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Can I send money to someone in Iran?

Is there a way to get around sanctions to send money to loved ones?

The US has the discretion to grant you special permission to send money to family members in countries like Iran. You must be able to prove that your funds are not for commercial purposes, and how much you send could be limited. Refer to the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations for more information.

Sanctions and Iran

The US sanctioned Iran after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, further expanding economic sanctions when Iran refused to give up its uranium enrichment program for nuclear weapons. The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control severely limits US citizens from committing funds or other financial assets in Iran.

However, U.S. depository institutions are allowed to handle funds transfers, through intermediary third-country banks, to or from Iran noncommercial family remittances and travel-related remittances, among others. But add to this the fact that people in the US are prohibited from dealing with some specific Iranian banks due to their links with financing terrorism and it quickly becomes apparent that sending funds to Iran is very difficult.

Most US banks will not handle a transfer to Iran for you, and popular money transfer providers like Western Union and MoneyGram don’t offer their services to Iran. Even if you can find a money transfer willing to help you send money to Iran you will then need to be very careful about the purpose of the transfer.

There are several complex rules and regulations surrounding money transfers to Iran and there have been some highly publicized cases of people unwittingly falling foul of the law. Obtaining advice from the Office of Foreign Assets Control before sending a transfer is recommended.

Can I send money to someone in a country with sanctions?

Must read: Section 560.550 Certain noncommercial, personal remittances to or from Iran authorized

According to the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations by the US Treasury:
“(a) In cases in which the transfer involves a noncommercial, personal remittance, the transfer of funds to or from Iran or for or on behalf of an individual ordinarily resident in Iran, other than an individual whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 560.211, is authorized, provided that the transfer is processed by a United States depository institution or a United States registered broker or dealer in securities and not by any other U.S. person; does not involve debiting or crediting an Iranian account; and is not by, to, or through the Government of Iran, as defined in § 560.304.

(b) Noncommercial, personal remittances do not include charitable donations to or for the benefit of an entity or funds transfers for use in supporting or operating a business, including a family-owned enterprise.”

This means that for the average sender, getting permission to send money to Iran is going to be difficult, but not impossible. By consulting legal help, it is possible to appeal to the US Treasury and get permission to send remittances to family and loved onan — just be prepared for a potentially lengthy process.

Sending money to sanctioned countries — and the potential consequences

There are ways that people have chosen to get around these economic sanctions. But we stress that doing so is illegal and exposes you to severe legal and financial penalties. If you choose to route your money through a country that doesn’t have sanctions against your intended destination — the UK, for example — you could be charged by the US with money laundering.

What is money laundering?

Money laundering is any activity that illegally obtains money and attempts to conceal the source, destination or identity of those funds. In the US, money laundering is illegal under federal and state laws. The specific laws about what constitutes money laundering and its prosecution may differ. However, if you’re convicted of money laundering crimes, you face years in prison and significant fines.

One option for sending money to Iran commonly touted on online forums is to first send your money to a friend or relative in the UK, from where it can then be sent on to your beneficiary in Iran (transfers between the UK and Iran are allowed but restricted).

But this option is definitely not recommended as it raises the possibility of money laundering, and depending on where you live it may even be illegal. If you hold a bank account in another country as a resident of that nation, research the rules in place for sending money to a sanctioned nation from that account.

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Foreign exchange rates explained

The exchange rate determines how much one country’s currency is worth in another currency. When a country’s currency is strong, it yields more money when exchanging it in a country with a weak currency.

However, most countries’ exchange rates are flexible, which means they can fluctuate with the market. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.

When in doubt

If you’re in doubt as to whether you can send money to a sanctioned country, always assume that transferring funds from the US to a sanctioned nation is illegal unless a lawyer tells you otherwise. As the US Treasury advises, “You cannot do something indirectly that you would not be able to do directly.” For more information about sending money to Iran, look into your state’s laws on money laundering, the US Treasury’s updated list of sanctioned nations and the laws that dictate where your bank can make transfers.

Frequently asked questions

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29 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    ConfusedAugust 16, 2019

    Hey, is there any legal way to transfer money from Tehran to Sweden?

      BellaAugust 18, 2019Finder

      Hi Confused,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      In the most legal way, bank to bank transfer should be the first option to send or transfer money from Tehran to Sweden. However, please note of the significant cost or fees associated with the transfer, not mentioning also the mark-up on currency exchange rates. While we can’t suggest or recommend a specific service, for sure there are also trusted and regulated companies in Tehran that provide excellent service and help you save. Best to compare your bank’s rates to these trusted peer-to-peer money transfer services before sending.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

    Default Gravatar
    MatthewJune 25, 2019

    I can send money from Nigeria to iran

      fayemanuelJune 26, 2019Finder

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for contacting Finder.

      Unfortunately due to the restrictions in place, it is very difficult to send money to Iran. Well-established money transfer services such as Western Union and Moneygram don’t have a presence in Iran.

      You may want to speak with your bank about your options, though expensive fees are likely to apply.

      Hope this helps.

      Please feel free to contact us at any time if any other questions arise.

      All the best,

      Best Regards,

    Default Gravatar
    JoveDecember 22, 2018

    how can send money from Iran to the Philippines?

      JoshuaDecember 22, 2018Finder

      Hi Jove,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      You can send money from Iran to the Philippines by finding authorized exchange offices. Moreover, if ever you choose to send money online, be sure that you are using a legitimate company. Finally, you can also check with banks and see if they do money transfer.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    TeeNovember 29, 2018

    Please how can my brother send me money from Iran to nigeria

      Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoDecember 6, 2018

      Hi Tee,

      Thanks for getting in touch! We don’t have a comparison page that lists brands that allows you to send money from Iran to Nigeria. The companies listed above are available to people in the US only. You might want to check the money service providers available in Iran.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help to you at this time. Feel free to reach out again should you need further assistance.


    Default Gravatar
    MaxOctober 8, 2018

    Can you receive money from Iran to USA through Western union or moneygram, or any through bank transfer

      Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoOctober 8, 2018

      Hi Max,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      As of this time, Western Union or Moneygram do not offer their service to Iran. You may check other banks or money transfer services in Iran that will allow you to transfer money to the US.

      Hope this clarifies! Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.


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