Find the best option for sending money to Iran
Here's what you need to know when it comes to sending money to Iran.
There are an estimated 86,000 Iranians in the UK, several of them in high-paid jobs. The vast majority arrived in the UK after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Unfortunately, world politics have stood in the way of connecting those expats with family and friends at home, as Iran remains heavily sanctioned.
Sanctions and Iran
As an active member of the United Nations, the United Kingdom abided by sanctions implemented against Iran, which prohibited many types of financial transactions between the two countries. This included private money transfers from the UK to Iran.
In July 2015, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and USA and Iran reached a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. This concluded over a decade of negotiations between the international community and Iran and culminated in the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPoA), otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. Through the successful implementation of this deal, if Iran could demonstrate its commitment to an exclusively peaceful nuclear programme, most financial and economic sanctions against Iran would be lifted. The goal was for the International Atomic Energy Agency to verify that Iran had completed all necessary steps by Implementation Day, 16 January 2016.
Can I send money to Iran?
Prior to the lifting of sanctions in January 2016, transfer of funds between Iran and the UK was not illegal but required approval from HM Treasury depending on the purpose and value of transfer. However, authorisations were routinely granted and individuals were not unreasonably denied permission.
Because of the complications that arose with trading with Iran over the past few years, there are no UK registered money exchange companies that service Iran. Therefore, Iranians are forced to use Iranian money exchange companies which do not have a UK bank account. Therefore, they operate by receiving Rials in Iran into their Iranian bank accounts, then directing buyers outside of Iran to deposit pounds into the intended recipient’s account.
This is how third party and cash deposits are made into bank accounts in the UK, which lead to suspicions of money laundering connections with Iran.
What is money laundering?
Money laundering is any activity in which funds are illegally obtained, then their source or destination is concealed. Money laundering, along with tax evasion, are illegal under English law. The specific laws about what constitutes money laundering and its prosecution may differ. However, if convicted of money laundering crimes, you may face years in prison and significant fines.
What other options do I have?
One option, though a risky one, is 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 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.
If in doubt as to whether you can send money to a sanctioned country, always assume that transferring funds from the UK to a sanctioned nation is illegal unless a lawyer tells you otherwise.
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