Iran has been sanctioned by various entities over the last several decades. The United States imposed sanctions on Iran in 1979, following the Iranian revolution, and expanded them in 1995 to prohibit firms from doing business with the Iranian government. The UN also sanctioned Iran in 2006, when the Iranian government refused to suspend its uranium enrichment program. The EU placed additional sanctions on Iran in 2007 in response to concerns over Iran’s nuclear program and human rights violations in the country. These various sanctions targeted various aspects of Iranian commercial and public life, including bans on investments in oil, gas and petrochemicals, exports of refined petroleum products, and business dealings with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This latter category included banking and insurance transactions (including with the Central Bank of Iran), shipping, and digital services.
On April 2nd, 2015, the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council nations plus Germany) reached a provisional agreement with Iran on a framework that would lift the majority of sanctions against in return for various limits on Iran’s nuclear programs that are to last for at least 10 years. As a result, most sanctions against Iran were lifted in early 2016. This means that investors and entrepreneurs will now find it much easier to do business in Iran and that Iran can begin to re-engage with the global financial system. Certain sanctions remain in place, however, so it is still important to conduct proper research and receive appropriate legal advice before considering doing business in Iran or with Iranian entities.
Following criticisms of a deal being one-sided after sanctions were lifted the USA withdrew from a nuclear agreement with Iran in May 2018. Later that year in November the USA brought new sanctions into force to pressure Iran to change policy in the Middle East and halt its ballistic missle development.
For the most up-to-date information on Iran sanctions, it is best to visit regulators’ websites. Relevant pages for OFAC, HM Treasury, and EU sanctions are listed below: