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Authorized Activities with Iran

Authorized Activities with Iran


The Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) broadly regulates and restricts transactions with embargoed countries including certain academic collaborations and exchange of research materials and equipment. The most comprehensive controls apply to: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. The regulations are country specific. This overview of selected prohibited transactions and exemptions focuses on OFAC regulations regarding transactions with Iran, specifically the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (31 CFR Part 560).


Penalties can apply to the individual, the institution or both. Criminal penalties may result in fines of up to $1 million per violation and up to 20 years in jail for natural persons. Civil penalties may also be imposed, in an amount up to $250,000 or an amount equal to twice the amount that is the basis of the violation.

Who this applies to

OFAC regulations apply to U.S. persons. The term United States person means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States. See 31 CFR §560.314.

The regulations apply to United States citizens and permanent residents wherever located, and to foreign nationals located inside the United States (and in some cases, to foreign nationals outside the U.S. See 31 CFR §560.205 and 560.420).

Impact of Iranian Nuclear Agreement

U.S. sanctions relief under the Iranian Nuclear Agreement is limited to certain categories of secondary sanctions applicable to non-U.S. individuals and entities. Broadly speaking, U.S. primary sanctions of Iran, applicable to U.S. persons, will remain. Limited sanctions relief includes, via license, sale of commercial passenger aircraft, related parts and services, and importation into the U.S. of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs. Secondary sanctions relief focuses on financial, energy, and other industries.


OFAC’s website provides information about the Iran Sanctions program, including sanctions brochures, advisories, and Frequently Asked Questions, which can be found at:

Prohibited Transactions

Sanctions against Iran prohibit the import of goods and services from Iran and the export of goods, technology, or services to Iran. Anything that you take with you to Iran is considered an export under the regulations. “Services” is broadly construed to mean providing anything of value, even if no money is exchanged.

Examples of prohibited services include:

  • Attending a conference in Iran
  • Providing technical assistance to an Iranian national in Iran or an Iranian institution
  • Providing unpublished data or research results to a person or institution in Iran
  • Teaching or lecturing as a guest of an institution in Iran
  • Conducting surveys and interviews inside Iran

While travel to Iran is not prohibited, most university activity that would potentially take place while in Iran is likely to require a Specific License from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The Export Compliance Officer makes determinations about license applicability. Applications for Specific Licenses should be made at least 6 months before the activity begins and before travel arrangements are made.

Exemptions to the Prohibited Transactions

Exemptions to the sanctions include (but are not limited to) the importation or exportation of information or informational materials, peer review and publishing activities, personal communications, travel, and certain academic exchanges and educational services. The applicability of exemptions must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Export Control as each exemption has specific requirements that must be satisfied.

Travel to and activities within Iran will be reviewed and approved by the Office of Export Control, in conjunction with the Office of International Education, where appropriate. Pursuant to Accounts Payable Policy, failure to submit a timely Travel Authority prior to traveling to Iran may result in denial of the reimbursement claim. For more information visit the Export Control Website.

Last modified on Friday, 21 October 2016 13:10