OFAC Updates General License Regarding Personal Communications Equipment, Software, and Services for Iran
February 25, 2014

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued an updated general license this month permitting a wider array of activities related to personal communications in Iran.  General License D-1, which updates and replaces General License D, exempts certain activities related to the export to, transfer within, and import from Iran of certain personal communications items that would otherwise be prohibited under the Iran Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR, 31 C.F.R. 560).  The expansion of authorized activities under the General License is part of a wider U.S. policy to encourage freedom of expression in Iran since the popular uprisings in that country in 2009 and 2010. 

Under General License D, U.S. persons and companies could export certain services, software, and equipment to Iran used for personal communication.  Generally, eligible items included products classified at a low level under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR, 15 C.F.R. 730 – 774) or those specified in the Annex to the General License.  General License D also authorized the provision of certain consumer-grade internet connectivity services to Iran and announced more favorable licensing treatment for transactions involving communications items not specifically authorized under the General License.

The new General License D-1 expands on this framework by authorizing the export and transfer of eligible items by non-U.S. persons; making non-U.S. origin items eligible for the General License; permitting certain imports into the U.S. of eligible items previously exported to Iran; and permitting exports of certain services and publicly available software to the Government of Iran where there is no cost to the end user.

General License D-1 does not permit transactions or dealings with certain blocked entities, activities barred by the EAR, or commercial grade exports, including those related to internet connectivity services, telecommunications transmission facilities, web-hosting services for commercial endeavors, or domain name registration services.