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Sanctions Permits

What is a sanctions permit?

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.

What criteria do I need to meet?

Different sanctions regimes impose different criteria for the grant of a permit. In this section you will find general information on planning an activity and applying for a sanctions permit in Pax. More detailed information on specific criteria for each regime can be found under each Sanctions Regime.

Many sanctions applications we receive relate to the export or import of arms or related matériel. Go to Factsheet: Arms and Related Matériel for information on what to consider when assessing whether a good is an arm or related matériel.

For UNSC sanctions, the Foreign Minister may need to notify or receive the approval of the UNSC before granting a sanctions permit. Where required, the Australian Sanctions Office will assist the Foreign Minister to notify or seek approval from the UNSC as part of the permit application process.

Do I need to get legal advice?

If you think you may be affected by sanctions, you should get your own legal advice on whether your proposed activity is affected by sanctions and whether it meets the criteria for a permit.

How do I make an application for a sanctions permit?

You can make an application for a sanctions permit in the Australian sanctions portal Pax. You will first need to register as a user of Pax before preparing and submitting your application.

Before submitting an application, please read all the information on the ASO’s website, follow the What You Need to Do Checklist and get legal advice as appropriate. You should not submit an application for a permit unless you believe your proposed activity is affected by sanctions and it meets the criteria for a permit.

What information do I need to provide?

Pax will guide you on what information you need to provide to submit an application.

A Pax application should include all information about the proposed activity. This includes, for example:

  • detailed description of the goods and services involved, including the technical specification for your goods (this information should match any supporting documentation such as Purchase Orders or Defence End Use Statements);
  • detailed description of the end use of the goods or services,
  • detailed information on the end user and any other relevant parties to the proposed activities including end user certification; and
  • the intended transport pathway for any goods and services you propose to provide, from you, through any intermediaries, to the end user.

Please ensure that all information on goods and proposed activities is provided in plain English language and any additional information that may be relevant, for example information about potential uses of a good, is included.

You must ensure that the information you provide is accurate and complete. It is a serious criminal offence to give false or misleading information in connection with the administration of sanctions laws. The penalties include up to ten years in prison and substantial fines. A sanctions permit will be treated as never being granted if false or misleading information was contained in the application for the permit.

ASO may request further information in order to assess an application. To assist the efficient processing of your application, please answer requests for further information promptly and ensure all requested information is provided.

If a person wants to share information or documents with the ASO without breaching other legal obligations, they can ask the ASO to issue a notice requiring they share that information.

What does the ASO do with the information I provide?

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 long will it take?

The ASO processes Pax applications as quickly as possible. The 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 applications, if possible you should allow 3 months for the ASO to process your 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 to a Pax application. 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 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 (if necessary);
  • the time it takes to consult the UNSC or other countries where required, for example if an application relates to a UNSC sanction, the Foreign Minister 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 applications on a case-by-case basis. Generally, we work on applications in the order we receive them. However, this does not necessarily mean they will be finalised in the same order. Some applications will take longer than others to process.

You can login to Pax at any time to check the status of your application.

What can I do to avoid delays?

To avoid delays, it is important that you:

  • familiarise yourself with all the information this website
  • follow the What You Need To Do Checklist, including seeking your own legal advice as appropriate
  • register to use Pax
  • plan ahead and submit your application in Pax as early as possible, if you can allowing 3 months from the time of submitting your application to receive a response;
  • ensure you provide as much information as possible (complete and accurate information will ensure we can process your application much faster and avoid the delay of having to come back to you for more information);
  • provide information in plain English language; and
  • respond promptly to any request for further information.

What if I am granted a permit with conditions?

Sanctions permits are often granted with conditions. Any permit conditions will be set out in your permit. It is a serious criminal offence to contravene a condition of a sanctions permit. The penalties include up to ten years in prison for individuals and substantial fines for individuals and bodies corporate.

How long will my permit last?

The length of time of a permit is decided on a case-by-case basis. While permits are usually issued for a period of 180 days, they can be issued for a longer period of up to two years, where there is a reasonable case. For example, if you can provide details of future orders that would make up a series of transactions with one end-user, it may be possible to process these under one application and issue a single permit for a longer duration. You must provide sufficient detail in the application, including on the final end-user, timing and end-use location/project, as well as the specific goods to be exported.

However, it is important to note that sanctions laws may change during the validity period of the permit. Permits will no longer be valid if changes to sanctions laws means that the activity is prohibited. It is your responsibility to ensure you have sufficient terms in your contracts in the event sanctions laws change. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will not be liable or responsible for any loss or damage, however described, incurred by permit holders as a result of changes to sanctions laws.

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