The deadly earthquake that struck Kermanshah has left the region devastated and in dire need of resources. Many individuals and entities have contacted our office asking how they can donate to the cause while also ensuring that they are complying with U.S. sanctions law.
Please be advise that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has an in place a general license, General License E, regarding the support of humanitarian activity in Iran. More specifically, General License E, authorizes nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to export or reexport services to Iran or related to Iran in support of the following not-for-profit activities that are designed to directly benefit the Iranian people.
Examples of Permitted Activities:
(1) Activities related to humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs in Iran such as donating health-related services; operation of orphanages; provision of relief services related to natural disasters; distribution of donated articles, such as food, clothing, and medicine, intended to be used to relieve human suffering; and donated training related to any of the foregoing activities.
(2) Activities related to non-commercial reconstruction projects in response to natural disasters in Iran for a period of up to two years following the natural disaster;
While the above types of activities are permitted, please be advised that the transfers of funds in support of the activities outlined above by a single NGO may not exceed USD $500,000 in the aggregate over a 12-month period.
Furthermore, NGOs who engage in conduct pursuant to this general license must submit reports to OFAC on a quarterly basis, providing information including but not limited to a detailed description of the services exported or reexported to Iran, any Iranian NGOs, Government of Iran entities, Iranian financial institutions, or other Iranian persons involved in the activities; the dollar amounts of any transfers to Iran; and the beneficiaries of those transfers. Reports must be filed with the Licensing Division of OFAC.
Please be advised, that individuals MAY NOT fundraise on their own for the purposes of sending funds directly to Iran as General License E provides authorization for NGOS and not individuals. Therefore, individuals should work with and donate funds through non-profit organizations to assist with the earthquake relief effort in Iran. However, individuals in the U.S. may send non-commercial personal remittances to Iran to their own family and friends provided that the transfer complies with sections 560.516 and 560.550 of the Iranian Transactions Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).
And finally, donations of articles such as food, clothing, and medicine intended to be used to relieve human suffering are exempt from the sanctions on trade between the United States and Iran, as long as the donations are not being sent to the Government of Iran or any Iranian individual or entity on the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List).
If you have any questions regarding this matter or if you are a non-profit organization and would like additional information or guidance regarding how to legally raise funds for the Kermanshah relief effort please feel free to contact our firm. It will be our pleasure to provide you with pro bono assistance.