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Australia and sanctions

Navigating Australian sanctions presentation

The Australian Sanctions Office (ASO) has developed a presentation that provides you with an easy to digest overview of key aspects of Australia’s sanctions regimes. The information from the presentation is available below and downloadable versions are also available in both PowerPoint and PDF formats.

Please note: The information in the presentation is a summary only of relevant sanctions laws. It is not intended to be nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. It is your responsibility to ensure you do not contravene sanctions laws, including by obtaining your own legal advice.

Please direct any questions relating to the information contained in this presentation or Australia’s sanctions regimes more broadly to ASO.

The ASO is developing additional information sessions to explore some of the topics covered in the presentation in more detail. Keep an eye out on the Sanctions home page or sign up to the ASO’s mailing list for updates on these sessions.

Further information on having the ASO present at your events is available on the Outreach page.

Slide 1: Navigating Australian sanctions

  • Presented virtually on 29 April 2021
  • Disclaimer: The information in this document is a summary only of relevant sanctions laws. It is not intended to be nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. It is your responsibility to ensure you do not contravene sanctions laws, including by obtaining your own legal advice.

Slide 2: What are sanctions?

Measures not involving the use of armed force, aiming to:

  • Limit the adverse consequences of the situation of international concern
  • Influence those responsible for giving rise to the situation of international concern to modify their behaviour to remove the concern
  • Penalise those responsible for the situations of international concern

Slide 3: Current sanctions regimes

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Sanctions

  • Central African Republic
  • Counter-Terrorism
  • Democratic Republic of the
  • Congo
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Iraq
  • ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida
  • Lebanon
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • The Taliban
  • Yemen


  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
  • Iran
  • Libya
  • Syria

Australian Autonomous Sanctions

  • The Former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FFRY)
  • Myanmar
  • Russia/Ukraine
  • Zimbabwe

Slide 4: Types of sanctions measures

Different sanctions regimes impose different sanctions measures, including:

  • Restrictions on exporting or importing goods
  • Restrictions on commercial activities
  • Restrictions on providing services
  • Travel bans on persons
  • Restrictions on dealing with particular persons and entities

Slide 5: Sanctions suply

A sanctioned supply includes where a person supplies ‘export sanctioned goods' to a sanctioned country or part of a country.
The prohibition can extend to the indirect supply of ‘export sanctioned goods'.

The definition of ‘export sanctioned goods' can include:

  • arms or related materiel' (defined broadly) or ‘weapons or military equipment'
  • goods related to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
  • luxury goods
  • specified goods related to specific industries (for example, gas exploration)
  • specific technology

Slide 6: Arms or related matériel

‘Arms or related matériel' or ‘weapons or military equipment' covers a range of goods.

The three-step test can be used to determine whether goods meet these definitions.

Type of good

  • Step 1 - Does the good have intrinsic military utility?
    • If the goods are on Part One of the Defence and Strategic Goods, the answer is generally yes.
  • If the answer is ‘yes', the good is ‘arms or related matériel'. If the answer is ‘no' or ‘maybe', go to step 2.

End Use

  • Step 2 - Does the proposed or actual end use of the good have intrinsic military utility?
  • If the answer is ‘yes', the good is ‘arms or related matériel'. If the answer is ‘no', the good is not ‘arms or related matériel'. If the answer is ‘maybe', go to step 3. 

End User

  • Step 3 - Does the end user of the good indicate that the proposed or actual end use of the good would have intrinsic military utility?
  • If the answer is ‘yes', the good is ‘arms or related matériel'. If the answer is ‘no', the good is not ‘arms or related matériel'. If the answer is ‘maybe', DFAT will assess whether the good is ‘arms or related matériel' based on all the circumstances.

Many of these goods also require export permission from Defence Export Controls.

Slide 7: Sanctioned import

Some regimes include import restrictions.

A sanctioned import includes where a person imports, purchases, or transports ‘import sanctioned goods', and the goods:

  • are exported from the country or part of a country; or
  • originate in the country or part of a country (in some circumstances).

Some regimes target certain goods (e.g. ‘arms or related matériel').

Some regimes have very broad restrictions that capture all/many imports.

Slide 8: Sanctioned services

Some regimes prohibit the provision of certain services to the country subject to sanctions or people/businesses from that country.

A ‘sanctioned service' may include, but is not limited to:

  • technical assistance or training
  • financial assistance
  • a financial service
  • another service

If is assists with, or is provided in relation to:

  • a sanctioned supply
  • a military activity
  • the manufacture, maintenance or use of export sanctioned goods

Slide 9: Sanctioned commercial activity

Some regimes include restrictions on particular commercial activities.
United Nations sanctions

  • DPRK includes: certain forms of commercial activity which relate to the financial sector or joint ventures.
  • Iran includes: Nuclear technology or materials, including uranium mining, and technology or materials used in ballistic missiles.

Autonomous sanctions

  • Russia/Ukraine includes: certain engagement with specific Russian banks and entities.
  • Crimea and Sevastopol includes: granting loans/credit and joint ventures relating to certain industries.
  • Syria includes: predominantly in relation to the petrochemical and oil and gas industries and to the financial sector.

Slide 10: Listed persons or entities

Generally, a person is prohibited from directly or indirectly making an asset* available to, or for the benefit of, a ‘listed person or entity'.

* The definition of asset is very broad.

United Nations sanctions

  • Persons or entities designated by the UNSC or relevant United Nations committee.

Autonomous sanctions

  • Persons or entities that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is satisfied fulfil certain criteria for the relevant regime.

Counter-Terrorism sanctions regime

  • Persons or entities listed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs under Australia's Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 Counter-Terrorism (UNSC Resolution 1373) sanctions regime.

DFAT maintains a Consolidated List of all listed persons and entities in relation to all Australian sanctions. The Consolidated List is available on the DFAT website.

Slide 11: Using a 'controlled asset'

A 'controlled asset' is an asset that is owned or controlled by:

  • a ‘designated person or entity';
  • a person or entity acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, a ‘designated person or entity' (UN sanctions only); or
  • an entity owned or controlled by a ‘designated person or entity' (UN sanctions only).

A person who hold a ‘controlled asset' is prohibited from:

  • using or dealing with it, or
  • allowing or facilitating it to be used or dealt with.

If you are using or dealing with an asset that is a controlled asset, you must hold (or ‘freeze') the asset and inform the AFP as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: The above only relates to Australia's UN and autonomous sanctions regimes. Our Counter-Terrorism (UNSC 1373) sanctions regime has similar restrictions but the details vary. Please contact the ASO if you would like further detail on Counter-Terrorism sanctions restrictions. 

Slide 12: Sanctions permits

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, or in some circumstances her delegate, may grant a permit authorising an activity that would otherwise contravene a sanctions measure.

United Nations sanctions

  • The UNSC sets the criteria for granting a permit. This is included in our legislation.

Autonomous sanctions

  • Generally, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has discretion to grant a permit if satisfied the activity is in the national interest.

Counter-Terrorism sanctions regime

  • Generally, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has the discretion to grant a permit.

Slide 13: PAX – The new Australian sanctions portal

  • Single point of contact on sanctions
  • Simpler way to submit enquiries and applications
  • Better tracking of sanctions matters
  • Improved communication with the Australian Sanctions Office (ASO)

Slide 14: ASO assessment

  • The ASO conducts a thorough assessment of all information provided by you to determine whether activities would engage Australian sanctions laws.
  • Considerations include:
  • Are the goods subject to sanctions?
  • Will the goods be, or are they likely to be, supplied to persons or entities subject to targeted financial sanctions?
  • Will the relevant permit granting criteria be met?
  • Processing times vary depending on the complexity of the matter. Simple matters may be completed within 6-8 weeks of receiving all information.
  • The ASO may consult with other Government agencies, including intelligence partners, to gather information in support of our assessments.

Slide 15: Sanctions offences

Contravening a sanctions measure or a condition of a sanctions permit is a serious offence.


  • 10 years in prison and/or a fine the greater of $555,000 or three times value of transaction

Bodies Corporate

  • $2.22 million or three times the value of the transaction
  • *Strict liability but reasonable precautions and due diligence defence may apply

These offences apply:

  • to any activity in Australia; and
  • to any Australian anywhere in the world
  • to any person using an Australian flagged vessel or aircraft.
  • The ASO has the power to compel the production of documents or information for the purpose of determining whether an Australian sanctions law has been or is being complied with.

Slide 16: What do you need to do?

  • Explore the sanctions webpage
  • Get legal advice if necessary. The onus to comply with Australian sanction laws rests on you.
  • Consider sanctions when planning an activity.
  • If appropriate, apply for an Indicative Assessment or a Permit using Pax.
  • Advise the Australian Sanctions Office of possible breaches.
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