Aviation sanctions

Countries use economic sanctions to try and influence other states. The penalties for breaking them can be severe including significant fines ranging from a few thousand dollars to billions or up to 30 years in jail.

Sanctions can be issued by individual government agencies or inter-government organisations like the EU or the United Nations. You do not necessarily need to be based in that country to be affected by sanctions. As aviation is a dollar dominated industry non-US companies should also be aware of US restrictions.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is a key US agency and considers aviation a high-risk industry. Individual aircraft can be sanctioned as well as people and organisations.

“Both U.S. and non-U.S. persons operating in the civil aviation industry face potential civil and criminal consequences for violating OFAC’s sanctions programs.”
US Office of Foreign Assets Control, June 2019

Semaphore Intel updates the following sanctions lists every 15 minutes:

United Nations


European Union







This enforcement action highlights the importance of companies operating in high-risk industries to implement effective, thorough and on-going, risk-based compliance measures, especially when engaging in transactions concerning the aviation industry…

Participants in the civil aviation industry should be aware that other jurisdictions subject to OFAC sanctions may engage in similar deceptive practices.

This action also highlights the importance of companies operating internationally to implement Know You Customer screening procedures and implement compliance measures that extend beyond the point-of-sale and function throughout the entire business or lease period.

OFAC statement 2019