Frequently Asked Questions

The Office of Foreign Assets Control administers and enforces economic sanctions programs primarily against countries and groups of individuals, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers. The sanctions can be either comprehensive or selective, using the… Read more
The Treasury Department has a long history of dealing with sanctions. Dating back prior to the War of 1812, Secretary of the Treasury Gallatin administered sanctions imposed against Great Britain for the harassment of American sailors. During the Civil War,… Read more
Prohibited transactions are trade or financial transactions and other dealings in which U.S. persons may not engage unless authorized by OFAC or expressly exempted by statute. Because each program is based on different foreign policy and national security… Read more
Yes. OFAC regulations often provide general licenses authorizing the performance of certain categories of transactions. OFAC also issues specific licenses on a case-by-case basis under certain limited situations and conditions. Guidance on how to request a… Read more
Please take the following “due diligence” steps in determining a valid OFAC match. If you are calling about a wire transfer or other “live” transaction: Step 1. Is the “hit” or “match” against OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, one of its… Read more
A summary description of each particular embargo or sanctions program may be found in the Sanctions Programs and Country Information area and in the Guidance and Information for Industry Groups area on OFAC's website. The text of Legal documents may be found… Read more
OFAC usually has the authority by means of a specific license to permit a person or entity to engage in a transaction which otherwise would be prohibited. In some cases, however, legislation may restrict that authority. To apply for a specific license,… Read more
In some situations, authority to engage in certain transactions is provided by means of a general license. In instances where a general license does not exist, a written request for a specific license must be filed with OFAC. The request must conform to the… Read more
Another word for it is "freezing." It is simply a way of controlling targeted property. Title to the blocked property remains with the target, but the exercise of powers and privileges normally associated with ownership is prohibited without authorization… Read more
OFAC administers a number of U.S. economic sanctions and embargoes that target geographic regions and governments. Some programs are comprehensive in nature and block the government and include broad-based trade restrictions, while others target specific… Read more
U.S. persons must comply with OFAC regulations, including all U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens regardless of where they are located, all persons and entities within the United States, all U.S. incorporated entities and their foreign branches. In… Read more
The fines for violations can be substantial. In many cases, civil and criminal penalties can exceed several million dollars. Civil penalties vary by sanctions program, and the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Federal… Read more
OFAC encourages anyone who may have violated OFAC-administered regulations to disclose the apparent violation to OFAC voluntarily.  Voluntary self-disclosure to OFAC is considered a mitigating factor by OFAC in enforcement actions, and pursuant to OFAC’s… Read more
Great care should be taken when placing reliance on such materials to ensure that the transactions in question fully conform to the letter and spirit of the published materials and that the materials have not been superseded.
Yes. OFAC, therefore, strongly encourages parties to exercise due diligence when their business activities may touch on an OFAC-administered program and to contact OFAC if they have any questions about their transactions.
As part of its enforcement efforts, OFAC publishes a list of individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries. It also lists individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers… Read more
The best way to get the SDN list is from OFAC's website. The list is disseminated in a number of different formats, including XML and fixed field/delimited files that can be integrated into databases.
The SDN list is frequently updated. There is no predetermined timetable, but rather names are added or removed as necessary and appropriate.
OFAC has long maintained such a list. The file is available on OFAC's SDN Page under the link "SDN List Sorted by Country." The file is also contained within the SDALL.ZIP archive and is called ctrylst.txt. It is important to understand that many SDN… Read more
If you have checked a name manually or by using software and find a match, you should do a little more research. Is it an exact name match, or very close? Is your customer located in the same general area as the SDN or another entry on one of OFAC's sanctions… Read more