Sending Funds to Iran in the Currency Crisis

The drastic fall these two weeks of the Iranian Rial’s value versus the U.S. Dollar and other hard currencies may be prompting some Iranian expatriates to consider what they can do to help family in their home country.

Sending money to Iran is surprisingly less difficult under U.S. law than one may think. Granted there are limitations on investing there and importing most goods from Iran, but non-commercial, family remittances (e.g., sending financial gifts or support to parents or spouses in Iran). As with receiving funds from Iran, certain safeguards that should be followed.

1. Money must be genuinely non-commercial and personal. In other words, you cannot invest in businesses (even family businesses) in Iran. Funds sent there must be genuine gifts or funds for your personal use while in Iran. Therefore, no loans, no investment made on your behalf, etc.

2. Money must go through a third country. This is to be expected, since no U.S. bank can directly wire funds to Iran. But beyond that, giving money to exchange brokers or “hawalah-dars” in the United States who can have their cousin, friend, associate give a reciprocal amount of Iranian currency in Iran is dangerous and can make you the subject of an OFAC Administrative Subpoena (where they can ask you all kinds of questions about your dealings, if any, with Iran). The funds should leave the U.S. through a bank wire initiated by you.  Therefore, it is best to send the money to a third country like Turkey or the UAE first then have the money sent to Iran.

3. Inform your financial institution. Typically one would be well-advised to inform his or her bank about the transactions. Banks may wonder why you are sending so many foreign wires. Therefore, providing the right documentation to your bank, while not required by law, is critical to help prevent issues.  Maintaining adequate records is also highly advisable.

Provided one takes the necessary precautions, sending family remittances to Iran can be done in a legal, effective way.

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