Frequently asked Questions

Q: What is the purpose of a regulation under the United Nations Act?

A: If the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) determines that an act of aggression or a threat to or breach of the peace has occurred, it may decide what measures member states shall take to restore or maintain international peace and security. Such a decision by the UNSC imposes a legal obligation on Canada, as a member of the United Nations, to implement the required measures in Canada. The United Nations Act (UNA) allows the Canadian government to make regulations to give legal effect to UNSC sanctions in Canada.

Q: What is the purpose of a regulation under the Special Economic Measures Act?

A: The Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) allows Canada to impose sanctions in the absence of a UNSC resolution. Either of the following triggers must be met:

  1. an international organization or association of states to which Canada belongs calls on its members to take economic measures against a foreign state, or
  2. a grave breach of international peace and security has occurred that has resulted or is likely to result in a serious international crisis.

Non-UN sanctions are imposed by making regulations under the SEMA. In order to maximize the effectiveness of sanctions measures, Canadian policy seeks to ensure, whenever possible, that sanctions are applied multilaterally, in concert with other like-minded countries.

Q. What Are “Listed”, “Named” or ‘”Designated” Persons?

A: It is common for sanctions regulations made under the UNA and the SEMA to prohibit or restrict dealings with certain individuals and/or entities. In such cases, the relevant sanctions regulation will refer to “listed,” “named” or “designated” persons. For more information on “Listed Persons” under the UNA and the SEMA, please see the “Listed Persons” webpage.

Q. Where can I find a complete list of Designated Persons or can you provide me with a complete list of people and companies with whom it is prohibited to do business?

A: The consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List, located on the United Nations website, provides a searchable list of all individuals and entities designated by the UNSC that are referred to in regulations made under the UNA. Not all prohibitions in the regulations will apply to every individual or entity. The applicable country regulation will specify what prohibitions apply to particular individuals or entities.

For individuals and entities listed under the SEMA, the list of designated persons specific to a particular regulation is published in a schedule to that regulation. Where a regulation includes more than one schedule of identified persons, the prohibitions may not apply to each schedule in the same way.

Q: Canada has sanctions on Country X. Does that mean I cannot do any business with that country?

A: It depends. Sanctions can impact Canadian businesses by:

  • Prohibiting all or specific types of trade and other economic activity with a foreign market,
  • Restricting financial transactions such as foreign investments or acquisitions, or
  • Resulting in the freezing or seizure of property situated in Canada.

These restrictions may apply to dealings with the entire country, with non-state actors, such as terrorist organizations, or with designated persons from that country. It is important to carefully review the regulations for each country before conducting business, to determine what prohibitions apply to that particular country. When in doubt, a lawyer should be contacted to assist in interpreting regulations.

Q: How do I get a permit or certificate to do “X”, which I think may not be permitted under Canadian sanctions?

A: Once it is confirmed that an activity or transaction is prohibited, an application may be submitted to DFATD for a permit or certificate. Information on how to apply and what documents are required to complete an application is available on our “Permits and Certificates” page.

Q: Can I report an individual or a company for breaching sanctions?

A: Mandatory or voluntary disclosures of violations of sanctions can be made to the RCMP using the following contact information:

By fax to the Federal Policing Intake Unit at 613-825-7030.

By mail to:

Federal Policing Operations - Intake Unit
73 Leiken Drive
Ottawa, ON
Canada K1A 0R2

Q: Can I export my goods to Russia or do business with “X” Russian Company?

A: Canada’s sanctions against Russia are targeted in nature. At present there is no blanket ban on exports to Russia. However, on December 19, 2014, the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations (the “SEMA Russia Regulations”) were amended to include prohibitions on the sale, supply, shipment or export of goods to Russia or any person in Russia of any goods listed in Schedule 4 of the regulations for use in (a) offshore oil exploration or production at a depth greater than 500m; (b) oil exploration or production in the Arctic; or (c) shale oil exploration or production, or any financial, technical or other services related to such goods. The SEMA Russia Regulations also prohibit dealings with certain designated persons and financial prohibitions relating to the financial and defence sectors. For more information on sanctions measures targeting Russia, please visit our “Canadian Sanctions Related to Russia” page.

Q: Can I export “X” product to Iran?

A: A: Canada has a number of sanctions in place against Iran that could impact business transactions with that country or any person in that country. Canada's Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on Iran (the Iran UN Regulations) contain restrictions on activities pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s development of nuclear weapon delivery systems and ballistic missile program, Iran’s acquisition and/or facilitation of the use of certain heavy arms and military equipment and restrictions on the procurement of arms and related material from Iran by any person in Canada. They also prohibit dealing in the property of persons designated by the UNSC or providing designated persons with any goods or services.

The Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations (the Iran SEMA Regulations) prohibit any dealings with individuals and entities listed in Schedule 1 of the Iran SEMA Regulations, and prohibit the export to Iran of certain products listed in Schedule 2 of the Iran SEMA Regulations. The export prohibitions are subject to certain exceptions that are set out in s.8.1 of the regulations.

Under the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Permit Authorization Order, the Minister of Foreign Affairs may issue a permit to allow a transaction that would otherwise be prohibited under the Iran SEMA Regulations. These permits are issued on a case-by-case basis, at the Minister's discretion. More information on how to apply for a permit is available on our “Permits and Certificates” page.

There are also provisions in the Criminal Code, which prohibit certain dealings with listed entities. Canadian companies will need to look closely at their legal obligations and do careful due diligence about prospective partners, customers or suppliers in Iran to ensure that they are not dealing with the Qods Force, which is a listed entity.

Canadian companies will need to approach the Iranian market cautiously and guided by the advice of their legal counsel.

Q: Can I import goods from Iran?

A: The broad prohibitions on the import of goods from Iran under the Iran SEMA Regulations were lifted on February 5, 2016. However, the Iran UN Regulations contain restrictions on the procurement of arms and related material from Iran including the shipment of arms and related material, wherever situated, which was acquired from Iran or any person in Iran. The Iran UN Regulations and the Iran SEMA Regulations also prohibit any dealings in property involving designated persons.