Australia and sanctions
Frequently asked questions
Which countries are subject to sanctions under Australian law?
You should note that although sanctions regimes are often identified by reference to a country (ie ‘Somalia Sanctions’), a regime will often include sanctions on persons or entities that are not nationals of, or not based in, that country. Irrespective of whether a country is sanctioned or not, you cannot provide assets to, or deal with the assets of, persons or entities on the Consolidated List .
Sanctions regimes are updated regularly. To receive notification of updates to Australian sanctions law subscribe to our email list .
Will I be affected by the sanctions of another country?
The sanctions laws of other countries and/or the European Union may apply to the activities of Australian citizens or Australian-registered bodies corporate, whether undertaken in Australia or overseas. It is your responsibility to ensure you do not contravene a sanctions law of Australia. You should consider the wider legal and commercial context of your trade and investments and seek your own legal advice on whether you might be affected by the sanctions law of another country.
ASO cannot provide you with legal advice, including on the laws of another country.
Example: Australian businesses engaging with Iranian entities should monitor US sanctions and seek legal advice on whether your operations are affected. You may also wish to consult with your financial institution to ensure that any payments from Iran can be accepted, as some banks have restricted dealing with Iran due to US sanctions law
What is due diligence?
If you intend to engage in activity with a sanctioned country, it is incumbent on you to familiarise yourself with the applicable Australian sanctions law (see What You Need To Know and Sanctions Regimes ) and ensure that you know who you are dealing with and, if applicable, understand how the goods/services you are providing or procuring will ultimately be used. This includes understanding your customer’s business and organisational structure.
The level of due diligence required will vary depending on the nature of the activity you propose to engage in and the risk of non-compliance with Australian sanctions law. At a minimum we expect you to:
- conduct your own checks on the person or entity involved in the sanctioned activity;
- understand the company structure (if applicable) and any links to designated individuals and entities;
- understand the end user and the end use of a good;
- check DFAT’s Consolidated List to ascertain if you would be dealing with a designated person or entity (directly or indirectly); and
- keep records of the due diligence that is conducted.
How do I find out whether a person or entity I want to deal with is subject to sanctions?
You are responsible for conducting the due diligence necessary to properly inform yourself about persons or entities connected with your proposed activity or operation to ensure you do not contravene sanctions law.
As part of your own due diligence checks, you can search the Consolidated List. The Consolidated List is a list of all persons and entities who are subject to targeted financial sanctions under Australian sanctions law. Go to Consolidated List for information on searching the list.
What is a designated person or entity?
A designated person or entity is an individual, organisation, group or business who is subject to targeted financial sanctions under Australian sanctions law. Those listed may be Australian citizens, foreign nationals, or residents in Australia or overseas.
It is a serious criminal offence to provide assets to, or deal with the assets of, a listed person or entity. The penalties include up to 10 years in prison for individuals and substantial fines for individuals and bodies corporate.
The Consolidated List is a list of all persons and entities who are subject to targeted financial sanctions under Australian sanctions law. Go to the Consolidated List for further information on searching the list.
What is the difference between ASO’s Consolidated List and the UNSC Consolidated List?
ASO’s Consolidated List contains all persons and entities subject to targeted financial sanctions under Australian sanctions law. This includes persons and entities designated under Australian autonomous sanctions regimes as well as UNSC regimes. Go to Consolidated List for further information.
The UNSC Consolidated List contains only persons, entities and vessels designated under UNSC sanctions regimes. It does not include persons and entities designated under Australian autonomous sanctions.
What are targeted financial sanctions?
Targeted financial sanctions prohibit:
- directly or indirectly making an asset available to (or for the benefit of) a designated person or entity; and
- an asset-holder using or dealing with an asset that is owned or controlled by a designated person or entity. As these assets cannot be used or dealt with, they are referred to as ‘frozen’.
What are arms or related matériel?
There is no exhaustive definition in law of arms or related matériel. This means that not all goods that are arms or related matériel are listed in the definition. Relevant regulations define arms or related matériel similarly as including weapons, ammunition, military vehicles or equipment, and the spare parts and accessories for any of those things, and paramilitary equipment. Go to Factsheet: Arms and Related Matériel for information on what to consider when assessing whether a good is arms or related matériel.
What is technical advice, assistance or training?
Technical advice, assistance or training includes the transfer of information, tools or skills from one person or entity to another in order to address an identified need. It can include sharing information or expertise, providing instruction, providing consulting services, delivering training or supplying technical data amongst other things.
What is in the national interest?
What is in the national interest will depend on the particular circumstances. Relevant factors may include the broader objectives of a particular sanctions regime, whether the activity is in the interests of or would be advantageous to Australia as a whole (which may include economic, security, and any other relevant foreign policy considerations), and any effect on Australia’s international reputation or standing or external relations. The Minister or delegate will consider all relevant considerations in making an assessment of whether the granting of a permit is in the national interest.
What is an inquiry and how do I apply for one?
ASO may answer an inquiry of whether you are affected by Australian sanctions law. You can request an inquiry in ASO’s portal OSAS. Before making a request, you should read all the information on this website, follow the What You Need To Do Check list and get your own legal advice as appropriate.
What is a sanctions permit and how do I apply for one?
A sanctions permit is authorisation from the Minister for Foreign Affairs (or the Minister’s delegate) to undertake an activity that would otherwise be prohibited by an Australian sanctions law. If a sanctions permit is granted, conditions may be attached to that permit. Different sanctions regimes impose different criteria for the grant of a permit. Go to Sanctions Permits for further information on sanctions permits, including how to apply for a permit in ASO’s portal OSAS .
How long will it take to get an outcome from an inquiry and/or a sanctions permit?
ASO is committed to administering Australian sanctions law diligently, but also in a way that facilitates trade wherever possible.
While we will work as quickly as possible to process requests and applications, if possible you should allow 3 months for ASO to process your request for an inquiry or permit application, especially for complex activities and activities in high-risk countries or regions. Generally we expect, although cannot always guarantee, that it will take us 6-8 weeks to process. It may, however, take significantly longer if any of the factors below apply.
The time it will take to get a response will depend on a range of factors, including:
- the complexity of your inquiry or application;
- whether all relevant information has been provided, including supporting documentation;
- whether you respond promptly to any request for further information or documentation;
- the time it takes to check the information you have given us;
- the time it takes to get information from other Australian Government agencies (where necessary);
- the time it takes to consult the UNSC or other countries where required, for example if a permit application relates to a UNSC sanction, we may need to notify or receive the approval of the relevant UNSC sanctions committee;
- whether your proposed activity is taking place in a high-risk country or region, which will require a higher degree of risk management; and
- our current caseload, as high caseloads can cause delays.
We assess requests and applications on a case-by-case basis. Generally, we work on requests and applications in the order we receive them. However, this does not necessarily mean they will be finalised in the same order. Some request and applications will take longer than others to process.
Why do I need a permit from ASO and a permit from DEC?
Any export goods (including software and technology) that are both on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) and are sanctioned goods will require an export permit from Defence Export Controls (DEC) and a sanctions permit from ASO in order for the goods to be exported.
Goods included on the DSGL may not be exported, supplied, published or brokered from Australia unless either the Minister for Defence has granted a permit or a legislative exemption applies to the export, supply, publication or brokering activity. DEC is responsible to the Minister for Defence for regulating the export of defence and strategic goods and technologies. A permit allowing the export, supply, publication or brokering of goods on the DSGL can be issued via DEC.
If the same goods are also considered sanctioned goods under Australian sanctions law the export of the goods will still be prohibited unless the Minister for Foreign Affairs (or the Minister’s delegate) has granted a permit authorising the supply of the goods. ASO is responsible to the Minister for Foreign Affairs for regulating the export of sanctioned goods. Go to Sanctions Permits for information on how to apply for a sanctions permit.
What should I do if I have information on a possible breach of Australian sanctions law?
If you have any information in relation to a possible contravention of an Australian sanctions law, you should notify ASO by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and notify the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
What if I think an activity looks suspicious?
It can be difficult to know when something is suspicious, but if it doesn’t seem right you should increase your due diligence and conduct extra checks to ensure your proposed activity is legitimate. Signs of suspicious activity may include:
- changes in destination or efforts to conceal the destination or origin of a shipment, to reroute through third countries without good reason, or conceal the identity of the person or entity being dealt with;
- unwillingness to share information requested for the purposes of assessing a sanctions inquiry;
- transactions just below reporting thresholds;
- unwillingness to share information about background or end users which would normally be available;
- fake or suspicious-looking documentation (identity documents, commercial documentation etc); and
- any other unusual or inconsistent information.
These things may or may not be an indicator of suspicious activity. If something makes you uncertain or raises your suspicion, please note this on your request for an inquiry or application for a permit.
If you come across activity which you suspect may contravene Australian sanctions law, you should notify ASO by emailing us at email@example.com and notify the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
What should I do if I hold, or think I may hold, an asset connected with a designated person or entity subject to targeted financial sanctions?
If you are, or think you may be, using or dealing with an asset that is owned or controlled by a designated person or entity (that is, you are holding a freezable or controlled asset), you must hold (or ‘freeze’) the asset and inform the Australian Federal Police (AFP) as soon as possible. Asset holders are required by law to provide the AFP with specific information about controlled assets (see regulation 42 of the Charter of the United Nations (Dealing with Assets) Regulations 2008 and regulation 24 of the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011).
How do I contact the AFP?
You can contact the AFP online or by telephone. Information on how to contact the AFP and report a crime is provided here on the AFP website .
What if I think I've made a mistake?
Tell us. We respect when you have made your best efforts to comply and mistakes happen. If you identify that you have unintentionally undertaken an activity in contravention of an Australian sanctions law, without a permit to do so, please notify us immediately through by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to work with you to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities, and is willing and able to comply. We will work with you to prevent and address breaches.
My goods were stopped by the Australian Border Force – what happens next?
Goods destined for a sanctioned country (go to Sanctions Regimes ) are subject to additional scrutiny at the border. The Australian Border Force (ABF) has broad powers to stop the export or import of goods from Australia to ensure compliance with Australian law and international obligations. If the ABF believes the export or import of your goods may require a sanctions permit, the ABF will hold your goods at the border and request ASO to conduct a sanctions assessment. The ABF may request further information from you and will notify you, or your authorised agent, if your export or import has been referred to ASO for assessment. The ABF will not release your goods until ASO has completed its sanctions assessment, as the ABF must ensure that all export/import requirements have been met prior to any release. If you have questions regarding the hold of your goods, you may contact the ABF or your authorised agent. ABF contact details and further information regarding the export and import process can be found on the ABF website .
If ASO determines the export or import of your goods does not require a sanctions permit, it will inform the ABF. The processing time for sanctions assessments can take several weeks or longer. The timeframe varies depending on:
- the destination sanctioned country;
- the nature of the goods;
- the extent of other agency consultation required; and
- the time it takes ASO to obtain the necessary information to complete its assessment.
If ASO determines your goods require a sanctions permit for export or import, you will need to apply for a sanctions permit in ASO’s portal OSAS to enable ASO to assess whether a permit can be granted. Go to Sanctions Permits for further information on how to apply for a sanctions permit. You should be aware that a sanctions permit issued in these circumstances will apply to any action you take following the release of the goods from ABF, not to any action taken prior to their release.
Why have my goods been stopped from export?
There are several export and trade controls which might affect your business, even if Australian sanctions laws don’t apply. Before importing or exporting goods, or providing services overseas, you may need to comply with customs and biosecurity requirements, as well as export controls. Not seeking appropriate permits in advance can result in your goods being stopped at the border. Further information can be obtained on the Australian Border Force website , and the Defence Export Controls website .
Why won’t my bank make a payment when there does not seem to any Australian sanctions laws that apply?
There are also anti money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws which govern international payments. If you have a transaction declined, you should contact your financial institution in the first instance to understand the reasons for their actions.
Other countries may also have sanctions and export controls in place which can affect your business. For example, the United States has autonomous sanctions regimes which can apply to activities outside the US, and which may also affect the willingness of US businesses to support Australian companies when dealing with entities sanctioned under those laws. Some banks have been unwilling to handle transactions associated with particular countries, due to the associated commercial risks. You may wish to consult with your financial institution to ensure that any payments to or from US sanctioned countries can be accepted, and discuss this with them directly. The Australian Sanctions Office is not able to provide advice to business on foreign sanctions laws. If you are concerned about the impact of foreign sanctions on your business, you should seek your own legal advice on how they might apply to your specific situation.
What should I do if I am having IT difficulties using OSAS?
Please see the User Guides and support material on OSAS.
What will you do with information I provide you, including personal or commercially in-confidence information?
The business and financial information you provide to the Australian Sanctions Office will be treated as confidential, unless you state otherwise. This information may be used to administer sanctions law in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 and the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 , and in relation to import/export controls. We will not disclose this information to third parties for any other purpose, unless you have provided your consent or we are otherwise authorised to do so by law.
How do I apply to have a travel ban waived?
The Department of Home Affairs is responsible for implementing all visa restrictions in respect of travel bans listed under Australian sanctions law. Any enquiries or requests to waive a travel ban should be made to the Department of Home Affairs. The Department of Home Affairs will liaise with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on any enquiries or requests, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs is responsible for decisions regarding travel ban waivers.
How do I make a request to be removed from a sanctions list?
Go to Requests To Be De-Listed for information on how to make a request to be removed from a sanctions list.