Frequently Asked Questions (Excerpts)

October 8, 2020

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842. What does General License L (GL L) authorize with respect to the financial sector of Iran and Iranian financial institutions (Iranian FIs) now sanctioned pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13902?

GL L authorizes under E.O. 13902 all transactions and activities involving Iranian FIs blocked pursuant to E.O. 13902 that are authorized, exempt, or otherwise not prohibited under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).  E.O. 13902, which was issued on January 10, 2020, is not incorporated into the ITSR at this time.  However, GL L effectively extends the authorizations, exemptions, and activity otherwise excluded from prohibition under the ITSR to apply to those Iranian FIs blocked under E.O. 13902.  This includes, but is not limited to, (i) transactions and activities authorized by general and specific licenses issued pursuant to the ITSR and (ii) transactions and activities ordinarily incident to such transactions and activities and necessary to give effect thereto that are consistent with section 560.405 of the ITSR.  For example, if a U.S. person or a U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entity relied on a general or specific license issued pursuant to the ITSR to engage in transactions and activities involving such Iranian FIs prior to these actions under E.O. 13902, GL L provides the additional OFAC authorization needed to continue to engage in such transactions and activities.

GL L does not authorize any transactions or activities that are otherwise prohibited by the ITSR, E.O. 13902, or any other part of 31 C.F.R. chapter V.  

Please note that the exemptions and authorizations in the ITSR remain otherwise applicable according to their terms.  In addition, pursuant to Section 11 of E.O. 13902, the prohibitions of E.O. 13902 do not apply with respect to any person for conducting or facilitating a transaction for the provision (including any sale) of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, or medical devices to Iran; pursuant to Section 12 of E.O. 13902, the prohibitions of E.O. 13902 do not apply with respect to transactions for the conduct of the official business of the United Nations (including its specialized agencies, programmes, funds, and related organizations) by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof.

843. I’m a U.S. person that relied on general or specific licenses issued pursuant to the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) to conduct humanitarian-related or other transactions and activities prior to the identification of the financial sector of Iran and sanctioning of a number of Iranian financial institutions (Iranian FIs) under E.O. 13902.  Is any further authorization needed to conduct such transactions following these actions?

No.  General License (GL) L extends authorizations provided through specific and general licenses issued under the ITSR to apply to transactions and activities involving Iranian FIs blocked pursuant to E.O. 13902.  Further authorization from OFAC beyond GL L is not required under E.O. 13902, so long as such transactions and activities are authorized pursuant to a general license or a specific license under the ITSR, including for humanitarian-related transactions and activities authorized pursuant to the ITSR that are not covered by the exception in Section 11 of E.O. 13902.  

Any transactions otherwise prohibited by the ITSR or any other part of 31 C.F.R. chapter V must be separately licensed, as appropriate.

844. Do non-U.S. persons risk exposure to U.S. secondary sanctions for engaging in humanitarian-related transactions, or other activities that would be authorized under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations and GL L if engaged in by a U.S. person, involving Iranian financial institutions (Iranian FIs) sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13902?

No.  Non-U.S. persons generally do not risk exposure to U.S. secondary sanctions for engaging in the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, or medical devices to Iran, as such transactions are generally subject to exceptions in E.O. 13902 and other applicable sanctions authorities.  

However, such transactions should not involve persons designated on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List) in connection with Iran’s support for international terrorism or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) unless otherwise permitted, such as certain transactions or activities involving the Central Bank of Iran that are consistent with General License (GL) 8.  

Additionally, non-U.S. persons do not risk exposure to U.S. secondary sanctions for engaging in transactions and activities involving the Iranian financial sector or an Iranian FI blocked pursuant to E.O. 13902 that would be authorized under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) and GL L if engaged in by a U.S. person, provided such transactions and activities do not involve any person designated on the SDN List in connection with Iran’s support for international terrorism or proliferation of WMD.

845. Will there be a wind-down period for non-U.S. persons engaged in previously non-sanctionable activity involving the Iranian financial sector or Iranian financial institutions (FIs) that are now sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13902?

Yes.  Non-U.S. persons engaged in transactions and activities involving the Iranian financial sector or any Iranian FI sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13902 that were not previously sanctionable will have 45 days to conclude these activities without risking exposure to sanctions.  The 45-day wind-down period ends on November 22, 2020.  Non-U.S. persons engaged in certain activities involving Iranian FIs sanctioned under E.O. 13902 after that date may be exposed to sanctions.  OFAC continues to analyze whether select types of transactions and activities may, nonetheless, be non-significant and, thus, not sanctionable even after the end of the wind-down period.  OFAC anticipates issuing additional guidance regarding the scope of transactions and activity by non-U.S. persons that will become sanctionable after November 22, 2020.  

Note that, even after the wind-down period, non-U.S. persons do not risk exposure to sanctions for engaging in humanitarian-related transactions or activities, including conducting or facilitating a transaction for the provision (including any sale) of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, and medical devices to Iran, with Iranian FIs sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13902.  In addition, GL L authorizes under E.O. 13902 those transactions and activities involving Iranian FIs blocked pursuant to E.O. 13902 that are authorized, exempt, or otherwise not prohibited under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.  For more information, please see FAQs 842 and 844.

846. How do the sanctions imposed on the Iranian financial sector and Iranian financial institutions (FIs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13902 affect waivers issued by the Department of State and exceptions set forth in the Iranian Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA)?

Waivers issued by the Department of State (State) and exceptions set forth in IFCA remain valid and activities conducted under them involving Iranian FIs are not sanctionable during the wind-down period described in FAQ 845.  Persons engaged in transactions or activities involving the Iranian financial sector or Iranian FIs sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13902 that are permitted by a current State waiver or IFCA exception may continue these activities, in accordance with the conditions of those waivers or exceptions, without risking exposure to sanctions.  The State Department, in consultation with OFAC, continues to assess whether these waivers and exceptions require modification prior to the close of the wind-down period to account for actions taken pursuant to E.O. 13902 and ensure uninterrupted activity, as appropriate.  For more information, please contact the Department of State.

847. As a result of the sanctions on the Iranian financial sector and Iranian financial institutions (Iranian FIs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13902, do non-U.S. persons risk exposure to sanctions for continuing to engage in previously non-sanctionable trade involving the Iranian financial sector or E.O.13902-sanctioned Iranian FIs even after the end of the 45-day wind-down period?

For purposes of E.O. 13902, OFAC would not generally view transactions or activities by non-U.S. persons to be sanctionable if they are consistent with activities permissible by U.S. persons.  As noted in FAQ 842, General License (GL) L authorizes U.S. persons to engage in transactions and activities involving Iranian FIs blocked pursuant to E.O. 13902 that are authorized, exempt, or otherwise excluded from prohibition under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).  In addition, pursuant to Section 11 of E.O. 13902, the prohibitions of E.O. 13902 do not apply with respect to any person for conducting or facilitating a transaction for the provision (including any sale) of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, or medical devices to Iran, nor do the prohibitions apply to transactions for the conduct of the official business of the United Nations (including its specialized agencies, programmes, funds, and related organizations) by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof.

OFAC continues to analyze whether select types of transactions and activities may, nonetheless, be non-significant and, thus, not sanctionable even after the end of the wind-down period.  OFAC anticipates issuing additional guidance regarding the scope of transactions and activity by non-U.S. persons involving the Iranian financial sector and Iranian FIs sanctioned pursuant to E.O. 13902 that will become sanctionable after November 22, 2020.  For example, OFAC anticipates issuing guidance that outlines expected regulatory definitions for the Iranian financial sector, as well as goods and services used in connection with the sector, for purposes of evaluating sanctions risk pursuant to E.O. 13902.  

Consistent with previous guidance issued in connection with E.O. 13902, foreign financial institutions (FFIs) and other non-U.S. persons would not generally risk exposure to U.S. sanctions for engaging in transactions for the purpose of supporting the sale, supply, or transfer of certain goods and services to Iran or for manufacturing of such goods in Iran, solely for use in Iran and not for export from Iran, to ensure the protection of life, health, and safety, such as: products used for sanitation, hygiene, medical care, medical safety, manufacturing safety, including soap, hand sanitizer, ventilators, respirators, personal hygiene products, diapers, infant and childcare items, personal protective equipment, manufacturing safety systems, safety devices, alarm systems, and ventilation systems.

Please note that sanctions in connection with other sectors of the Iranian economy identified under E.O. 13902 remain in effect unless otherwise permitted.