Wednesday, May 29, 2013

U.S. Travel Restrictions Are Still In Place!

Many people are under the impression travel to Cuba is perfectly legal.  Well, yes, it is perfectly legal, if you have a travel license.  If you don't have a license, then you could be facing severe civil and criminal fines.  Yacht owners who visit Cuba should also be aware of the travel restrictions.  Otherwise, the U.S. Treasury Department might take an interest in seizing their yacht.


Please be aware, Cuban travel permits are not guaranteed.  If you are a U.S. citizen, you must obtain a permit to travel to Cuba.  Permanent residents may be placing the renewal of their residency at risk if they get caught traveling without a permit.

OFAC-Authorized Travel

ISSUED: July 25, 2011

SUBJECT: Travel to Cuba and People-to-People Groups

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) is aware of misstatements in the media suggesting U.S. foreign policy allows unrestricted travel to Cuba.  Although OFAC amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515 in January 2011 to expand licensing of travel to Cuba for specific purposes, the amended Regulations still contain significant travel restrictions.

OFAC now licenses to organizations that sponsor and organize educational exchange programs.  The program must promote contact with the Cuban people (“People-to-People Groups”).  The strict requirements set forth in section 515.565(b)(2) of the Regulations and OFAC’s licensing guidelines must be met.  The OFAC Comprehensive Guidelines for License Applications to Engage in Travel-Related Transactions Involving Cuba are available HERE.  Please check the regulations to insure your proposed trip to Cuba could be authorized under this or any other travel license category.


As stated in the Application Guidelines, OFAC only licenses People-to-People Groups that certify all participants will have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities.  They must certify those activities will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba. Authorized activities by People-to-People Groups are not “tourist activities” under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.  The Act prohibits OFAC from licensing travel-related transactions for tourist activities.

A People-toPeople Group must use an OFAC-authorized Travel Service Provider if they use outside assistance for travel.  Travel agents and tour operators in the United States must hold an OFAC Travel Service Provider authorization in order to organize trips, collect funds, make travel arrangements, or engage in any other Cuba travel-related transactions for People-to-People Groups.

Authorized travelers to Cuba are subject to daily spending limits and are prohibited from bringing any Cuban “souvenirs” or other goods into the United States.  The exception is for informational materials.

Civil and criminal penalties may result from a violation of the Regulations.
For additional information about OFAC sanctions involving Cuba, you may contact:

U.S. Department of the Treasury 
Washington, D.C. 202/622-2490 
Miami, FL 786/845-2828 (Travel Service Providers)

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