FAQs - Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists


Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions About ACSS

What is ACSS?

ACSS is an international membership organization that provides career development, through certificate courses and certification, as well as professional networking for sanctions professionals. ACSS also acts as a resource for financial institutions, corporate entities, and related businesses to identify and locate sanctions specialists in this rapidly expanding field.

Who created it and when?

ACSS was created in September 2018, by founding sponsor Alert Media Group, LLC, a leading independent authority on sanctions compliance and training, and publisher of ACSS. ACSS is supported and guided by an Advisory Board of industry professionals.

What is its mission?

We are THE association for sanctions professionals ! ACSS’ mission is to advance the professional knowledge, skills and experience of those dedicated to sanctions, and to promote the development and implementation of sound sanctions policies and procedures.

Who are your members?

ACSS has 1000+ members in 40+ countries, including USA, Costa Rica, India, Russia, UAE, Netherlands, UK, and many more ! Members include both private sector professionals from financial institutions such as banks, credit card companies, payment companies and money services businesses) plus corporations from oil and gas, export, pharmaceutical, entertainment, shipping and trading commodities and more. We also have members from the government sector.

Members have job titles such as:

  • Sanctions Officer
  • OFAC Officer
  • Manager, Global Sanctions
  • Sanctions Manager
  • Chief Sanctions Officer
  • Director Corporate Compliance
  • Senior BSA/AML/OFAC consultant
  • General Counsel
  • Assistant General Counsel
  • Trade Controls Manager
  • SVP Export Controls

Do you have testimonials from customers about your programs?

Questions about Membership

What are the benefits of ACSS membership?

We offer several benefits:

  1. Targeted OFAC/sanctions training: As a member, you will have FREE access to our library of on-demand webinars on sanctions topics. You also have FREE access to all our live webinars, so you can ask our experts all the questions you wish.
  2. Resources: In addition, members of ACSS have access to the member-only part of our website at www.sanctionsassociation.org, including the
    • OFAC Enforcement Actions Database, with 900+ enforcement actions that can be searched by industry, year and violation type.
    • Interactive Sanctions Map, showing sanctions imposed by UN, EU, OFAC, UK and Canada. Click on a country and find out if the UN, the EU, OFAC, the UK or Canada have imposed sanctions on it.
    • Official Guidance Library, with guidance document about sanctions from government agencies and international organizations around the world, including OFAC, UN, EU, BIS, OFSI and Canada.
  3. Networking:
    • Volunteer for a Taskforce and network with your fellow members. For more information: https://sanctionsassociation.org/task-forces/
    • List serve – This is an email communication system for members. You can ask your fellow members and the ACSS Advisory Board real-world questions about sanctions.
  4. Discounts: ACSS member get preferential pricing for our programs, including the ACSS International Sanctions Conference in New York City. All of this for only $195 per person per year. Register now
How long is the membership?

Your ACSS membership last for one year. At the end of your membership period, you can choose whether or not to renew your membership for a subsequent year.

Do you offer enterprise memberships or group packages?

Yes we do. We offer attractive multiple person packages for larger organizations. Contact us at helpdesk@sanctionsassociation.org

I am with the government. Do you offer government pricing?

Yes, we offer government pricing for membership and other program. Membership for government officials is $145 per year. Register now

Is the membership for individuals or companies?

The membership in ACSS is for individuals. However, we offer enterprise packages for multiple members from the same organization. Please contact us for more information at helpdesk@sanctionsassociation.org

Who are ACSS members?

Currently, ACSS has surpassed 1000 charter members in multiple countries, including the US, UK, UAE, Canada and the Netherlands. We have both members from the private and public sector. Join us now! See testimonials here: https://sanctionsassociation.org/testimonials/

I was a member of SanctionsAlert, what is the difference?

Your membership in SanctionsAlert has been transferred to membership in ACSS. You should have received a notification about that. You will have the same expiration date and have the same benefits, and more! If for any reason you haven’t receive your membership transfer, please do not hesitate to contact as at helpdesk@sanctionsassociation.org

Questions about Access to ACSS Webinars

I am a member. How do I access the on-demand webinars that are part of my membership?

Members should have received their login details by email. If not, please email us at helpdesk@sanctionsassociation.org .

For a seamless user experience, we have created a “single sign on” system, so you only need one password to access your Member-only Resources on our website as well as gain access to our learning management system where you can find our on-demand webinars.

Follow these steps to access on-demand courses:

  • Step 1: Go to sanctionsassociation.org
  • Step 2: Click “member” and log in (top right)
  • Step 3: Go to main menu on homepage, and click tab “resources”
  • Step 4: From the dropdown, select “on demand webinars”
  • Step 5: You now see a list of webinars. Click the webinar of your choice and it takes you to the learning management system
  • Step 6: Watch the course. After watching you can download a Certificate of Attendance.
I am a member. How do I access the LIVE webinars that are part of my membership?

As a member you will have complimentary access to ACSS live webinars. For upcoming webinars, see here: https://sanctionsassociation.org/upcoming-live-webinars Mark your calendar so you don’t miss them. You will receive notifications by email about upcoming live webinars a few days before the webinar takes place, including the log in instructions and frequently we offer a Participant Guide with materials for the webinar.

Questions about the Interactive Map

Which sanctions are included in the interactive map?

Members can access the map here: https://resources.sanctionsassociation.org The map covers sanctions imposed by the following countries/international organizations:

  • United Nations Security Council
  • European Union
  • United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom

Questions about the OFAC Essentials Certificate Course

What is the OFAC Essentials Certificate Course?

The OFAC Essentials Certificate Program is a 7-part course, consisting of approximately 6 training hours, across 4 weeks. The course is delivered in an online format. The material is available on ACSS Learning Management System and Part 3 and 5 are “live virtual classrooms” (similar to a webinar, but more interactive). The course can be completed online. It is NOT Self-paced. It consists of 7-parts, which you have to take in order: The cost is $495 for members and $595 for non-members. We offer multiple person discounts. At the end of 4 weeks, participants who successfully completed the program receive:

  • A Certificate of Completion: Upon passing the assessment, participants will receive an electronic Certificate which denotes the completion of the course.
  • Credit hours (CSS credits will be awarded. You can use this towards becoming eligible for the CSS Certification exam)

The OFAC Essentials Certificate Course will be offered several times per year. Check the Certificate Course page here https://sanctionsassociation.org/certificate-ofac-essentials/ Contact us for further questions: helpdesk@sanctionsassociation.org

I am interested in the OFAC Essentials Course, but what happens if I miss part 3 or 5 ( Virtual Classroom)?

You must then see the recording of the missed class on our platform.

If I take the OFAC Essentials Certificate Course, am I a Certified Sanctions Specialist?

No, only those who successfully pass the international CSS examination will be able to use the CSS designation behind their name.The OFAC Essentials Certificate Course is a course, with mandatory steps to complete, and a quiz at the end. If you successfully pass the quiz and completed all parts of the course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion.

Do you offer multiple-person packages?

Yes. If you have multiple team members who can benefit from this program or wish to talk about enterprise packages, please contact us for pricing and more information: helpdesk@sanctionsassociation.org or call +1-305-433-7187

What does the OFAC Certificate Course cover? Which topics?
  • A Walking Tour Through Main OFAC legal authorities and laws.
  • Categories, Principles and Core Concepts Used Throughout OFAC Sanctions Regimes
  • Overview of OFAC Organizational structure – who does what?
  • Recognizing OFAC Sanctions Risks: Sound OFAC Risk Assessment
  • OFAC Compliance Program – Control Basics
  • Customer Due Diligence and Screening
  • OFAC 50% Rule: Direct, Indirect, Aggregate Ownership and Cascade Effect
  • OFAC Reporting Requirements
  • OFAC Licenses: Process and Best Practices
  • OFAC Enforcement
What is the difference between the “OFAC Essentials Certificate Course” and the “CSS Certification Exam?”

The OFAC Essentials Certificate Course is an online training course of approximately 6-7 hours. At the end there is an online quiz that you can take from your computer at home or at work. This course is US specific and only covers OFAC. The course is repeated several times each year, starting in January 2019. Those who take the course and pass the quiz will obtain a “Certificate of Completion” for this course.

The CSS Certification Exam is a more in depth program covering sanctions worldwide. See questions about the Exam.

Questions about the CSS Certification Exam

What is the Certified Sanctions Specialist (CSS) Certification Exam?

In conjunction with a psychometric company, ACSS has developed an examination that addresses knowledge and skills common to all sanctions professionals in varied employment settings, including financial institutions, law firms, consulting companies, government, and international corporations.

The topic of the exam is US, EU, UN, Canada and other sanctions plus international standards on sanctions compliance.

It is a multiple-choice, proctored exam that can be taken in testing centers across the globe.

The objective of the CSS 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.

What topics are covered by the CSS Exam?

ACSS has conducted a profound international “job task analysis” (an international study among sanctions professionals) to ensure that the standards of the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) are met. This Study has determined the exact content for the exam, and the importance of each knowledge area for the professionals in this field.

The certification exam is 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

How can I prepare for the CSS Exam?

We offer a self-study Exam Prep Guide, plus 6 LIVE Virtual Classroom Sessions of 2 hours each, covering all the areas of the exam. You can ask your questions live. We also offer an Exam Prep Seminar at the ACSS International Sanctions Conference in New York. https://sanctionsconference.com/css-seminar/

Do you offer multiple-person Certification packages?

Yes. If you have multiple team members who can benefit from this program or wish to talk about enterprise packages, please contact for pricing and more information: helpdesk@sanctionsassociation.org or call +1-305-433-7187

Where can I take the CSS Exam?

The CSS Exam is offered 3 or times per year. You can take the Exam in any of 4000+ testing centers located around the globe.

Why does ACSS offer a certification exam?

Career opportunities abound for sanctions specialists, but the days when just anyone could fulfill such roles are over.The “consumer” of the services of a compliance officer or other sanctions specialist has become more vigilant and demanding as legal responsibilities and government expectations have grown and become more complicated. The situation is exacerbated by the media’s constant attention to sanctions issues arising at banks, other financial institutions and corporations. Certification of the sanctions professional in organizations that are vulnerable to the risk of violating sanctions is designed to meet these consumer and governmental concerns.

When can I take the CSS Exam?

The CSS Exam can be taken at any time. Once you register and you have submitted your points and references you will get an authorization email from ACSS. Once you have that you can go on the Pearson Vue website and schedule the exam at a date and time and city that is convenient for you. Those who successfully pass the Certification Exam, will obtain the credential “Certified Sanctions Specialist” (CSS).

How can I register for the CSS Exam?

Go to this page and register now. https://sanctionsassociation.org/css-certification/

How much is the Certification Package and What does it include?
The pricing can be found here. https://sanctionsassociation.org/css-certification/ The package includes an

  • Study Guide
  • 6 Virtual Classroom Sessions of 2 hours each, covering all the areas of the exam
  • Registration fee for the exam
In what language is the CSS Exam offered?

The CSS Exam is currently conducted in English. We expect other languages, including Spanish, to be added soon.

Who can take the Exam?

You have to be an ACSS member before you can to sit for the Exam. In addition, Candidates need 40 CSS credits. For more information about how to obtain CSS credits, visit: https://sanctionsassociation.org/eligibility/

Will ACSS be “grandfathering” members with a lot of experience in the field, so that they don’t have to take the CSS exam?

No, we do not plan to do this. Grandfathering may go against the very premise of certification based on commonly accepted knowledge. Notwithstanding that someone may work in an area for years, different people learn different things at different rates. ACSS would have no way ascertaining what any grandfathered person knows. As this would be detrimental to the long-term goals of the organization, ACSS Advisory Board will discuss this, but we do not expect to implement a grandfathering process. To be able to call yourself a “CSS” (Certified Sanctions Specialist) you have to successfully pass the CSS Exam.


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