What are UK laws regarding the export of secondhand computer equipment?
February 10, 2009 4:03 AM   Subscribe

Is there anything special I need to do to old computers before I can legally send them abroad from the UK? I've got all the technical aspects covered, and know what's what on the software front, but we are essentially dealing with electrical equipment, and I know nothing about what the law has to say to that.

I'm a student at a UK university, and a bunch of us are in the process of overseeing and arranging the transfer of a sizable quantity of redundant computer stock to an overseas charity. While I, due to prior experience as a technician dealing with precisely this sort of thing (for the Crossroads Foundation, Hong Kong, if anyone is interested), am entirely confident that we'll be able to take care of the technical side of things (secure erasure of previous data, testing, installation and set-up of software relevant to the intended end user) I am utterly unaware of what, if any, UK legislation might be relevant to this endeavour. I simply do not know if I am legally obliged to ensure the operating safety of what is, in essence, electrical equipment going abroad, beyond the assurances given by the manufacturer, nor do I really know who to contact, or where to start looking.

So, if anyone has any experience buying or selling large quantities of old computer stock, being involved in the logistics of sending it abroad, is involved with international charity or aid, or is a lawyer within a relevant area, and happens to know what (if anything) I need to do, that'd be awesome. Even more awesome would be if anyone could point me in the direction of some relevant set of resources (books, websites, that sort of thing) detailing relevant legislation (again, if any) in either English or legalese.

posted by Dysk to Law & Government (3 answers total)
I don't think there are any prohibitions, restrictions, duties or quotas affecting this kind of export, though there are of course some procedures. Exports tend to be relatively straightforward and you may well have more trouble with the import regime of the country you're sending them to. The HMRC website gives authoriative advice.

This booklet might be helpful, but the Bible on all this is the Tariff. You won't need to read it all! A shipping agent or freight forwarder would handle all this for you, and might be worth considering.

(I used to work on this kind of thing, but that was twenty years ago and a lot has changed since then.)
posted by Phanx at 6:55 AM on February 10, 2009

Phanx, thanks, that's awesome!

Well, now that all the export-related stuff is pretty much covered, I'd still ike some form of confirmation that there are no issues with passing on used computer equipment wholesale. Essentially, I'd just like to be damn sure that we're not legally obliged to have a licensed electrician certify that, despite a few years of use, none of this stuff is really more likely to catch fire or explode than it was when it left the factory.
posted by Dysk at 7:04 AM on February 10, 2009

Well, other avenues of investigation turned up exactly what I was looking for, so for posterity:


For a start you need to be aware anything below P3-600MHz spec is now classified as scrap and therefore illegal to send outside of the EU, similar to CRT monitors now being classified as Hazardous waste and therefore again illegal to send overseas.

Visit our website at for further guidance, and links.

IT Trading UK Limited"
posted by Dysk at 3:00 PM on February 10, 2009

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