Understanding sanctions

Sanctions are restrictions on trade and financial transactions. They aim to cut off resources to stop aggressive and harmful activity, for example, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, military conflicts, or human rights abuse.

Sanctions can be applied to:

  • individuals or organisations (often known as ‘designated persons’)
  • particular sectors, industries, activities, or services
  • specific goods like arms, dual-use goods or technologies
  • regions or entire countries.

How sanctions may affect you

We check transactions facilitated by us for sanctions compliance. We follow sanctions laws from New Zealand as well as those from relevant overseas sanctions authorities.

We may ask you for more information, to help us decide if we should process this kind of transaction. If you don’t provide this information your transactions may be delayed, or we may not be able to process your transactions.

We will freeze (block) or reject a transaction where it’s necessary under our Sanctions Policy and/or applicable law. Applicable laws may also mean BNZ must file a report with a regulator.

More about how sanctions affect international payments.

Our compliance obligations

We follow all applicable sanctions laws, in all jurisdictions in which BNZ and its parent company, National Australia Bank (NAB) Group operate. These are, but not limited to, the sanctions and regulations administered by:

  • New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control
  • U.K. Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation
  • Monetary Authority of Singapore
  • European Union
  • United Nations Security Council.

Breaches of sanctions laws may impact our business and that of our customers by incurring large penalties and funds being frozen (blocked).


We’ve put measures in place to help us and our customers follow applicable sanctions laws, which means prohibiting certain transactions. ^

  1. Transactions involving countries subject to ‘comprehensive’ sanctions, including:
    •  Cuba
    •  Iran
    • North Korea (DPRK)
    •  Syria
    • regions of Ukraine not controlled by the Ukrainian government (including Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions).
  2. Transactions involving customers who are currently living in countries subject to 'comprehensive' sanctions.
  3. Most commercial transactions involving restricted countries, including:
    • Afghanistan
    • Belarus
    • Myanmar
    • Russia
    • parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions not controlled by the Ukrainian government
    • Venezuela.
  4. Transactions involving designated individuals and entities, also known as designated person or specially designated nationals.
  5. Transactions involving import and export restrictions implemented by New Zealand or any other applicable overseas regulator.

Sanctions queries

If you have any queries in relation to our Sanction Policy, please contact us.