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Sanctions List Search Tool

As of June 9, 2014, OFAC’s SDN Search tool has been renamed Sanctions List Search.  The improved search tool employs fuzzy logic on its name search field to look for potential matches on both the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List and the Foreign Sanctions Evaders (FSE) List.

Sanctions List Search

More information on this new tool can be found in the frequently asked questions provided below.

1)      How does Sanctions List Search work?

In addition to returning results that are exact matches (when the match threshold slider bar is set to 100%), Sanctions List Search can also provide a broader set of results using fuzzy logic. This logic uses character and string matching as well as phonetic matching. Only the name field of Sanctions List Search invokes fuzzy logic when the tool is run. The other fields on the tool use character matching logic.  Please click here for more information on what a true SDN or FSE match is.
2)      What does the Sanctions List Search Score mean?

The score field indicates the similarity between the name entered and resulting matches on the SDN and/or FSE Lists. It is calculated using two matching logic algorithms: one based upon phonetics, and a second based upon the similarity of the characters in the two strings. A score of 100 indicates an exact match, while lower scores indicate potential matches.
3)      How do I use the Minimum Name Score field and score slider bar?

The minimum name score field limits the number of names returned by the search. A value of 100 will return only names that exactly match the characters entered into the name field. A value of 50 will return all names that are deemed to be 50% similar based upon the matching logic of the search tool. By lowering the match threshold the system will return a broader result set.
4)      How is the Score calculated?

Sanctions List search uses two matching logic algorithms, and two matching logic techniques to calculate the score. The two algorithms are Jaro-Winkler, a string difference algorithm, and Soundex, a phonetic algorithm. The first technique involves using the Jaro-Winkler algorithm to compare the entire name string entered against full name strings of SDN and FSE entries. The second technique involves splitting the name string entered into multiple name parts (for example, John Doe would be split into two name parts). Each name part is then compared to name parts on the SDN and FSE lists using the Jaro-Winkler and Soundex algorithms. The search calculates a score for each name part entered, and a composite score for all name parts entered. Sanctions List Search uses both techniques each time the search is run, and returns the higher of the two scores in the Score column.
5)      Does OFAC recommend a specific match threshold score?

OFAC cannot make such a recommendation because each search has its own unique set of facts surrounding it. Users of Sanctions List Search must make their own match threshold determinations based upon their own internal risk assessments and established compliance practices.
6)      What fields influence the score?

Only the name field influences the score.
7)      What fields use fuzzy logic?

Only the name field uses the fuzzy searching logic. 
8)      When conducting a search using the ID field, does Sanctions List Search account for variations in non-alphanumeric characters?

At present, Sanctions List Search’s ID field uses exact character matching to provide users with a result. In order to receive the broadest number of results, users should conduct ID field searches both with and without any non-alphanumeric characters. An upcoming update to Sanctions List Search will allow for searching of the ID field regardless of whether or not non-alphanumeric characters are included.     
9)      Who may use Sanctions List Search? Can we configure our automated system to utilize Sanctions List Search on a continual basis?

Sanctions List Search is a free tool provided by OFAC to assist the public in complying with sanctions programs. It is intended to be used by individual users that are looking for potential matches on the SDN and FSE list. It should not be utilized by automated systems that are configured to continually run searches through the tool. For a copy of files that can be easily interpreted by automated systems and software programs, please see the list of XML, CSV, PIP, DEL, and FF files on the SDN and FSE pages
10)  Does Sanctions List Search look for potential matches on all of the various sanctions lists that OFAC has published on its website?

Sanctions List Search will look for and return potential matches from the SDN and FSE Lists only. The user can look under the List column to see which list(s) a potential match is on.     


Last Updated: 6/9/2014 12:22 PM