Frequently Asked Questions

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Syria Sanctions

135. Are travel-related transactions permissible under the new Syria Executive order 13582?

Yes. The new Syria Executive order, Executive Order 13582, does not prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions ordinarily incident to travel to or from any country, including importation of accompanied baggage for personal use, maintenance within any country including payment of living expenses and acquisition of goods or services for personal use, and arrangement or facilitation or such travel including nonscheduled air, sea, or land voyages.

136. What does the term "items" cover, and what is meant by items subject to the Export Administration Regulations?

For the purposes of OFAC Syria General License No. 4A, "items subject to the EAR" is defined at § 734.3 of the Export Administration Regulations ("EAR"), 15 C.F.R. Parts 730-774.The EAR are administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security ("BIS"). Note that BIS maintains authority to license exports and reexports to persons in Syria whose property and interests have been blocked pursuant to Executive Order 13606 (the “GHRAVITY E.O.”). For further guidance regarding the exportation or reexportation of items to Syria, please consult the EAR. You may also wish to review the BIS Syria Web page or contact BIS by phone at (202) 482-4252.

137. Regarding OFAC Syria General License No. 4A, will I need a specific license from OFAC to export or reexport food or medicine to the Government of Syria?

The export or reexport of food or medicine that is subject to the EAR to the Government of Syria, other than medicine on the Commerce Control List that has not been licensed by BIS for export or reexport to Syria, does not require a specific license from OFAC.

As set forth in the EAR, which implements the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 ("SAA") and Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, BIS does not require a license for the export or reexport of "EAR99" food and medicine; accordingly, EAR99 food and medicine can be exported or reexported to the Government of Syria on a "NLR" ("No License Required") basis, under the regulations administered by BIS.

Additionally, as set forth in the EAR, a BIS license is required for the export or reexport of medicine that is on the Commerce Control List ("CCL medicine"). If BIS has licensed the export or reexport of CCL medicine to the Government of Syria, no specific OFAC license is required.

138. Does General License No. 4A authorize U.S. persons to export or reexport from a third country to Syria or the Government of Syria a foreign-made item with either no U.S. content or de minimis U.S. content?

General License No. 4A only applies to items that are subject to the EAR, as set forth in 15 C.F.R. § 734.3. If a foreign-made item located abroad is not subject to the EAR based on the regulations administered by BIS, the exportation or reexportation of such items by U.S. persons to the Government Syria and the reexportation of services incident to an exportation of such items to Syria are not authorized by General License No. 4A. Because Executive Order 13582 generally prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with the Government of Syria and separately prohibits the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, by a United States person, wherever located, of any services to Syria, such transactions remain prohibited.

205. Who is authorized to send money to support certain nongovernmental organizations’ activities?

U.S. depository institutions, U.S. registered brokers or dealers in securities, and U.S. registered money transmitters are authorized to process transfers of funds to or from Syria on behalf of U.S. and third-country nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), in support of the not-for-profit activities described in General License No. 11. These not-for-profit activities include: (1) activities to support humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs in Syria, including, but not limited to, drought relief, assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict victims, food and medicine distribution, and the provision of health services; (2) activities to support democracy building in Syria, including, but not limited to, rule of law, citizen participation, government accountability, and civil society development projects; (3) activities to support education in Syria, including, but not limited to, combating illiteracy, increasing access to education, and assisting education reform projects; and (4) activities to support non-commercial development projects directly benefiting the Syrian people, including, but not limited to, preventing infectious disease and promoting maternal/child health, sustainable agriculture, and clean water assistance. Except for limited transactions with the Government of Syria, General License No. 11 does not authorize the transfer of funds to the Government of Syria or other blocked persons.

206. As an individual, may I transfer funds directly to Syria in support of authorized NGO activities under General License No. 11?

No. Only U.S. depository institutions, U.S. registered brokers or dealers in securities, and U.S. registered money transmitters are authorized to process such transfers of funds, and only on behalf of U.S or third-country NGOs. Although individuals may not transfer funds directly to Syria in support of authorized NGO activities under General License No. 11, please note that, pursuant to General License No. 6, individuals may send noncommercial, personal remittances to individuals in Syria provided that, among other things, the Government of Syria is not involved. However, General License No. 6 provides that “noncommercial, personal remittances” do not include charitable donations of funds to or for the benefit of any entity or funds transfers for use in supporting or operating a business. Please see General License No. 6 for further details.

If you wish to donate funds in support of humanitarian work in Syria, you may do so by transferring funds to an NGO to support its work in Syria. If you wish to send a charitable donation directly to Syria, you must apply for specific authorization to transmit such funds.

225. Why does the United States have sanctions against Syria and what does that mean for me?

The United States has sanctioned the Syrian government, including the Central Bank of Syria, senior Syrian government officials, and individuals and entities supporting the Assad regime and/or responsible for human rights abuses in Syria, in order to reinforce the President’s call that Bashar al-Assad step down and to disrupt the Assad regime’s ability to finance its campaign of violence against the Syrian people. In addition, Treasury has sanctioned the Commercial Bank of Syria and a number of other entities under Executive Order 13382, an authority that targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their supporters. Over the years Treasury has applied a broad range of sanctions using several different authorities and Executive orders (E.O.s), including counter-terrorism (E.O. 13224), human rights abuses (E.O. 13572), and non-proliferation (E.O. 13382). The United States has also prohibited the exportation of services to Syria, and there have long been legal restrictions on what goods U.S. persons can export to Syria.

These sanctions mean that U.S. persons are not permitted to do business with individuals or entities on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), or with any entity 50 percent or more owned by an Specially Designated National (SDN), unless exempt or authorized by OFAC through a general or specific license.

226. How can I help the Syrian people while making sure to abide by the U.S. sanctions?

Recognizing that the Syrian people need many critical services and goods, OFAC has issued several general licenses that, among other things, allow all U.S. persons to send non-commercial, personal remittances to Syrian persons without needing to apply to OFAC for a separate or specific license. Moreover, U.S. persons may donate humanitarian goods like food and medicine to people in Syria, as long as such donations are consistent with Commerce and OFAC regulations.

Finally, OFAC has also issued a general license to allow nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to engage in not-for-profit activities in Syria in support of humanitarian projects, democracy-building, education, and non-commercial development projects directly benefitting the Syrian people. Copies of all OFAC general licenses issued for Syria can be found here. For any activities that fall outside of these general licenses, specific authorization from OFAC would be required, unless the transactions fall within a small category that are exempt from regulation by statute.

As mentioned above, one of the goals of the U.S. sanctions on Syria is to reinforce the President’s call for Bashar al-Assad to step down and to disrupt the Assad regime’s ability to finance its campaign of violence against the Syrian people. OFAC can issue a specific license to authorize particular transactions that may otherwise be prohibited by the sanctions, as long as those transactions are in the foreign policy interests of the United States. For example, specific licenses may be issued on a case-by case basis to authorize charitable donations of funds that would otherwise be prohibited by the Syrian sanctions regime.

227. May I continue to send money to family or friends in Syria?

Yes. OFAC General License No. 6 authorizes U.S. depository institutions, including banks, and U.S.-registered money transmitters, to process non-commercial, personal remittances to or from Syria, or for or on behalf of an individual ordinarily resident in Syria, provided the funds transfer is not by, to, or through the Government of Syria or any other person designated or otherwise blocked by OFAC. Such transactions do not require further authorization from OFAC. If banks or other institutions have questions about processing remittances, they can contact OFAC’s Sanctions Compliance and Evaluation Division via the OFAC hotline at (800) 540-6322 or (202) 622-2490.

228. May I send personal remittances through the Commercial Bank of Syria, the Syrian-Lebanese Commercial Bank, or the Syria International Islamic Bank (SIIB) to family or friends in Syria?

No. General License No. 6 does not authorize any transactions involving individuals or entities designated under E.O. 13382, which targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters, including the Commercial Bank of Syria, the Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank, and the SIIB. On August 10, 2011, under Executive Order 13382, the Department of the Treasury designated the Commercial Bank of Syria for its involvement in proliferation activities, and also designated its subsidiary, the Syrian-Lebanese Commercial Bank. On May 30, 2012, the Department of the Treasury also designated the SIIB. Therefore, the use of these financial institutions is not authorized by General License No. 6.

229. Do I need a specific license from OFAC to send U.S.-origin food or medicine to Syria?

No. You may send U.S.-origin food or medicine to Syria without a specific license from OFAC. The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”), which maintains jurisdiction over the export of most items to Syria, does not require a license for the export of U.S.-origin food and most medicine to Syria. For further guidance regarding the exportation of items to Syria, including a list of such items, please review the BIS Syria Web page, or contact BIS by phone at (202) 482-4252.

230. Can I give donations to NGOs to help the Syrian people?

Yes. U.S. persons can give a charitable donation to U.S. or third-country NGOs, but U.S. persons cannot send such a donation directly to Syria or a Syrian entity without a specific license in order to try to protect the donations from being misused. U.S. depository institutions, including banks, and U.S.-registered money transmitters, are allowed to process transfers of funds to or from Syria on behalf of U.S. NGOs and third-country NGOs in support of the not-for-profit activities described in OFAC General License No. 11.*

These not-for-profit activities include: (1) activities to support humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs in Syria, including drought relief, assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict victims, food and medicine distribution, and the provision of health services; (2) activities to support democracy building in Syria, including rule of law, citizen participation, government accountability, and civil society development projects; (3) activities to support education in Syria, including combating illiteracy, increasing access to education, and assisting education reform projects; and (4) activities to support non-commercial development projects directly benefiting the Syrian people, including preventing infectious disease and promoting maternal/child health, sustainable agriculture, and clean water assistance.

General License No. 11 does not authorize transactions with the Government of Syria or other blocked persons, except for limited transactions with the Government of Syria that are necessary for the above-described not-for-profit activities, such as payment of taxes and other fees.

*For guidance on specific questions with respect to charitable donations, NGOs, and the scope of General License No. 11, please reach out to OFAC. Contact information may be found here.

231. Can U.S. NGOs deliver humanitarian assistance directly to Syria?

Yes. U.S. NGOs may provide services to Syria in support of humanitarian projects in Syria without the need for a specific license from OFAC because this activity is covered under OFAC General License No. 11. However, other U.S. government authorities, including the BIS export requirements, may apply to the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Syria. For further guidance, please review the BIS Syria Web page or contact BIS or contact BIS by phone at (202) 482-4252.

NGOs considering entering Syria to conduct assistance operations should be aware that areas of Syria are extremely unstable and dangerous, and should review the State Department’s Travel Warning for Syria http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/syria-travel-warning.html.

U.S. persons should exercise caution not to engage in prohibited transactions with the Syrian Government or any individual or entity on OFAC’s SDN list.

232. As an individual, can I send financial donations directly to Syria in support of charitable activities under General License No. 11?

No. Without a specific license, U.S. persons are not permitted to transfer financial donations directly to Syria or to NGOs in Syria. Therefore, if you wish to donate funds in support of humanitarian work in Syria, you may do so by giving funds to U.S. or third-country NGOs to support not-for-profit activities in Syria, per General License No. 11 and as described above.

If you still wish to send a charitable donation directly to Syria or to a Syrian NGO, you may apply to OFAC for specific authorization to transmit such funds. You should provide as much information as possible about how the funds would be transferred, the recipients, and the end use of the funds. Although General License No. 6 does not authorize charitable donations, as mentioned above non-commercial, personal remittances can be sent to Syria under GL No. 6.

841. What does Syria General License 20 authorize?

Syria General License (GL) 20 authorizes, subject to certain conditions, all transactions and activities prohibited by the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (SySR) that are ordinarily incident and necessary to the wind down of transactions involving, directly or indirectly, Emma Tel LLC or any entity in which Emma Tel LLC owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest, through 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time, December 30, 2020.  Persons unable to wind down transactions prohibited by the SySR involving, directly or indirectly, Emma Tel LLC, or any entity in which Emma Tel LLC owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest, before 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time, December 30, 2020, are encouraged to seek guidance from OFAC.  

For the duration of GL 20, non-U.S. persons may wind down transactions involving, directly or indirectly, Emma Tel LLC, or any entity in which Emma Tel LLC owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest, without exposure to sanctions under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, provided that such wind down activity is consistent with GL 20.  While GL 20 is in effect, wind down transactions involving non-U.S. persons may be processed through the U.S. financial system or involve U.S. persons, as long as the transactions comply with the terms and conditions in GL 20.  Non-U.S. persons unable to wind down transactions involving, directly or indirectly, Emma Tel LLC or any entity in which Emma Tel LLC owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest before 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time, December 30, 2020, are encouraged to seek guidance from OFAC.