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Frequently asked questions about Sanctions List Distribution

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Which organisations will benefit most from Sanctions List Distribution? How will it help?

For cost reasons, smaller institutions often source public sanctions lists directly from official websites. Scanning for changes is time-consuming work and lists may also require reformatting before use in a filter, which can lead to errors and delays in list implementation.

SWIFT’s Sanctions List Distribution will help smaller banks and corporates enhance transaction and name-screening effectiveness by providing a single source of automatically updated, structured and standardised, sanctions list data  in a filter-readable format. The service will include audit logs to document which lists were downloaded and implemented.

Individuals/teams in a banks’ sanctions compliance departments, in corporate treasuries or in import/export control functions will find the service of value.

Why is SWIFT introducing Sanctions List Distribution?

Failure to comply with sanctions regulations can result in enforcement actions, reputational damage, and other negative consequences for financial institutions Sanctions regulations compliance is complicated by frequent list updates requiring continuous changes to operational systems, and by a lack of agreed standards covering sanctions list data. The lists themselves may lack consistency and coherence in terms of what data they contain and how it is structured.

Whether institutions source their lists directly from regulatory authorities or from third-party vendors, they often need to standardise and format the data before updating their systems. If they have multiple filters or screening operations in multiple locations, this challenge becomes even greater.

With this in mind, SWIFT is launching Sanctions List Distribution to help financial institutions and corporations standardise and optimise their sanctions list updates and maintenance processes. Sanctions List Distribution provides sanctions data for download as standardised packages of commonly used public sanctions lists.

How does SWIFT enhance the quality and level of information in public sanctions lists?

SWIFT will source public sanctions lists from the relevant authorities and standardise the lists by aligning them in a common format in terms of records and fields. We will cleanse the lists by fixing data issues within files, and package and distribute lists in a format (OFAC XML) that can be used by various types of screening filters.  

Why should I consider Sanctions List Distribution?

SWIFT’s Sanctions List Distribution will support effective screening by providing a single, global source of commonly used public sanctions lists in a filter-readable format. The service will help users to increase operational efficiency by offering standardised data and automated sanctions list updates. Sanctions List Distribution means that any bank or corporate, regardless of size, can have access to the very latest public sanctions list data, in a ready-to-use, standardised format.

When will Sanctions List Distribution be available? 

Sanctions List Distribution will be commercially available in Q4 2016. Banks and corporates will be able to download the public sanctions lists of their choice in a standardised format from the SWIFTRef reference data platform.

In the future, we will also be introducing our List Management Service. This hosted service will provide a platform for managing multiple sanctions lists feeds, including public, private and PEP lists.