Friday, February 22, 2008

Tips for American NGOs on OFAC Licensing

Thanks to Jake Colvin at USA*Engage for passing this information along. It is from a meeting of NGOs with Treasury Department officials responsible for Iran licensing. This is not legal advice, and none of this should this be considered official U.S. government policy. All the observations and interpretations are for informational purposes only.

It appears that few nongovernmental organizations or individuals have applied for humanitarian-related license applications to operate in Iran since the aftermath of the Bam earthquake, though there have been some more that are religious or educational in nature. Officials noted a favorable licensing regime outlined in OFAC’s Statement of Licensing Policy.

This policy differs from the presumption of denial for most exchanges that existed just a few years ago.

The message from the U.S. Government seems to be that NGOs should consider applying for humanitarian licenses, notwithstanding previous difficulties with the system.

OFAC provided some tips NGOs should consider when submitting applications:

  • Provide as much information as possible in an organized format, including information on your organization (board members, sources of funding, etc.); information on the entity you wish to help or conduct an exchange with in Iran (persons involved; sources of funding/income; the organization’s history and mission; evidence that it is not affiliated with the government); and a plan for monitoring and accountability of the project and funding.
  • Be inclusive and use common sense. If you think the government would want to have a piece of information (your board list, funding sources, etc.), it’s a good bet they want it.
  • Fully identify any exports involved, particularly anything subject to U.S. export controls.
  • Exports of modern technology like computers may slow or stop your license.
  • Follow OFAC’s guidance on NGO license applications available in part here.

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