<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://px.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=5835994&amp;fmt=gif">
Skip to content

Are you based in Latin America and interested in learning about OFAC’s general licenses?

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is responsible for managing and enforcing the U.S. sanctions programs. OFAC general licenses allow certain types of transactions otherwise prohibited under U.S. sanctions regulations. They provide a streamlined way to permit activities that are consistent with U.S. policy without requiring individuals or entities to apply for specific licenses, which are issued on a case-by-case basis in response to a written license application submitted to OFAC. To learn about how OFAC sanctions apply in the region, you can read Brown Rudnick’s article on that topic by clicking here.

General licenses vary depending on the sanctions program they relate to, and typically address:

  • Humanitarian aid: General licenses often allow for the provision of humanitarian aid, such as food, medication, and medical supplies, to sanctioned countries or regions. 
  • Personal remittances: Some general licenses permit personal remittances to be sent to and from individuals in sanctioned countries to help support families.
  • Educational and cultural exchanges: Certain general licenses authorize educational and cultural exchanges, such as participation in academic programs, conferences, and cultural activities.
  • Telecommunications and internet services: General licenses may allow for the provision of telecommunications and internet services to sanctioned countries, so as to promote widespread access to information and communication.
  • Financial transactions: Some general licenses allow specific types of financial transactions, such as those involving international organizations, diplomatic missions, or certain commercial activities that are aligned with U.S. policy.
  • Travel: Several general licenses authorize U.S. persons to engage in certain types of travel to sanctioned countries, such as family visits, professional research, or participation in qualified events. 

Examples of general licenses issued by OFAC involving Latin American countries include:

  1. Cuba: 
  • General License 1 authorizes certain transactions related to the export of telecommunications equipment and services to Cuba.
  • General License 8 involves the provision of internet-based services to Cuban users.
  1. Nicaragua: 
  • General License 1 authorizes certain transactions related to the export of agricultural commodities, medication, and medical devices.
  • General License 4 authorizes transactions related to the provision of services, software, and hardware incident to the exchange of communications over the internet.
  1. Venezuela:  
  • General License 3I and 9H removed the secondary trading ban on certain Venezuelan sovereign bonds and PdVSA debt and equity. These general licenses allow U.S. persons to engage in previously prohibited financial transactions involving these securities under specified conditions.
  • General License 44A replaced the earlier General License 44, which authorized certain activities involving Venezuela’s oil and gas sector. While this license does not authorize business activities, it is primarily intended to provide a structured process for ending previously authorized transactions in a compliant manner and, for any activities related to Venezuela’s oil and gas sector going forward, interested entities are required to apply for a specific license from OFAC.

Some key features of OFAC general licenses include:

  • Automatic: General licenses automatically authorize specific types of transactions or activities without requiring individuals or entities to apply for and obtain a specific license from OFAC.
  • Scope: Each general license outlines the relevant permitted activities, any limitations or conditions that must be met to benefit from the general license, and the regulatory framework within which the relevant license operates.
  • Regulatory basis: General licenses are issued under the authority of various U.S. sanctions programs, and once issued, they are integrated into the relevant sanctions regulations. To learn about the advantages of having a compliance manual that conforms to U.S. law, you can read Brown Rudnick’s article on that topic by clicking here.

If you want to learn whether your personal or business goals meet the requirements of a general license issued by OFAC, or whether you require a specific license to accomplish your goals, let us know. Our team of international lawyers, many of whom are also admitted to practice law in Latin American countries, can help create a tailor-made strategy to ensure compliance with OFAC regulations.