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937. What does the general license (GL) at § 542.516  of the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (SySR), as amended on November 26, 2021, authorize with respect to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)?    


The GL at § 542.516 of the SySR continues to authorize, subject to certain limitations, NGOs to engage in certain transactions and activities that would otherwise be prohibited in support of the following not-for-profit activities in Syria:

  • Humanitarian projects that meet basic human needs;
  • Democracy-building;
  • Education;
  • Non-commercial development projects directly benefitting the Syrian people; and
  • The preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites.

The transactions and activities that NGOs are authorized to engage in include:

  • Transactions with persons who meet the definition of the term Government of Syria, as defined in § 542.305(a) (i.e., the state and the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Syria), that would otherwise be prohibited by § 542.201(a)(1); 
  • New investment (i.e., a transaction that constitutes a commitment or contribution of funds or other assets, or a loan or other extension of credit) in Syria that would otherwise be prohibited by § 542.206;
  • Exportation or reexportation of services that would otherwise be prohibited by § 542.207; and
  • Purchase of refined petroleum products of Syrian origin for use in Syria that would otherwise be prohibited by § 542.209.

Early-recovery-related transactions and activities that fall within the categories of transactions and activities listed above are authorized.  For transactions and activities not otherwise authorized or exempt from sanctions, OFAC considers license requests on a case-by-case basis.

Additionally, this GL authorizes U.S. financial institutions to process transfers of funds in support of the authorized transactions and activities outlined above. U.S. depository institutions, U.S. registered brokers or dealers in securities, and U.S. registered money transmitters may rely on the statements of their customers that such transactions are authorized unless they know or have reason to know a transaction is not authorized. U.S. depository institutions, U.S. registered brokers or dealers in securities, and U.S. registered money transmitters are expected to conduct a level of due diligence commensurate with its overall risk profile and internal compliance policies and procedures with respect to a transaction involving Syria.

Separately, non-U.S. persons, including NGOs and foreign financial institutions, do not risk exposure to U.S. secondary sanctions pursuant to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 for engaging in or facilitating transactions and activities that are otherwise authorized or exempt for U.S. persons under the SySR.  Please see FAQ 884 for additional information.

Please note that this guidance does not apply to transactions and activities that may be subject to sanctions under other sanctions programs administered by OFAC (e.g., transactions with persons blocked under OFAC’s counterterrorism authority (E.O. 13224, as amended) or OFAC’s Syria-related authority (E.O. 13894)), unless exempt or otherwise authorized by OFAC.

Date Updated: August 8, 2023

Date Released
November 24, 2021