Find a way to get around sanctions and send money to family or friends in Iran.
It’s thought that there are between one and 2 million Iranian Americans in the United States today, with the largest concentration found in Los Angeles. Many of those people still retain strong links with their homeland, including voting in democratic elections in Iran.
But because of the US-led international sanctions imposed on Iran, sending money from the USA to Iran can be a very tricky business.
Sanctions and Iran
US sanctions have been in place against Iran for decades, and they have significant implications for anyone who wants to have financial dealings with Iran. According to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, “New investments by U.S. persons, including commitments of funds or other assets, loans or any other extensions of credit, in Iran or in property (including entities) owned or controlled by the Government of Iran are prohibited.”
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 publicised cases of people unwittingly falling foul of the law. Obtaining advice from the Office of Foreign Assets Control before sending a transfer is recommended.Back to top
What are the options?
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.
Another option could be to send Bitcoins. This electronic currency is accepted for use in Iran and can be converted into Iranian Rial. Bitcoin does not have any central monetary authority and it is based on a peer-to-peer computer network. You can send Bitcoins to other users across the Internet if you have the appropriate software installed, but there are also several exchanges that allow you to trade it for regular currency.
However, the legal implications of sending Bitcoins to Iran are unclear. Once again, the last thing you want to do is get yourself in trouble with the authorities, so obtaining legal advice or an advisory from the Office of Foreign Assets Control is essential before going any further.