OFAC: Clarifying Guidance for Humanitarian Assistance and Related Exports to the Iranian People

February 6, 2013

As the Government of Iran continuesto ignore its international obligations, the U.N. Security Council and governments around the world, including the United States, have implemented a series of steadily tightening sanctions intended to impose consequences on Iran’s leadership for their failure to adhere to their obligations and alter their dangerous course. These sanctions have had a tangible impact on the government of Iran’s ability to engage in illicit activities, making concrete the costs and isolation that the Government of Iran will continue to face so long as its leadership chooses to ignore their international obligations. 

From the start, the United States and its international partners have worked to ensure that these sanctions do not prohibit the delivery of humanitarian assistance and exports of humanitarian goods to Iran. Accordingly, under U.S. law, the sale and export of nearly all types of food and medicine to Iran are broadly authorized,  and require no specific license or special authorization from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) or any other agency of the U.S. government. The sale and export of basic medical supplies are likewise broadly authorized. Other types of humanitarian exports may be authorized pursuant to a specific license from OFAC. In such instances, where U.S. persons are either specifically or generally authorized to engage in humanitarian exports to Iran, financial institutions here and abroad are generally permitted under U.S. law to process all financial transactions necessary to facilitate the trade.

Part I of this document provides an overview of current policies with respect to humanitarian assistance and exports to the Iranian people – first, for U.S. persons and financial institutions, and second, for third-country financial institutions. Part II provides additional guidance for the public as to specific procedures for license applications and other relevant guidance.