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Cuba Travel Requirements

The U.S. Department of the Treasury enforces the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, which apply to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents wherever they are located, all people and organizations physically located in the United States, and branches and subsidiaries of U.S. organizations throughout the world. The regulations require that persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction be licensed in order to engage in any travel-related transactions pursuant to travel to, from, and within Cuba. Transactions related to travel for tourist activities are not licensable. This restriction also prohibits tourist travel to Cuba from or through a third country such as Mexico or Canada. U.S. law enforcement authorities enforce these regulations at U.S. airports and pre-clearance facilities in third countries. Travelers who fail to comply with Department of the Treasury regulations could face civil penalties and criminal prosecution upon return to the United States.

Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance and sells a temporary policy to those who do not have it. Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Cuba. Cuban authorities do not demand HIV tests of travelers to Cuba, with the exception of foreign students on scholarships. The Cuban authorities currently accept the results of HIV tests conducted by labs in the United States.

For the latest information on U.S. regulations governing travel to Cuba and to view the most accurate and updated travel restrictions information, please see the Department of Treasury's OFAC website at http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/cuba.aspx

General licenses for Travel: General licenses are granted to the following categories of travelers, who are permitted to spend money to travel to Cuba and to engage in other transactions directly incident to the purpose of their travel, without the need to obtain a specific license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) :

  • Persons visiting a close relative (any individual related to a person by blood, marriage, or adoption who is no more than three generations removed from that person or from a common ancestor with that person) who is a national of Cuba, and persons traveling with them who share a common dwelling as a family with them. There is no limit on the duration or frequency of such travel. (According to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, third country nationals who reside in Cuba are considered Cuban nationals.)
  • Journalists and supporting broadcasting or technical personnel (regularly employed in that capacity by a news reporting organization and traveling for journalistic activities).
  • Official government travelers on official business.
  • Members of international organizations of which the United States is also a member (traveling on official business).
  • Religious organizations, including members and staff, traveling for the purpose of participating and engaging in religious activities. Organizations may open accounts at Cuban financial institutions for the purpose of accessing funds in Cuba for transactions related to such activities.
  • Students and all members of faculty and staff of accredited U.S. graduate and undergraduate degree granting institutions can participate in academic activities in Cuba through any sponsoring U.S. academic institution, not only through the accredited U.S. academic institution at which the student is pursuing a degree, if the traveler's study in Cuba will be accepted for credit toward the student's degree.
  • Persons teaching at a Cuban academic institution if regularly employed in a teaching capacity at the sponsoring U.S. academic institution and provided the teaching activities are related to an academic program at the Cuban institution and the duration of the teaching will be no shorter than 10 weeks.
  • Full-time professionals, whose travel transactions are directly related to research in their professional areas, provided that their research: 1) is of a noncommercial, academic nature; 2) comprises a full work schedule in Cuba; and 3) has a substantial likelihood of public dissemination.
  • Full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to attendance at professional meetings or conferences in Cuba that are organized by an international professional organization, institution, or association that regularly sponsors such meetings or conferences in other countries. An organization, institution, or association headquartered in the United States may not sponsor such a meeting or conference unless it has been specifically licensed to sponsor it. The purpose of the meeting or conference cannot be the promotion of tourism in Cuba or other commercial activities involving Cuba, or to foster production of any bio-technological products.
  • Employees of a U.S. telecommunications services provider or an entity duly appointed to represent such a provider traveling incident to: 1) the commercial marketing, sales negotiation, accompanied delivery, or servicing of authorized telecommunications-related items; or 2) participation in certain telecommunications-related professional meetings for the commercial marketing of, sales negotiation for, or performance under contracts for the provision of telecommunications services, or the establishment of facilities to provide telecommunications services.
  • Individuals regularly employed by a producer or distributer of agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices or an entity duly appointed to represent such a producer or distributer traveling incident to the commercial marketing, sales negotiation, accompanied delivery, or servicing in Cuba of such items.

Specific Licenses to Visit Close Relatives in Cuba who are non-Cuban nationals:

Travelers wishing to visit a close relative in Cuba who is authorized to be in Cuba, but is not a national of Cuba or a third country national residing in Cuba, may apply for a specific license from OFAC.

Specific Licenses for People to People Transactions: Specific licenses may be issued by OFAC to travelers involved in educational activities under the auspices of an organization that sponsors and organizes such programs to promote people-to-people contact but are not involved in academic study pursuant to a degree program.

Specific Licenses for Educational Institutions:

Specific licenses may be issued by OFAC to authorize travel transactions incident to an individual's educational activities of certain types. Once an academic institution has applied for and received such a specific license, travelers affiliated with that academic institution are authorized to engage in the following activities without seeking further authorization from OFAC.

  • Academic institutions may sponsor or co-sponsor academic seminars, conferences, and workshops related to Cuba or global issues involving Cuba and faculty, staff, and students may attend these events.
  • U.S. academic institutions may open accounts at Cuban financial institutions for the purpose of accessing funds in Cuba for transactions related to such events.

Specific Licenses for Religious Organizations:

Specific licenses may be issued by OFAC to religious organizations for travel related transactions incident to religious activities that are not authorized by the new general license. Licenses authorizing transactions for multiple trips over an extended period of time are available to applicants with plans to engage in a full-time program of religious activities in Cuba.

Religious travelers to Cuba should be aware that Cuban officials require specific authorization to travel to Cuba for religious purposes. Religious travelers to Cuba should contact the Cuban Interests Section regarding proper authorization to travel to Cuba for religious purposes and should wait for their response before traveling.

Other Specific Licenses:

Specific licenses may be issued by OFAC, on a case-by-case basis, authorizing travel transactions by the following categories of persons in connection with the following activities:

  • Humanitarian Projects and Support for the Cuban People - 1) Persons traveling in connection with activities that are intended to provide support for the Cuban people, such as activities of recognized human rights organizations; and 2) persons whose travel transactions are directly related to certain humanitarian projects in or related to Cuba that are designed to directly benefit the Cuban people. Licenses authorizing transactions for multiple trips over an extended period of time are available.
  • Free-Lance Journalism - Persons with a suitable record of publication who are traveling to Cuba to do research for free-lance journalistic projects. Licenses authorizing transactions for multiple trips over an extended period of time are available for applicants demonstrating a significant record of journalism.
  • Professional Research and Professional Meetings - Persons traveling to Cuba to do professional research or to attend a professional meeting that does not meet the requirements of the relevant general license (described above). Licenses authorizing transactions for multiple trips over an extended period of time are available.
  • Public Performances, Athletic or Other Competitions, and Exhibitions - Persons traveling to participate in a public performance, athletic or other competition or exhibition. The event must be open for attendance, and in relevant situations, participation by the Cuban public, and all profits from the event after costs must be donated to an independent nongovernmental organization in Cuba or a U.S.-based charity with the objective, to the extent possible, of benefiting the Cuban people.
  • Amateur or semi-professional athletes or teams traveling to participate in an athletic competition. The athletes must have been selected for the competition by the relevant U.S. sports federation, and the competition must be one that is open for attendance, and in relevant situations, participation by the Cuban people.
  • Clinic or Workshop Participants - Persons traveling to Cuba for the purpose of participating in a clinic or workshop that is being organized and run, at least in part, by the licensee.
  • Activities of Private Foundations or Research or Educational Institutions - Persons traveling to Cuba on behalf of private foundations or research or educational institutes that have an established interest in international relations to collect information related to Cuba for noncommercial purposes. Licenses authorizing transactions for multiple trips over an extended period of time are available.
  • Exportation, Importation, or Transmission of Information or Informational Materials - Persons traveling to engage in activities directly related to the exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials.
  • Licensed Exportation - Persons traveling to Cuba incident to marketing, sales negotiation, accompanied delivery, or servicing in Cuba of exports that appear consistent with the export or re-export policy of the Department of Commerce and are not authorized by the general licenses described above.

Applying for a Specific License:

Persons wishing to travel to Cuba under a specific license should send a letter specifying the details of the proposed travel, including any accompanying documentation, to the Licensing Division, Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of the Treasury, 1500 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20220. Academic institutions wishing to obtain one of the two-year specific licenses described above should send a letter to the same address requesting such a license and establishing that the institution is accredited by an appropriate national or regional accrediting association. Religious organizations wishing to obtain one of the specific licenses described above should send a letter to the same address requesting such a license and setting forth examples of religious activities to be undertaken in Cuba.

The United States maintains a broad embargo against trading with Cuba, and most commercial imports from Cuba are prohibited by law. Sales of items in certain sectors, including medicine, medical devices and supplies, and agricultural commodities, have been approved for export by specific legislation. The Department of the Treasury may issue licenses on a case-by-case basis authorizing Cuba travel-related transactions directly incident to marketing, sales negotiation, accompanied delivery, and servicing of exports and re-exports that appear consistent with the licensing policy of the Department of Commerce.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting:

Licensing Division
Office of Foreign Assets Control
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Treasury Annex
Washington, DC 20220
Telephone (202) 622-2480; 1-800-540-6322
Fax (202) 622-1657

Internet users can also log onto the Department of Treasury's OFAC website.

Civilian Aircraft Travel: The Cuban Air Force shot down two U.S.-registered civilian aircraft in international airspace in 1996. As a result of this action, the President of the United States and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an "Emergency Cease and Desist Order and Statement of Policy," which allows for vigorous enforcement action against U.S.-registered aircraft that violate Cuban airspace. For additional information on restrictions on aircraft flying between the United States and Cuba, see the FAA's web site.

For current information on Cuban entry and customs requirements, travelers should contact:

Cuban Interests Section (an office of the Cuban government)
2630 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
Telephone (202) 797-8518/8520
Fax (202) 797-8521

Consular Section (part of the Cuban Interests Section)
2639 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
Telephone (202) 797-8609/8610/8615
Fax (202) 986-7283}

Temporary Sojourn License:

Exports of aircraft or vessels on temporary sojourn to Cuba will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Temporary sojourn licenses are not available for pleasure boaters. Additional information is available at the Bureau of Industry and Security website. Vessels of the United States, as defined in 33 CFR ยง107.200, may not enter Cuban territorial waters without advance permission from the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard provides permission information at (305) 415-6920.

Source:U.S. Department of State

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IMPORTANT: The foreign entry requirements listed here were obtained from foreign embassies or consulates. This information is subject to change. Verify the data with the consular officials of the countries you plan to visit well in advance. For further information, see our embassy list.

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