Certified Sanctions Specialist “CSS”

Certification Program

The Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists offers an examination that addresses knowledge and skills common to all sanctions professionals in varied employment settings, including financial institutions, international corporations, law firms, consulting companies, government, and other trades and businesses.

The objective of the certification program is to set the standard for the sanctions profession, and to make Certified Sanctions Specialists (CSS) widely recognized as trained and credentialed specialists in the sanctions field. It is a multiple-choice, proctored exam that can be taken in testing centers across the globe.

Why this Certification?

Career opportunities abound for the sanctions specialists, but the days are over that just anyone can fulfil that role. Especially in these days, the “consumer” of the services of a compliance officer or other sanctions expert has become more vigilant, demanding quality. This demand is exacerbated by the media’s constant attention to sanctions issues arising at financial institutions, or international businesses. Certification of the sanctions professional in organizations that are vulnerable to the problem is designed to meet this consumer concern.

Benefits of Certification

For the certified sanctions specialist

For the employer




Financial Rewards



Steps to Getting CSS Certified

Step 1: Check eligibility

Candidates wishing to sit for the CSS Examination must:

  • Document a minimum of 40 qualifying credits based on education, other professional certification and professional experience in the field.
  • Submit supporting documents

Visit our elegibility calculator to determine if you have enough points.

Eligibility Calculator

Click below to download candidate handbook, which provides information on the process to obtain the CSS Certification.

Download Candidate Handbook

Step 2: Select and purchase your CSS exam package

You have two options:

  • The Standard CSS Examination package includes the CSS Study Guide and the CSS Exam.
  • The CSS Examination with Prep Virtual Classroom Package includes the CSS Study Guide, the CSS Exam, and 6 virtual classrooms.

Please click on the link below to get additional information on pricing and schedules.


Step 3: Take CSS Exam Prep Courses (Package 2)

If you selected to purchase the 12 hours of Virtual Classroom package you will be scheduled at the training.

NOTE: These classes provide you with 12 hours of credits towards your eligibility requirements

Step 4: Schedule your Exam

Select exam type (we offer two options):

  • Virtual Proctoring Option. This option allows the tester to take the exam at the home or office.
  • Testing Center Option. We have over 5000 locations available around the world in which our members can register to take the exam.

Find a testing center near you


Who can take the exam?

Individuals who have met the minimum qualifications can sit for the exam. Eligibility requires a minimum scoring based upon a combination of factors. Persons who have not yet met the minimum levels required can take continuing education programs with ACSS or other sources to reach the minimum requirements. (40 credits, see www.sanctionsassociation.org)

What topics will be on the exam?

The exam will focus on various aspects of the sanctions subject. A job analysis will determine the content and the importance of each knowledge area for the specialists in the field. The certification exam will be tailored to international best practices and basic frameworks for sanctions efforts around the world.
I. Sanctions Regime Types, Goals, Prohibitions and Effects
II. Sanctions Imposers and Targets
III. Sanctions Evasion: Typologies and Schemes
IV. Essential Components of a Risk-Based Sanctions Compliance Program in Different Industry Settings
V. Role of Technology and List Screening
VI. Other Operational Issues Contributing to an Effective and Efficient Sanctions Compliance Program
VII. Enforcement and Conducting or Supporting Investigations into Sanctions Violations

Who is eligibility to take the exam?

ACSS Certification eligibility is based on a points system. Candidates who wish to take the CSS Examination must have a minimum of 40 qualifying credits based on education, other professional certification, and professional experience in the sanctions field, in addition to providing 3 references.

About the exam

The CSS exam will be the product of collaboration between ACSS, its job Analysis Taskforce, and an independent company with expertise on research, testing, measurement, management and technology. The result will be a psychometrically sound exam that assures the quality and soundness of the ACSS certification program.

How is the administration of the exam?

Since ACSS members reside worldwide, we will use a computerized exam. Administration method, ACSS will begin to offer exams in 2019, multiple times per year. ACSS also will offer an online exam preparation publication with sample exam questions. Requirements to sit for the exam include the completion of an ACSS exam application and payment of an application fee plus the costs for the testing service at the time of them exam.

Which is the CSS credit award system for examination eligibility?

I. Education:
a. Associate Degree: 10 credits
b. Bachelor’s Degree: 20 credits
c. Master’s Degree/PhD/JD or equivalent: 30 credits
II. Professional experience:
a. Each year of full-time experience in sanctions or related duties.
b. Professional experience is limited to 3 years: 10 credits per year.
III. Training:
a. Professional Certification – CPA, CPP, CRCM, CAFP, CFE, CAMS, CGSS, ETCI ECoP, Finra Series, etc: 10 credits per certification.
b. Attendance at a course/seminar/webinar/conference/training/certificate courses or educational session on the topic of sanctions, trade compliance or export controls or related subjects (includes internal training, external training, government agency training) – 1 credit per hour.


Xie Jiaoning

Executive Director at FTI Consulting

Expert in international trade and customs affairs, certified trainer of the World Customs Organization. Member of the UN Security Council Sanctions Compliance Experts Bank. Eleven years of working experience in China Customs and eleven years of working experience in trade compliance consulting and training.

As a member of the China Customs Think Tank, he provided policy research and intellectual support for China’s WTO accession negotiations. His research areas include: commodity classification, customs valuation, rules of origin, anti-dumping and countervailing, tax collection and management, intellectual property protection, trade control, etc.

In terms of export control and economic sanctions, Mr. Xie Jiaoning is one of China’s earliest pioneers and one of the most experienced professionals. Relying on a deep understanding of the multilateral export control framework, China’s trade control, and the US export control and economic sanctions system, Mr. Xie has been actively helping Chinese regulatory agencies optimize control policies, strengthen supervision and management, and improve law enforcement mechanisms for the past 20 years; assisting the general public Companies plan and establish export control, economic sanctions, and trade compliance systems, and further coach them to put various systems into practice.

Mr. Xie also often assists companies in conducting trade compliance strategic reviews, export control and sanctions audits, and the formulation of internal control plans. Both multinational companies and local Chinese companies have benefited from his services and recognized their systemicity and practicality.

As a member of expert groups of many international organizations, Mr. Xie also actively participates in the establishment of export control systems in other developing countries, and provides policy advice and intellectual support to the competent government departments of Cambodia, Mongolia, Malaysia and other countries.

Mr. Xie is currently the executive director of FTI Consulting Company, responsible for leading export control and sanctions in Asia.

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