National drugs control system

The National Drugs Control System (NDS) is used to administer the import and export licensing regime of the United Kingdom. NDS is designed to improve the processing times for licence applications and to assist in the capture of data for monitoring trade.

Registration, trade and substance details

In order to register licensees will firstly need to register on the online application site (at https://dlcu.homeoffice.gov.uk/Default.aspx) to create a user account for the NDS.
Secondly licensees must ensure that all their overseas trading partners, preparations and substances are recorded on the system - licensees must complete the overseas trading partners and preparations form. This form must be sent inconjunction with the registration for the NDS account, to the DLCU in order to have their account created, licensees who do not submitt this form will not have their accounts created.


This form must be completed and must state the anhydrous base drug in each substance and preparation. The licensee must send the form to the Home Office in order to have their account created. If this information is not supplied to the Home Office, the user account will not be created and those who have not supplied this information will have their application cancelled after four weeks of initial registration. Licensees will need to send this form by email only, to the drugs licensing and compliance unit.

Failure to fully complete and return the form will result in not being able to access the new system and lead to considerable delays in processing licence applications.

With effect from 4 January 2011, there will be a period of six months where all controlled drugs licensees will be required to apply for online accounts. All licensees will be required to complete their registration by 1 August. Upon completion of the registration process, import and export licence applications must be made online though the NDS portal.

Important changes to the current import and export licensing system from 1 August 2011

From 1 August 2011, licensing arrangements for import and export in the United Kingdom will be as follows.
Please note these will apply to licenses issued in the NDS transition period, irrespective of whether the application was lodged through the NDS portal or not.

After the 1 August 2011 any paper licence applications which are received will be returned to the licensee and they will be directed to apply via the new National Drugs control System.

After the 1 January 2012 all precursor chemcials paper authroisation applications which are received will be returned to the licensee and they will be directed to apply via the new National Drugs control System.

1. Controlled drugs exporters

Companies wishing to make a controlled drugs export application will need to apply online for an export licence as soon as their NDS registration is complete.

  • licences will be valid for a maximum period of two months
  • licences will also be issued for less than two months if the import permit from the importing country is valid for less than two months
  • licensees will need to ensure the original import permit from the importing country is sent to the drugs licensing and compliance unit (DLCU) as soon as the licence has been submitted, so the application can be matched and processed (it is the responsibility of the exporter to ensure that the orginal import permit is tracked via their post system to the DLCU and a copy is retained in case of loss)
  • licensees will need to upload the import permit from the importing country onto the NDS system, but must ensure the original import permit is still sent to the DLCU
  • licensees will need to make sure their company reference number is sited in the notes field of their online application for each licence applied for
  • licensees will need to use the online application site to apply for an online export licence

2. Controlled drugs importers

Companies wishing to make a controlled drugs import application will need to apply online for import licence as soon as their NDS registration is complete.

  • licences will be valid for a maximum period of three months
  • licensees will need to make sure their company order reference number is sited in the notes field of their online application
  • licensees will need to note the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredience (API) country of manufacture in the notes field
  • you will need to use the online application site to apply for an online import licence

3. Precursor chemical exporters and importers

Companies wishing to make a precursor chemical import and export application will need to apply online for licence as soon as their registration is complete.

  • Licences will be valid for a maximum period of three months.
  • All export licences will require 15 days to clear all checks before licensees are sent their export licences
  • You will need to use the online application site to apply for an online import or export licence
  • Only responsible officer are permitted to approve online applications for import/export authorisations
  • Applications must be accompanies when applied for online with a copy of the current valid domestic licence and a copy of any import permti/authorisations which must be upload with the application

Trade and substance details

In order to ensure that all your overseas trading partners, preparations and substances are recorded on the system, licensees must complete the overseas trading partners and preparations form.
This form must be sent to the Home Office, by email only, to the drugs licensing and compliance unit.

Failure to fully complete and return the form will result in not being able to access the new system and lead to considerable delays in processing licence applications.

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