Amazon is one of the biggest e-commerce marketplaces in the world. Many hand-knotted Persian rug dealers in the USA have been selling their rug inventory through Amazon’s website for many years.

Around late June 2015, Amazon sent the following email to many vendors who were selling authentic Persian rugs (which are made in Iran), on the Amazon website.

A sample of emails has been received from Amazon.

“Hello from Amazon.

We are writing to let you know that the following detail pages have been removed from our catalog:

ASIN: B00ITVKRIM, SKU: 30669, Title: "9' 4" x 12' 8" authentic-kerman-hand knotted persian rug"

This product has been identified as one that does not comply with sanctions requirements.  Amazon prohibits for sale or listing any items that violate sanctions requirements.

For more information on our policies, search on "Restricted Products" and "Listing Restrictions" in Seller Help.

**Action Required: Within 48 hours of this notice, please review your remaining listings and make any changes necessary to ensure compliance with our policies.

Failure to comply with this request may result in the removal of your selling privileges.

We appreciate your cooperation and thank you for selling on Amazon.com.

Amazon Services

Please note: this e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply to this message.”

At first, the email looks like a spam, however, after searching for "Persian rug" on the Amazon website, you will notice that there are not any authentic Persian rugs for sale.

Selling Persian rugs in the United States is not illegal according to the official statement from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the Department of Treasury.

According to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the Department of Treasury:

“Effective September 29, 2010, the authorization to import into the United States, and deal in, certain foodstuffs and carpets of Iranian origin was revoked pursuant to section 103 of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010.  The exceptions to the prohibition on importing goods and services are listed in the IMPORTS FROM IRAN section of this document.”

Selling authentic Persian rugs in the USA is 100% legal and complies with the US sanction, just as long as the Persian rugs came to the USA before September 29, 2010.

It is not very clear why Amazon suddenly stopped allowing authentic Persian rugs to be sold on its website without any legal and logical explanation.

A couple of attempts to contact Amazon ended up with no response.  The position of Amazon about selling Persian rugs is not complying with the OFAC and the US sanctions. 

There is a simple solution. Amazon should request from Persian rug dealers to provide the legal papers (US customs documents) proofing for the existence of the Persian rugs inventory in the US, before deleting the Persian rug dealers’ listings on its website.

Hopefully, Amazon will have a better understanding of its actions when it comes to Persian rugs and the US sanction.