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U.S. humanitarian assistance relating to coronavirus in Iran (FAQ)

U.S. humanitarian assistance relating to coronavirus

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today issued a “frequently asked question” (FAQ) regarding the manner in which humanitarian goods or assistance can be provided to the people of Iran in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


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The FAQ provides the following:

828. I want to help with the humanitarian response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in Iran. What can I do to help while remaining compliant with U.S. sanctions?

There are a number of ways to provide humanitarian goods or assistance to the Iranian people in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran, consistent with U.S. sanctions.

The making of humanitarian donations to recipients in Iran from the United States or by U.S. persons, including the donation of medicine intended to relieve human suffering, are generally exempt from U.S. sanctions on Iran under section 560.210(b) of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR Part 560 (ITSR), provided that such donations are not being made to the Government of Iran or other persons blocked pursuant to section 560.211 of the ITSR, or to any individual or entity listed on OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List).

In addition, the United States maintains broad exceptions and authorizations that allow for the commercial sale and export of humanitarian goods, including medicine and medical devices, to Iran or the Government of Iran from the United States or by U.S. persons or U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entities, subject to certain conditions. U.S. sanctions laws provide similar allowances for sales of humanitarian goods, including medicine and medical devices, to Iran by non-U.S. persons. These exemptions, exceptions, and authorizations generally do not apply to transactions involving persons on OFAC’s SDN List that have been designated in connection with Iran’s support for international terrorism or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). For humanitarian transactions involving the Central Bank of Iran, which was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224 as amended, please see General License 8 issued pursuant to the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR) and the ITSR, as well as OFAC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 821, 822, and 823.

Furthermore, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are authorized under General License E to export or re-export services to or related to Iran in support of certain not-for-profit activities designed to directly benefit the Iranian people, including the provision of donated health-related services and distribution of donated articles such as medicine intended to be used to relieve human suffering, in Iran.

Persons interested in providing humanitarian assistance to Iran related to the COVID-19 outbreak should review sections 560.210(b), 560.530, 560.532, and 560.533 and General License E of the ITSR and General License 8 issued pursuant to the GTSR and the ITSR, the guidance provided in FAQs 549, 637, 821, 822, 823, and 826​, and the guidance provided in “Guidance on the Sale of Food, Agricultural Commodities, Medicine, and Medical Devices by Non-U.S. Persons to Iran” and “Clarifying Guidance on Humanitarian Assistance and Related Exports to the Iranian People.” Other types of humanitarian activities or exports by U.S. persons may be authorized pursuant to a specific license from OFAC.

Please note any transfers of funds in support of activities authorized by General License E must be made by the NGOs themselves, and not directly by U.S. individuals, in accordance with the conditions of General License E. [03-06-2020]

For more information on this topic or to learn more about KPMG’s Trade & Customs Services, contact:

Doug Zuvich
Partner and Global Practice Leader
T: 312-665-1022

John L. McLoughlin
Principal and East Coast Leader
T: 267-256-2614

Andy Siciliano
Partner and National Practice Leader
T: 631-425-6057

Steve Brotherton
Principal and Global Export and Sanctions Leader
T: 415-963-7861

Luis (Lou) Abad
Principal, Washington National Tax
T: 212-954-3094

Irina Vaysfeld
T: 212-872-2973

Amie Ahanchian
T: 202-533-3247

Christopher Young
T: 312-665-3229

Gisele Belotto
Managing Director
T: 305-913-2779

George Zaharatos
T: 404-222-3292

Andy Doornaert
Managing Director
T: 313-230-3080

Jessica Libby
Managing Director
T: 612-305-5533

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