Frequently Asked Questions
How to Search OFAC's Sanctions Lists
Yes, OFAC does maintain its own web-based search service. It can be accessed at by clicking here
In addition to returning results that are exact matches (when the match threshold slider bar is set to 100%), Sanctions List Search can also provide a broader set of results using fuzzy logic. This logic uses character and string matching as well as phonetic matching. Only the name field of Sanctions List Search invokes fuzzy logic when the tool is run. The other fields on the tool use character matching logic. Please click here for more information on what a true sanctions list match is.
The score field indicates the similarity between the name entered and resulting matches on one of OFAC's sanctions lists. It is calculated using two matching logic algorithms: one based upon phonetics, and a second based upon the similarity of the characters in the two strings. A score of 100 indicates an exact match, while lower scores indicate potential matches.
The minimum name score field limits the number of names returned by the search. A value of 100 will return only names that exactly match the characters entered into the name field. A value of 50 will return all names that are deemed to be 50% similar based upon the matching logic of the search tool. By lowering the match threshold the system will return a broader result set.
Sanctions List Search uses two matching logic algorithms, and two matching logic techniques to calculate the score. The two algorithms are Jaro-Winkler, a string difference algorithm, and Soundex, a phonetic algorithm. The first technique involves using the Jaro-Winkler algorithm to compare the entire name string entered against full name strings of entries on OFAC's sanctions lists. The second technique involves splitting the name string entered into multiple name parts (for example, John Doe would be split into two name parts). Each name part is then compared to name parts on all of OFAC's sanctions lists using the Jaro-Winkler and Soundex algorithms. The search calculates a score for each name part entered, and a composite score for all name parts entered. Sanctions List Search uses both techniques each time the search is run, and returns the higher of the two scores in the Score column.
OFAC cannot make such a recommendation because each search has its own unique set of facts surrounding it. Users of Sanctions List Search must make their own match threshold determinations based upon their own internal risk assessments and established compliance practices.
Only the name field influences the score.
Only the name field uses the fuzzy searching logic.
Sanctions List Search’s ID field uses exact character matching to provide users with a result. In order to receive the broadest number of results, users should conduct ID field searches both with and without any non-alphanumeric characters.
Sanctions List Search is a free tool provided by OFAC to assist the public in complying with sanctions programs. It is intended to be used by individual users that are looking for potential matches on OFAC's sanctions lists. It should not be utilized by automated systems that are configured to continually run searches through the tool. For a copy of files that can be easily interpreted by automated systems and software programs, please see the list of XML, CSV, PIP, DEL, and FF files on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) and Consolidated Sanctions List pages.
Sanctions List Search will look for and return potential matches from the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) and Consolidated Sanctions Lists. The user can look under the List column to see which list(s) a potential match is on. Please see the Consolidated List page for more detailed information on what is included in the Consolidated List.
OFAC's Sanctions List Search is updated frequently and always contains the latest versions of OFAC's sanctions lists. Like OFAC's other list-related publications, Sanctions List Search does not contain historical information. Names that have been removed from OFAC's Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) or Consolidated Lists are not included in Sanctions List Search. Likewise, targets that have been updated only appear with their most up to date entry information. For historical information about a target on one of OFAC's sanctions lists, please see our archive page.