New Rules for US Citizens Wanting to Travel to Cuba

By G. Isabelle Abad

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Photo: Evan Michael Gildenblatt

HAVANA TIMES — The US Department of Treasury and Commerce announced historic changes today to the travel regulations sanctioned by the Cuban Assets and Control Regulations (CACR). These amendments have further expanded on the previous loosening of restrictions for US citizens to engage in travel to Cuba, and take part in trade and business with Cuba.

Today’s reduction in barriers are in addition to the announcements made exactly one month ago on February 16, 2016 by the Cuban and US governments, restoring scheduled air service from the US to Cuba. Today’s significant changes come a week before President Obama’s historic visit to Havana.

The most significant change made by OFAC to its regulations is removing the requirement that US citizens travel with a sponsored group to qualify under the People-to-People educational category license. Whereas before this option was only available to US citizens who could adhere to a certain program’s itinerary and high costs, now this essentially opens up travel to Cuba for almost every American. The following is required:

“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.”

However loose travel restrictions have become, it is important to note that the embargo is still in place and that under it tourism as such continues prohibited. To travel to Cuba legally under a general self-applied license, a U.S. citizen must fall under one of the twelve categories required by the Department of Treasury.

(1) Family visits;

(2) Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations;

(3) Journalistic activity;

(4) Professional research and professional meetings;

(5) Educational activities;

(6) Religious activities;

(7) Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions;

(8) Support for the Cuban people;

(9) Humanitarian projects;

(10) Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes;

(11) Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and

(12) Certain authorized export transactions.


14 thoughts on “New Rules for US Citizens Wanting to Travel to Cuba

  • March 24, 2016 at 12:39 pm
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    I wish that were the case as well. You can thank 9/11 and the continued terror threat for that. And with what just happened in Belgium and Paris it may get tougher in Europe.

  • March 24, 2016 at 10:15 am
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    I’m not a US citizen but you obviously are. Every country I visit requires a Visa or Application of some sort. Yes, my passport entitles me to automatic visa’s in most countries, so automatic is the process, you often don’t even know it’s happening. But to come to the USA, No, you have to get a Visa and a whole other heap of rigmarole, then when you arrive you get photographed and finger printed. Wish I could just get on a plane and fly over for some fishing in the USA.

  • March 17, 2016 at 11:28 am
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    You seem intellectually stuck in 1959.

  • March 17, 2016 at 7:25 am
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    You really don’t care much about Cubans as such, do you?

  • March 16, 2016 at 7:37 pm
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    It’s based on the honor system. Keep your receipts for 5 years.

  • March 16, 2016 at 5:26 pm
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    Perhaps, Moses, the Castro “freaks” would never have been known off the island if the Batista-Mafia dictatorship hadn’t made a revolution necessary and if the transplanted Batistianos hadn’t hid behind the skirts of the U. S. superpower while committing such atrocities as the terrorist bombing of Cuban Flight 455. Or, frankly, if such things as the Bay of Pigs hadn’t helped create an ever bigger legend and legacy for Fidel Castro. So, I repeat: FDR deserved 3rd and 4th terms and SO DOES Obama…for having the courage and the decency to confront Batistiano-rule in the U. S. Congress more than any other American leader. Innocent Cubans on the island will benefit from Obama’s actions, as will the U. S. democracy.

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