Treasury Notes

 OFAC Launches New SDN Search Tool

By: James Kostiw

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today launched a new and improved tool for searching its Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN).  The SDN List is a compilation of entities and individuals that have been targeted under one or more of Treasury’s sanctions programs.  Inclusion on the SDN List generally prohibits U.S. banks from maintaining accounts for those listed and U.S. persons could face civil or criminal penalties for engaging in business dealing with them.  Today’s update to the SDN Search will significantly improve the accessibility for those trying to access information about individuals or entities that are subject to U.S. sanctions.

The new version of SDN Search provides users with much greater leeway when searching for names for the tool no longer returns only exact matches.  SDN Search now makes use of multiple algorithms to provide the user with a broader set of results.  This gives SDN Search the ability to account for differences in spelling and transliteration.  OFAC is offering this upgraded search tool free to the public to give users of the SDN List an improved search experience that will help them meet their compliance obligations.  Users, such as financial institutions, businesses or even private individuals, can now benefit from easier and more flexible access to the list data.  OFAC hopes this upgraded search tool will be particularly useful for medium-sized to small companies and individuals with fewer resources to expend on compliance.

The SDN Search tool was first released to the public in December of 2011.  This upgraded version of SDN Search, previously available as a beta release, replaces the earlier version.  As with the previous version, SDN Search is completely web-based and offers users the ability to print their results or save them as a spreadsheet.   OFAC received and reviewed feedback from the public on its new search tool.  Many users requested the ability to leverage SDN Search in an enterprise setting.  OFAC is currently researching options as to how to make the capabilities of SDN Search available for integration into external business systems.

Please see the related FAQs for additional information on algorithms, scoring, and other technical details.  Feedback and suggestions about SDN Search can be provided at the following e-mail address: 

SDN Search is available at

James Kostiw is a Senior Advisor at the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the U.S. Department of the Treasury.​ 

Posted in:  Office of Foreign Assets Control
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