New Rules for US Citizens Wanting to Travel to Cuba

By G. Isabelle Abad

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • You seem intellectually stuck in 1959.

  • You really don’t care much about Cubans as such, do you?

  • It’s based on the honor system. Keep your receipts for 5 years.

  • 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.

  • It is unfortunate that he can do nothing to restore the rights of Cubans.

  • So with all of the political hooplah, we still cannot just get on a plane and fly down for some fishing and great rum. Absolutely no third term for the organizer obammy! Glad I went when I did through Mexico.

  • No one “deserves” anything in political office. They serve at the pleasure of the people. It should be an privilege and not a right. People who think like you are what allows freaks like the Castros to stay in power as long as they do.

  • Obama is Lincolnesque in restoring the rights of Americans to visit Cuba, freedoms all other citizens in the world enjoy. That and his other overtures to Cuba make the U.S. more like a democracy than a Banana Republic. Like FDR, Obama deserves both a third and a fourth term in the White House.

  • Who knows what questions they will end up asking returning or exiting US citizens or what proof will be necessary to demonstrate any of the 12 issues above? BTW if Handy Style can do it for a commercial product, on behalf of family, check out

  • Looks like it will take an act of congress to remove the restrictions completely.

  • Thanks Obama. No really, thanks.

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