How New US Regs on Cuba May Affect Your Travel and Business Plans

By Café Fuerte

Pico Turiquino from Comandancia de la Plata- Sierra Maestra, Cuba.  Photo: Sanja Mirenic

HAVANA TIMES — The United States government issued new clarifications on Tuesday on measures that will take effect for travel, remittances and business with Cuba following the recent announcement by President Donald Trump regarding Washington’s policy toward the island.

The document released by the Treasury Department includes answers to 14 frequently asked questions from travelers, business people and the general public about the policy change that Trump proclaimed in Miami on June 16.

Basically, the questionnaire is a compendium of measures that will be implemented in the coming months under the strategy of restricting certain individual trips of people-to-people contact, and prohibiting the relations of US business people and companies with Cuban entities linked to the Armed Forces, Intelligence Services and State Security.

In essence, this is an official confirmation from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on the plan that will be put into effect soon. The issuance of the new regulations is expected to occur on 15 September.

No established business will be affected

The foreseen effects will be on individual people-to-people trips, which will be suspended, although they may be made in groups and under the auspices and supervision of an authorized entity. But OFAC notes that travelers who do their planning and ticket reservations before the new regulations are issued, will be able to make their trip under the rules in effect with the Obama administration.

Likewise, commercial operations already established with Cuban governmental entities will not be prohibited, even if the links involve the Armed Forces or the intelligence services of Cuba, considering the interest of the Trump administration “to not adversely affect US companies for participating in lawful business opportunities “on the island.

Neither remittances nor cruise travel will be affected by the new regulations, notes the document.

Here are the complete new Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) questions and answers:

Frequently Asked Questions on President Trump’s Cuba Announcement

Updated on July 25, 2017

1. How will OFAC implement the changes to the Cuba sanctions program announced by the President on June 16, 2017? Are the changes effective immediately?

OFAC will implement the Treasury-specific changes via amendments to its Cuban Assets Control Regulations. The Department of Commerce will implement any necessary changes via amendments to its Export Administration Regulations. OFAC expects to issue its regulatory amendments in the coming months. The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

2. What is individual people-to-people travel, and how does the President’s announcement impact this travel authorization?

Individual people-to-people travel is educational travel that: (i) does not involve academic study pursuant to a degree program; and (ii) does not take place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. The President instructed Treasury to issue regulations that will end individual people-to-people travel. The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

3. Will group people-to-people travel still be authorized?

Yes. Group people-to-people travel is educational travel not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program that takes place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. Travelers utilizing this travel authorization must: (i) maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba; and (ii) be accompanied by an employee, consultant, or agent of the sponsoring organization, who will ensure that each traveler maintains a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities. In addition, the predominant portion of the activities engaged in by individual travelers must not be with prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba or prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party (as defined in the regulations). Once OFAC issues the new regulations, new individual people-to-people travel will not be authorized.

4. Will organizations subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsor exchanges to promote people-to-people contact be required to apply to OFAC for a specific license?

No. To the extent that proposed travel falls within the scope of an existing general license, including group people-to-people educational travel, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may proceed with sponsoring such travel without applying to OFAC for a specific license. It is OFAC’s policy not to grant applications for a specific license authorizing transactions where a general license is applicable.

Once the State Department publishes its list of entities and subentities with which direct transactions will not be authorized and OFAC issues its regulations, no new transactions, including travel-related transactions, may be initiated with these identified entities and sub entities. Prior travel arrangements that may involve these entities or sub-entities will still be authorized. See FAQ 8.

5. How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect individual people-to-people travelers who have already begun making their travel arrangements (such as purchasing flights, hotels, or rental cars)?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Provided that the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to the President’s announcement on June 16, 2017, all additional travel-related transactions for that trip would also be authorized, including if the trip occurs after OFAC issues new regulations, provided the travel-related transactions are consistent with OFAC’s regulations as of June 16, 2017. Once the State Department publishes its list of entities and subentities with which direct transactions will not be authorized and OFAC issues its regulations, no new transactions may be initiated with these identified entities and sub-entities. Prior travel arrangements that may involve these entities or sub-entities will still be authorized. See FAQ 8.

6. How does the new policy impact other authorized travel to Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction?

The new policy will also impact certain categories of educational travel as well as travel under support for the Cuban people, as set forth in the National Security Presidential Memorandum signed by the President on June 16, 2017. In addition, following the issuance of OFAC’s regulatory changes, travel-related transactions with prohibited entities identified by the State Department will not be permitted, unless otherwise authorized by OFAC. Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.

7. Will persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction be required to apply to OFAC for a specific license to engage in Cuba-related travel and transactions consistent with the other authorized categories of travel?

To the extent that proposed travel falls within the scope of an existing general license, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may proceed with such travel without applying to OFAC for a specific license. It is OFAC’s policy not to grant applications for a specific license authorizing transactions where a general license is applicable. Once the State Department publishes its list of entities and sub-entities with which direct transactions will not be authorized and OFAC issues its regulations, no new transactions may be initiated with these identified entities and sub-entities. Prior travel arrangements that may involve these entities or sub-entities will still be authorized. See FAQ 8.

8. How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect authorized travelers to Cuba whose travel arrangements may include direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Consistent with the Administration’s interest to avoid negatively impacting Americans for arranging lawful travel to Cuba, any travel-related arrangements that include direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy will be permitted provided that those travel arrangements were initiated prior to the State Department listing of the entity or sub-entity. Once the State Department adds an entity or sub-entity to the list, new direct financial transactions with the entity or sub-entity will not be permitted, unless authorized by OFAC.

9. How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect companies subject to U.S. jurisdiction that are already engaged in the Cuban market and that may undertake direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Consistent with the Administration’s interest in not negatively impacting American businesses for engaging in lawful commercial opportunities, Cuba-related commercial engagement that includes direct transactions with entities and sub-entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy will be permitted after the issuance of new regulations by OFAC, provided that those commercial engagements were in place prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations. For example, businesses will be permitted to continue with transactions outlined in contingent or other types of contractual arrangements agreed to prior to the issuance of the new regulations, consistent with other CACR authorizations.

10. Does the new policy affect the means by which persons subject to U.S jurisdiction may purchase airline tickets for authorized travel to Cuba?

No. The new policy will not change the means by which persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction traveling to Cuba pursuant to the 12 categories of authorized travel may purchase their airline tickets.

11. Can I continue to send authorized remittances to Cuba?

Yes. The announced policy changes will not change the authorizations for sending remittances to Cuba. Additionally, the announced changes include an exception that will allow for transactions incidental to the sending, processing, and receipt of authorized remittances to the extent they would otherwise be restricted by the new policy limiting transactions with certain identified Cuban military, intelligence, or security services. However, consistent with the President’s policy announcement, changes will be made to the definition of prohibited members of Government of Cuba that may exclude certain persons from receipt of such remittances.

12. How will the new policy impact existing OFAC specific licenses?

The forthcoming regulations will be prospective and thus will not affect authorized transactions under existing specific licenses, unless explicitly noted.

13. How will U.S. companies know if a Cuban counterpart is affiliated with a prohibited entity or subentity in Cuba?

The State Department will be publishing a list of entities and subentities with which direct transactions generally will not be permitted. Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations. The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

14. Is authorized travel by cruise ship or passenger vessel to Cuba impacted by the new Cuba policy?

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will still be able to engage in authorized travel to Cuba by cruise ship or passenger vessel.

Following the issuance of OFAC’s regulatory changes, travel-related transactions with prohibited entities and sub-entities identified by the State Department generally will not be permitted. Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.

For more information on the National Security Presidential Memorandum visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/06/16/fact-sheet-cuba-policy.



5 thoughts on “How New US Regs on Cuba May Affect Your Travel and Business Plans

  • Well IF(?) the changes result in a reduction in the anticipated increase in US tourists, then the visible price inflation in places like Trinidad, Vinales and Havana may cease. A brief comparison of Casa Particular prices on AirBnB and on Cubaparticular.com, demonstrates prices on the former increasing by as much as 60%

    Reply
  • What will happen is that the Cuban government will rise the convertibles the equivalent to the U.S. Dollar will be an equal exchange. This coin is to undermine the U.S. government treasury department on economic sanctions on the trade embargo.
    The Cuban government knows the U.S. undermining influence very well, and has worked around it well.
    The Cuban government will not fall into the desires of the undermining Capitalist, and their shortcomings, suffering, exploitations, imperialism, destruction, and scams, and deceit. Here we have health care for everyone, in Cuba we do not sell drugs, or have violent created government gangs.
    We have over 600 Universities in Cuba.

    Reply
    • Cuba’s communist regime has its own violent gang of goons, they beat, threaten, berate and take their victims to Villa Marista for extracted ‘confessions’. The name of the gang is MININT. Despite the claimed low level of crime, Cuba has the fourth highest level of incarceration in the world. People locked up for ‘disrespect’,
      The five countries spending over 9% of their GDP on education in order are:
      Timor-Leste
      Cuba
      Lesotho
      Burundi
      Moldova

      The defined purpose in the constitution of education in Cuba is communist indoctrination.
      Cuba joined many other countries when it introduced health care for everyone, a concept which started in 1942.

      Reply
    • “… What will happen is that the Cuban government will rise the convertibles the equivalent to the U.S. Dollar will be an equal exchange…”

      What in the world are you talking about?…

      Reply

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