Frequently Asked Questions

No.  OFAC’s action of December 20, 2022 does not restrict the scope of any existing exemptions or OFAC authorizations for humanitarian activities, including existing general licenses authorizing certain NGO activities in sanctioned jurisdictions such as the Crimea Region of Ukraine, Iran, and Syria, which have not been amended by this action, and pre-existing web general licenses that have been incorporated into the relevant program regulations, such as Venezuela GL 20B.  Persons conducting humanitarian activities pursuant to these programs may continue to rely on existing exemptions and OFAC authorizations, subject to the applicable conditions and limitations, which may differ by sanctions program.

For information on specific exemptions or authorizations under a particular OFAC sanctions program, please see the relevant OFAC implementing regulations and OFAC’s Sanctions Programs and Country Information page.  
 

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For an organizational chart of the United Nations (UN), which lists the UN Programmes, Funds, and Other Entities and Bodies, as well as its Specialized Agencies and Related Organizations, including the World Bank, please see this page on the UN website.  The IO GLs also authorize the activities of the fund entities administered or established by the foregoing UN organizations, as well as the activities of the international organizations and entities themselves, in addition to the activities of their employees, contractors, and grantees.

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U.S. financial institutions may operate accounts, including processing funds transfers, for persons engaging in activities authorized by the GLs related to: (i) the official business of the U.S. government, (ii) official business of certain international organizations and entities, (iii) certain humanitarian and other specified activities by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and (iv) the provision of agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, replacement parts and components, or software updates for medical devices for personal, non-commercial use.  In assessing whether a particular transaction is in compliance with such GLs, financial institutions may reasonably rely upon the information available to them in the ordinary course of business, provided that the financial institution does not know or have reason to know that the transaction is outside the scope of the applicable GL. 

Separately, non-U.S. persons, including NGOs and other entities, as well as foreign financial institutions facilitating or assisting these activities, do not risk exposure to U.S. sanctions for engaging in or facilitating transactions that are otherwise exempt or authorized for U.S. persons pursuant to these GLs.

For general information on OFAC’s due diligence expectations and compliance programs, please see A Framework for OFAC Compliance Commitments and FAQ 819.

If financial institutions have questions about engaging in or processing transactions related to these authorizations, they may contact the OFAC Compliance Hotline by email at OFAC_Feedback@treasury.gov or by phone at (800) 540-6322 or (202) 622-2490.  OFAC prioritizes responding to questions related to humanitarian activity.
 

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On December 9, 2022, the United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted UNSCR 2664, which establishes a humanitarian carveout to the asset freeze measure across United Nations sanctions regimes.  The carveout enables the flow of legitimate humanitarian assistance and activities supporting the basic human needs of vulnerable populations while continuing to deny resources to malicious actors.  On December 20, 2022, OFAC announced the issuance or amendment of four categories of general licenses (GLs) that support the conduct of U.S. government and humanitarian-related activities across a number of sanctions programs, including in OFAC sanctions programs that implement UN sanctions regimes.   

Specifically, across a number of sanctions programs, OFAC issued or amended four categories of GLs authorizing the following activities:

  • the official business of the U.S. government; 
  • the official business of certain international organizations and entities; 
  • transactions incident to certain humanitarian and other activities by nongovernmental organizations; and
  • the provision of food and other agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, replacement parts and components, or software updates for medical devices for personal, non-commercial use.  

For more information on the sanctions programs covered by these new or amended GLs, please see the Federal Register here and here.  For information on specific exemptions or authorizations under a particular OFAC sanctions program, please see the relevant OFAC implementing regulations and OFAC’s Sanctions Programs and Country Information page.  

For humanitarian-related activity that may fall outside the scope of these authorizations, OFAC considers specific license requests on a case-by-case basis and prioritizes license applications and other requests for guidance that are related to humanitarian activity.  Please see OFAC’s License Application Page for additional details regarding the specific licensing process. 

If individuals, nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, or other entities, including financial institutions, have questions about engaging in or processing transactions related to these authorizations, they may contact the OFAC Compliance Hotline by email OFAC_Feedback@treasury.gov or by phone at (800) 540-6322 or (202) 622-2490.  As with specific license requests, OFAC prioritizes responding to questions related to humanitarian activity.
 

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