As part of an effort to better assist compliance and screening programs and create a global sanctions list, the Treasury Department this week announced a new format for its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control’s new sanctions list format was developed with the United Nations and the Wolfsberg Group of International Banks. The stated goal is to “create a universal sanctions list format that can be efficiently used by governments worldwide.” Companies will have both additional information to work with and the ability to customize their watchlists. Some of the new capabilities include:

New metadata that includes specific labels that go beyond the standard, “Last name, First name” style of current sanctions lists. The advanced format now allows for unique name parts to be used, labeled and properly ordered based on the nomenclature rules of a specific culture, language, or region.

The format supports language scripts beyond the standard Latin script used in many sanctions lists.  It is now possible for sanctions targets to be provided to users in their original script (e.g., Arabic) and other non-Latin script translations. The Treasury Department will provide a Latin script translation for all listed, non-Latin script sanctions targets.

The format provides a data dictionary of all valid look-up values in the header of the file. Including a data dictionary with the underlying data makes it easier for list users to construct databases that contain identifiers and other information that match the data in OFAC’s systems. When new look-up values are introduced to a sanctions list, this data dictionary is automatically updated.

The format introduces a flexible, “feature identifier” functionality that augments the normal identification look-up values that are currently available in the SDN List formats. Historically, the “remarks field” in the Treasury SDN list’s data format had been used for information that did not easily fit into existing fields and identifier categories. 

The new XML file will not replace the existing SDN.xml file which will remain in production. OFAC plans to continue to support all of its current data offerings even after the new XML standard goes into production. This includes the continual support of its legacy files for the foreseeable future.

 Additional information on the new format can be found here.