diligence Manual.

If you're a manager

  • Ensure that any risks associated with export controls and associated regulations are assessed and where appropriate procedures established to ensure regulatory compliance.

  • Where export control compliance risk has been identified it must then be considered at an early stage in a bid and then at all review gates, post Gate 2.

  • Where a risk is identified, ensure appropriate processes are in place for the identification, marking and recording of controlled items.

  • Ensure that all controlled goods, software and technology held by or accessible are held and transferred securely and in accordance with applicable licensing conditions.

Raise a concern

Learn more

What happens if we don't follow mycode?

Learn more

Speak Up

Learn more

Discover more...

Bribery and corruption

We never take or offer any kind of bribe.

Gifts and hospitality

We always check before giving or receiving any gift or hospitality.

Conflicts of interest

We always declare any potential conflict of interest. If we’re not sure, we ask.

Working with communities

We support and respect the communities we work among.

Political activities and payments

We keep our relationships with government honest.

Competition and antitrust

We always compete fairly and openly.

Working with others

We deal fairly and honestly with suppliers, strategic partners and agents, and expect the same of them.

Accurate records, reporting and accounting

We always maintain accurate records, reports and accounts.

Tax evasion

We never do it, or help anyone else to.

Money laundering

We will not take part in any money laundering activity, and do all we can to stop it.

Insider trading

Never use inside information for insider trading – it’s a serious crime.