Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs)


Who are Specially Designated Nationals or ‘SDNs’? 

The Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List or ‘SDN List’ is a list of individuals or legal entities that is identified by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as being terrorists, international criminals or beneficiaries of authoritarian regimes such as Iran and North Korea that are under sanctions. 

There are tens of thousands of organizations, companies and individuals on the SDN List that are identified by the U.S. as being a threat to national security. 

In light of rising tensions between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, the SDN List has grown to encompass more Chinese citizens and even some politicians of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party. 

The OFAC Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List is available at the United States’ Treasury website here.

What penalties can be incurred to an entity doing business with an entity on the SDN List?

Under the Patriot Act, it is prohibited under U.S. law for U.S. citizens and legal entities to conduct business with those on the list – SDNs – under threat of finding themselves under sanctions.

Why should my business comply with the SDN List?

Even if an organization does not conduct business in the U.S., with U.S. companies or individuals, it is imperative to comply, as often, that organization will be doing business with other organizations that are. Thus, continued failure to comply with the OFAC Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List will most likely result in far smaller client bases of organizations.

How often is the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List updated?

The SDN List is updated regularly, however, there is not a set updating schedule. As such, an update can come at any time and firms must have screening processes and systems to stay in compliance. 

In addition, some names can be removed from the SDN List subject to investigations’ outcomes or for being in compliance.