The importation and exportation of most goods and services to/from Iran is not permitted unless OFAC has issued a license authorizing that activity. There are two types of licenses issued by OFAC, general and specific licenses.  

General Licenses: 

General licenses permit transactions that the U.S. government believes are not going to violate U.S. sanctions’ policy goals.  

A general license basically states that all U.S. persons can engage in the specific activity and/or transactions outlined in general license. Examples of activities that are allowed under general licenses are sending family money, sending noncommercial personal remittances to/from Iran, selling real/personal property acquired as inheritance or before one became U.S. person, and more. If a general license exists for the desired activity, one does not need to apply for a specific license. 

Specific Licenses: 

A specific license is required for something that an individual or entity wants to engage in that is not allowed under sanctions regulations and there is no general license that authorizes that activity. 

In that case, that individual or entity would need to apply for a specific license asking for personal and specific authorization from the government to engage in that specific kind of activity. Applications for obtaining a specific license are usually in the form of a letter that is sent to the government via their online portal. 

A common mistake that is made is when individuals apply for a specific license when OFAC has already issued a general license permitting that activity. If a general license exists, the government will not issue a specific license in the individual’s name, instead, they will just return the application without taking any action on it. They will send a one-page “return without action” letter that has no legal significance and cannot serve as a license. 

If you thought you were granted a specific license but you are not sure, send us a copy via our mobile app or email (info@yazdanyarlaw.com) and we will be happy to take a look at it for you and let you know if the document is a specific or general license. 

            This article clarifies who OFAC considers to be a U.S. person as well as OFAC’s implications on owning and maintaining a bank account and real property in Iran as a U.S. person.

            Firstly, it is extremely important to understand who OFAC considers to be a U.S. person. If you do fall into the category of “U.S. person” according to sanctions regulations, you must follow the rules and regulations according to OFAC.

Who is a US Person according to OFAC (Sanctions Law)?

According to OFAC, you are a United States person if you are any of the following:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident alien (Green Card Holder)
  • An entity organized under the laws of the U.S. or any jurisdiction within the U.S. (including foreign branches)
  • Any person inside the U.S.

            According to OFAC, as a U.S. person, you are NOT allowed to own or maintain a bank account in Iran under any circumstances. If a U.S. person does own/maintain a bank account in Iran, the individual needs to seek authorization from OFAC to either continue maintaining or close down that bank account. In most circumstances they should also file a Voluntary Self-Disclosure with OFAC’s enforcement division.

When it comes to property, a U.S. person can own/maintain property only if that property was acquired BEFORE the individual became a U.S. person, or if the property was inherited afterwards. However, a U.S. person cannot, under any circumstances, gain rental income from that property UNLESS that individual obtained a specific license from OFAC authorizing him or her to do so. If any of this circumstances apply to you, please contact our office for more information and guidance.