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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Additional information may be obtained by contacting:
Office of Foreign Assets Control
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
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 §107.200, 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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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