Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.
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.
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.Back to top
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
More guides on Finder
WorldRemit gearing up to acquire Sendwave
Money transfer provider Sendwave may soon be acquired by WorldRemit. Here’s what we know so far.
Sending money internationally during the coronavirus pandemic
Learn about how COVID-19 may affect the ways you transfer cash around the world.
Sending money to Mexico during the coronavirus
Learn how COVID-19 may affect how you transfer cash across the border.
WorldRemit users can now transfer money to anyone with Alipay
New partnership cuts out the need to have money picked up at an agent location by connecting app to app.
How to send money from a cruise ship
Western Union, OFX and PayPal can all help you transfer funds at sea.
Unimoni offers fast transfers at competitive rates, but it isn’t available to US senders. Learn how it works and what alternatives are available to you.
Tax guidelines and regulations for large money transfers into Colombia
Transferring large sums into Colombia can come with more paperwork and potential taxes than other countries.
How to find a Walmart money transfer location
Learn how to find a Walmart location to pick up or transfer cash.
Find a MoneyGram location
Send or pick up cash from over 350,000 locations in 200 countries around the globe.
Tax guidelines and regulations for large money transfers into Nigeria
What tax laws apply to you and your recipient when transferring large sums to Nigeria.
Ask an Expert