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Frequently Asked Questions

463. Can nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) provide assistance to North Korea? If so, what types of assistance can NGOs provide? Can NGOs conduct transactions with the Government of North Korea?

Answer

Yes. Section 510.512(a) of the North Korea Sanctions Regulations authorizes NGOs to export or reexport services to North Korea that would otherwise be prohibited in support of the following activities: (1) activities to support humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs in North Korea, including drought, flood, and disaster relief; the distribution of food, medicine, and clothing intended to be used to relieve human suffering; the provision of shelter; the provision of clean water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance; the provision of health-related services; assistance for individuals with disabilities; and environmental programs; (2) activities to support democracy building in North Korea, including rule of law, citizen participation, government accountability, universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to information, and civil society development projects; (3) activities to support non-commercial development projects directly benefiting the North Korean people, including preventing infectious disease and promoting maternal/child health, sustainable agriculture, and clean water assistance; and (4) activities to support environmental protection, including the preservation and protection of threatened or endangered species and the remediation of pollution or other environmental damage. Additionally, section 510.512(c) authorizes U.S. depository institutions, U.S.-registered brokers or dealers in securities, and U.S.-registered money transmitters to process transfers of funds on behalf of U.S. or third-country NGOs, including to or from North Korea, in support of the activities identified above.

In most instances, to export or reexport goods, services, or technology to designated individuals and entities, U.S. persons must obtain a license from both OFAC and the Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce (BIS). A license from BIS is required to export or reexport any item subject to the Export Administration Regulations (15 CFR parts 730 through 744) (EAR) to North Korea, except food and medicine classified as EAR99. Section 510.512(b) authorizes NGOs to export or reexport from a third country to North Korea food and medicine in support of the activities listed above, provided that the food and medicine are not subject to the EAR. The exportation or reexportation by a U.S. person to North Korea from a third country of items that are not subject to the EAR and that are not food or medicine requires a specific license from OFAC.

Section 510.512(d) authorizes NGOs to conduct limited transactions with the Government of North Korea that are necessary for the above-described activities, such as payment of reasonable and customary taxes and other fees. Partnerships and partnership agreements between NGOs and the Government of North Korea or other blocked persons that are necessary for NGOs to provide authorized services are not permitted without a specific license from OFAC.

*For guidance on specific questions with respect to charitable donations or NGOs, and the scope of section 510.512, please contact OFAC.

Date Released
March 1, 2018