Frequently Asked Questions

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OFAC Licenses

51. How do I apply for a license to get my money unblocked?

With respect to blocked funds transfers, you are encouraged to file an electronic application to have blocked funds released.

You may also submit an application for the release of blocked funds which is available on OFAC's website under "Forms." You should print this form, complete the required information, attach payment instructions, and mail it to:

Office of Foreign Assets Control
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Treasury Annex
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20220
Attn: Licensing Division

It is extremely important that the underlying transaction be described in detail and copies of supporting documentation be included in the package.

58. What are the chances that my application will be approved?

Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and often requires interagency consultation. Although we cannot predict how long this review might take, following existing application guidelines will help to expedite your determination.

59. Do I need a registration number or license to donate goods?

Most OFAC sanctions programs provide exemptions to their prohibitions for certain donated goods, such as articles to relieve human suffering. This is not the case for all programs, however. You should refer to the legal section of OFAC's website for the regulations applicable to the specific target or target country of your donation.

74. What is a license?

A license is an authorization from OFAC to engage in a transaction that otherwise would be prohibited. There are two types of licenses: general licenses and specific licenses.

A general license authorizes a particular type of transaction for a class of persons without the need to apply for a license.

A specific license is a written document issued by OFAC to a particular person or entity, authorizing a particular transaction in response to a written license application.

Persons engaging in transactions pursuant to general or specific licenses must make sure that all conditions of the licenses are strictly observed.

OFAC's regulations may contain statements of OFAC's specific licensing policy with respect to particular types of transactions.

75. Do I have to fill out a particular form to get a license to engage in a transaction?

Most license applications do not have to be submitted on a particular form. However, it is essential to include in the request all necessary information as required in the application guidelines or the regulations pertaining to the particular embargo program. When applying for a license, provide a detailed description of the proposed transaction, including the names and addresses of any individuals/companies involved. The mailing address for license applications is:

Office of Foreign Assets Control
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Treasury Annex
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20220
Attn: Licensing Division

In order to apply for a specific license to release blocked funds, you are encouraged to file an electronic application to have blocked funds released by visiting the following link: https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/financial-sanctions/ofac-license-application-page.

You may also submit an application for the release of blocked funds which is available on OFAC's website under "Forms." You should print this form, complete the required information, attach payment instructions, and mail it to the address listed above.

Depending upon the transaction, there may be specific guidance available on OFAC's website under relevant "Guidance on Licensing policy" on OFAC's various sanctions program web pages.

76. Can I appeal a denial of my license application?

A denial by OFAC of a license application constitutes final agency action. The regulations do not provide for a formal process of appeal. However, OFAC will reconsider its determinations for good cause, for example, where the applicant can demonstrate changed circumstances or submit additional relevant information not previously made available to OFAC.

77. How can I find out the status of my pending license application?

OFAC will notify applicants in writing as soon as a determination has been made on their application. The length of time for determinations to be reached will vary depending on the complexity of the transactions under consideration, the scope and detail of interagency coordination, and the volume of similar applications awaiting consideration. Applicants are encouraged to wait at least two weeks before telephonically contacting the Licensing Division at (202) 622-2480 to inquire about the status of their application. Callers can use OFAC's automated license application status hotline (accessible through the 202-622-2480 number) to check on the status of their application.

78. What agencies other than Treasury review OFAC license applications and what are the roles of these other agencies?

Many of OFAC's licensing determinations are guided by U.S. foreign policy and national security concerns. Numerous issues often must be coordinated with the U.S. Department of State and other government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Commerce. Please note that the need to comply with other provisions of 31 C.F.R. chapter V, and with other applicable provisions of law, including any aviation, financial, or trade requirements of agencies other than the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Such requirements include the Export Administration Regulations, 15 C.F.R. Parts 730 et seq., administered by the Department of Commerce, and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, 22 C.F.R. Parts 120-130, administered by the Department of State.

97. What format options are permitted for submitting license applications pursuant to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA)?

OFAC permits two format options for submitting TSRA license applications: online or hard-copy, though we highly recommend the use of OFAC’s online application portal.  Applications submitted via mail must be accompanied by a cover letter that includes some essential information:  the purpose of the application and the applicant’s full contact information.  If either the cover letter or the pertinent information is missing, the application is considered incomplete and risks delay or rejection.  As of January 17, 2017, a specific license from OFAC is not required to export or reexport agricultural commodities, medicines, or medical devices to Sudan, as such transactions are authorized by a general license now set forth in 31 C.F.R. § 596.506.

98. How should I present my TSRA license application?

Applicants should clearly enumerate in a table format all pertinent information related to their proposed transactions, including: a) Full names and addresses of all parties involved in the transactions and their roles, including financial institutions and any Iranian broker (identify company principals), purchasing agent (identify company principals), end-user(s) (full contact name), or other participants involved in the purchase of the proposed export items; and b) If applicable, the commodity classification numbers that are associated with the proposed export items.  As of January 17, 2017, a specific license from OFAC is not required to export or reexport agricultural commodities, medicines, or medical devices to Sudan, as such transactions are authorized by general license now set forth in 31 C.F.R. § 596.506.

100. If I am submitting multiple TSRA license applications at the same time, should I send them under a single cover letter?

OFAC requires applicants to submit each individual application separately; regardless of if you are completing the online application or sending in a hard copy application through the mail. If an applicant is submitting a hard copy, each application should be in a separate envelope, accompanied by a separate cover letter. Applicants should not submit multiple applications in a single envelope with a single cover letter. If you submit applications in that manner, you may encounter some delay in the processing of your applications. Therefore, in order to prevent such delay, submit one application with one cover letter per envelope.

101. Should I send a sample of the proposed export product as an attachment to my TSRA license application?

No. OFAC does not require samples of proposed export products to be sent as attachments to any application. OFAC does not need to examine samples of the actual product in making its final determination. Therefore, please do not include any samples with your application.

117. Specific to Iran I hold a specific license to sell agricultural goods, medicine, or medical devices to Iran. The general license at section 560.532(a)(4) of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) authorizes me to accept a letter of credit issued by an Iranian financial institution whose property and interests in property are blocked solely pursuant to the ITSR (i.e., an Iranian financial institution that is not listed on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List)). The general license, however, also states that a U.S. financial institution may not advise, confirm, or otherwise deal in that credit. How am I supposed to know if/when a letter of credit has been issued for my sale and how do I get paid? My bank accounts are all at U.S. financial institutions.

This language is in the general license at section 560.532(a)(4) of the ITSR because it is contrary to U.S. foreign policy to allow U.S. financial institutions to maintain active correspondent relationships with Iranian banks. The language, however, does not preclude a U.S. financial institution or an entity owned or controlled by a United States Person and established or maintained outside the United States (“U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entity”) from being a second advising bank (i.e. receiving and passing forward advice from a third-country bank that the credit has been issued), nor does it preclude the U.S. financial institution or a U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entity from receiving funds in payment for the licensed export from a third-country bank. You should also note that the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations authorize U.S. financial institutions and U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entities to directly advise or confirm letters of credit issued by third-country banks for authorized shipments. The third-country bank may not be an overseas branch of a U.S. financial institution, a U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entity, an Iranian financial institution, or the Government of Iran, unless otherwise authorized by OFAC. In none of these circumstances, however, may there be any direct or indirect involvement of entities the property and interests in property of which have been blocked under any of the programs administered by OFAC, except for persons whose property and interests in property are blocked solely pursuant to Executive Order 13599 and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.

500. I am an exporter of agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices to Sudan and have previously obtained specific licenses from OFAC for such exports.  Do I still need to apply for a specific license from OFAC for exports or reexports of such items to Sudan?  

No.  As of January 17, 2017, a specific license from OFAC is not required to export or reexport agricultural commodities, medicines, or medical devices to Sudan, as such transactions are authorized by general license now set forth in 31 C.F.R. § 596.506.  Further, consistent with 31 C.F.R. § 501.801, OFAC generally does not issue applications for specific licenses authorizing transactions that are authorized by an existing general license.  

However, pursuant to the aforementioned general licenses, which implement certain requirements of TSRA, any exports or reexports of agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices to the Government of Sudan, to any individual or entity in Sudan, or to any person in a third country purchasing specifically for resale to any of the foregoing, must be shipped within 12 months of the date of the signing of the contract for the relevant export or reexport of such items to Sudan.