OFAC Compliance

Blacklisted: Four Reasons Why Every Exporter Needs OFAC Screening

Congratulations – you’ve found a new prospective sales deal or you’re ready to ship your product! However there’s a critical step you need to take before you follow-up on that deal or send those goods out the door. OFAC screening is a key part of every company’s export process, and here are a few reasons why.

  1. OFAC screening applies to every export, even goods or services that wouldn’t normally require an export license.

OFAC screening refers to the screening against ‘government blacklists’ people, companies and countries that you are exporting to – no matter what you happen to be sending. If you’re dealing with military or dual-use products, you understand the sensitivity of these items and the need for export compliance. But OFAC lists apply to all exports, no matter how innocuous, even those that wouldn’t normally require a license. Everything, including the proverbial kitchen sink, is covered.


  1. OFAC lists change constantly.

OFAC screening goes on forever! There are many lists – Denied Persons, Unverified, Debarred, Sanctions Evaders, and so on – and they are continuously being updated by US government departments (State, Treasury, Commerce, CIA, and FBI, to name a few) as well as international bodies such as the United Nations, European Union, central banks, and law enforcement organizations including Interpol. The export control landscape is shifting day by day, and a one-time check of a potential customer is only the beginning of ensuring compliance.


  1. You might be supporting some vile operations.

While you might be doing export compliance because the government says you have to – remember the idea behind it. While a whole range of political, economic, and security motivations are behind building these lists, there are some truly vile operations out there: terrorists, traffickers, criminal fronts, and nuclear proliferators. Think of them as a menu of who you’d rather not have as a customer.


  1. Hefty penalties are in store for OFAC compliance violators.

The penalties for shipping or selling to a designated party are enough to make any company gag. Your business can be broken with fines and loss of export privileges, and in the most extreme cases you might even be spending some time behind bars.


If it’s found that you have done business with a designated party, you’ll have some explaining to do to one or more very annoyed government agencies. “I didn’t know” is not a phrase that mollifies them.

With a comprehensive OFAC screening program, you can quickly and reliably block or clear potential customers. Besides saving you a boatload of trouble, this can also make your export business more efficient. Rather than scrambling to respond to incidents on a case-by-case basis, you can keep your customers happy with smooth and timely shipments while keeping your compliance costs low.

Before you ship, make sure you’ve screened against the blacklists – or your business might end up on one of them.