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?
This certification is offered by the only association that is for the sanctions compliance professional. We see sanctions compliance as it truly is – a distinct skill set and knowledge base that is apart from anti-money laundering or financial crime.
The certification exam is universal and does not just focus on one country or one industry. It validates competence and skill across the sanctions spectrum, including policy, due diligence, screening, compliance, investigations into sanctions evasion and more.
Once you become a Certified Sanctions Specialist, you will be seen as an expert in legal and regulatory proceedings regarding sanctions, increasing your credibility and competitive advantage.
As a private organization, having Certified Sanctions Specialists on your team improves your image and reputation, and shows that you are dedicated to having a trained compliance staff.
Benefits of Certification for the certified sanctions specialist
Benefits of Certification for the employer
CSS Exam Prep Virtual Classroom
The CSS Exam Prep Virtual Classroom is a live web-based study course, which provides candidates of the Certified Sanctions Specialist (CSS) designation additional guided instruction to help retain and reinforce the key concepts covered in the CSS study guide. The CSS Exam Prep Virtual Classroom will keep you on track towards becoming a Certified Sanctions Specialist.
The CSS Exam Prep Virtual Classroom includes:
• Electronic CSS Study Guide (PDF)
• CSS Virtual Classroom – Exam Prep
• In-depth analysis of the content covered in the CSS Study Guide
• Practice questions to assess understanding of the material and raise test-taking confidence
• 6 easy-to-follow 2-hour virtual classes over a six week period
• NOTE: All classes are recorded and posted within 24 hours, if you cannot attend the live virtual classroom
What Will You Learn?
The exam covers sanctions from an international and cross-sector point of view.
In as little as three months, individuals and teams can gain certification.
- Learn sanctions concepts, purpose and definitions
- Be able to identify sanctions evasion techniques across sectors
- Understand due diligence and KYC for sanctions compliance purposes
- Discover key elements of a compliance program
- Learn IT and other operational practices for sanctions compliance
- Gain a detailed understanding of risks of non-compliance
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
Click below to download candidate handbook, which provides information on the process to obtain the CSS Certification.
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 purchased the Virtual Classroom Package, you will be scheduled for the next session.
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.
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 eligible 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.
I passed the CSS exam and my company paid for it. When I leave the company, will I keep my credential?
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 exam administered?
Which is the CSS credit award system for examination eligibility?
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.
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.
For more information, please download the Candidate Handbook.
What are the recertification requirements?
In order to recertify the CSS credential, you must meet the following requirements:
- Maintain an active CSS membership.
- Meet the Continuing Education credit requirements.
- Submit an online application with the appropriate renewal fees.
A total of 60 continuing education credits must be accumulated within a three-year cycle. These can be sanctions or export controls related courses from ACSS, internal training, or other providers.
Applicants will not be granted continuing education credits for activities completed prior to obtaining their CSS credential or their most recent recertification.
Additional credits earned past the required 60 cannot be rolled over to the following cycle.
The deadline for earning continuing education credits is December 15 of the year of your recertification.
Recertification applicants are required to submit both a completed CSS Recertification Application and the associated fees no later than
December 15 of the third year after receiving their initial certification or their most recent recertification.
A late fee of US$50 will be applied to all applicants who miss the December 15 deadline and will be accepted for only 90 days after the deadline.
Applicants do not need to include supporting documentation along with the recertification application; however, they are advised to retain original copies of their supporting documents in their files in the event that ACSS should find it necessary to audit their records.
Early Application Fee $200
Application and fee received by ACSS no later than October 1
Regular Application $250
Application and fee received by ACSS no later than December 15
Late Application $300
Application and fee received by ACSS no later than March 31
Additional questions? Contact ACSS for more information, Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you soon!
Director at BSCN BV
Principal at Langley Compliance Consulting, LLC
Executive Director and Co-Founder of ACSS
She is a frequent speaker in English, Spanish and Dutch on a variety of ﬁnancial crime topics.
She earned law degrees from Leiden University (Netherlands) and Universidad La Católica (Lima, Peru), and was admitted to the Lima Bar Association. She also holds an international MBA from Florida International University. She speaks ﬂuent Dutch, English and Spanish, as well as basic German.
Associate in Hughes Hubbard & Reed
Global Sanctions Lead, Airwallex
Licensed to practice law in the United States (New York) and Iran (Tehran), he was previously part of BNP Paribas sanctions compliance team. He worked for BNP Paribas in New York and in Paris on both U.S and EU sanctions.
Amir has been a member of ACSS Editorial Task Force since Sept. 2020.