Common Ground Education & Travel Services

Jan 16, 2015 by

Friends,
Here it is: the new Cuba travel regulations are out.  Restrictions on what you can and cannot do are still in place (as is the embargo) but it is the easiest it’s ever been to go to Cuba since 1961.  Send us an email: info@commongroundtravel.com or give us a call: 954-620-7042 and as always, we’ll help you make your arrangements, as an individual or joining a group.I just got back from Cuba myself today. Cuba is still Cuba but be prepared: the hotels in Cuba already are overbooked.  We can now book and you can prepay private homes though the process is still a little bumpy.  As you’ll read below it’s still charter flights only from the U.S. plus the flights from Canada, Mexico and elsewhere.  The flights are quite full so plan ahead.  And of course the Cuban regulations and visa requirements haven’t changed, so any questions on that be sure to ask.

Now here’s the first official publication from OFAC of the new regs (more to follow shortly).  Scroll through the various categories to see what applies to you and what’s new.

By the way, if you want to travel with a group, we are working with several interesting people to people, educational and professional projects over the coming months.  Get in touch.  And note the new information about attending conferences — we’ll be publishing a list of upcoming conferences shortly.

Highlights from:Frequently Asked Questions Related to Cuba, January 15, 2015

published at 

www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_new.pdf

 

What are the travel changes to the Cuba program?

OFAC has issued general licenses within the 12 categories of authorized travel for many travel-related transactions to, from, or within Cuba that previously required a specificlicense (i.e., an application and a case-by-case determination).

Travel-related transactions are permitted by general license for certain travel related to the following activities, subject to criteria and conditions in each general license:

  • family visits;
  • official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations;
  • journalistic activity;
  • professional research and professional meetings;
  • educational activities;
  • religious activities;
  • public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions;
  • support for the Cuban people;
  • humanitarian projects;
  • activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes

Do travelers who fall within the scope of a general license need to submit a written request to OFAC for permission to travel or conduct transactions?
No.  No further permission from OFAC is required to engage in transactions by a person who meets all criteria in a general license. Individuals wishing to engage in activities that may fall within the scope of a general license should review the relevant general licenses contained in the CACR to determine whether their travel-related transactions are covered by such general licenses. Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction who wish to engage in any travel within the 12 categories of activities specified in the CACR that does not meet the requirements of a general license will need to apply for a specific license from OFAC.

Is travel to Cuba for tourist activities permitted?
No. Consistent with the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000
(TSRA), travel-related transactions involving Cuba are only permitted for the 12
categories of activities identified in the CACR. Travel-related transactions for other
purposes remain prohibited.

What constitutes “a close relative” for generally authorized family travel?
OFAC regulations generally authorize U.S. persons and those sharing a dwelling with
them as a family to visit a close relative in Cuba, including a close relative who is a
Cuban national or ordinarily resident there, who is a U.S. Government official on official government business, or who is a student or faculty member engaging in authorized educational activities in Cuba with a duration of over 60 days. A close relative is defined as 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.” For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.339 and § 515.561.

Who is generally authorized to engage in travel and travel-related transactions for “journalistic activity”?
OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior specific licensing
policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are directly incident to journalistic activities in Cuba. Among other things, this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, full-time journalists, supporting broadcast or technical personnel, and freelance journalists to travel to Cuba. The traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule. An entire group does not qualify for the general license merely because some members of the group qualify individually. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.563.

What constitutes generally authorized travel-related transactions for “professional research” and “professional meetings” in Cuba?
OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior specific licensing
policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and
other transactions that are directly incident to professional research in Cuba. Among
other things, this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
professional research in Cuba relating to a traveler’s profession, professional background, or area of expertise. The traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule. An entire group does not qualify for the general license merely because some members of the group qualify individually. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.564

OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior specific licensing
policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and
other transactions that are directly incident to professional meetings in Cuba. Among
other things, this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
professional meetings or conferences in Cuba relating to a traveler’s profession,
professional background, or area of expertise, provided that the purpose of the meeting or conference is not the promotion of tourism in Cuba. Travel in this category is generally licensed provided that the traveler’s schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule. An entire group does not qualify for the general license merely because some members of the group qualify individually. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.564.

What constitutes “educational activities” for generally authorized travel?
OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior specific licensing
policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and
other transactions that are directly incident to certain educational activities in Cuba.
Among other things, this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
faculty, staff, and students at U.S. academic institutions and secondary schools to engage in certain educational activities in Cuba, Cuban scholars to engage in certain educational activities in the United States, certain activities to facilitate licensed educational programs, and certain people-to-people travel. An entire group does not qualify for the general license merely because some members of the group qualify individually. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.565.

Are secondary schools and secondary school students permitted to engage in travel related transactions under the general license for “educational activities”?
Yes. Educational exchanges sponsored by Cuban or U.S. secondary schools involving
secondary school students’ participation in a formal course of study or in a structured
educational program offered by a secondary school or other academic institution, and led by a teacher or other secondary school official, are authorized under this general license. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.565 (a)(6). This provision allows for participation of a reasonable number of adult chaperones to accompany the secondary school student(s) to Cuba.

What constitutes “people-to-people travel” for generally authorized travel?
OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates prior specific licensing policy and
authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and other
transactions that are directly incident to people-to-people educational activities in Cuba.

Among other things, this general license authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions,
persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to engage in certain educational exchanges in Cuba
under the auspices of an organization that is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction and
sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. Additionally, an
employee, paid consultant, or agent of the sponsoring organization must accompany eachgroup traveling to Cuba to ensure the full-time schedule of educational exchange
activities, and the predominant portion of the activities must not be with individuals or
entities acting for or on behalf of a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, as
defined in 31 CFR § 515.337, or a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, asdefined in 31 CFR § 515.338. For a complete description of what this general license
authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.565(b).

Who is generally authorized to engage in travel-related transactions for “religiousactivities”?
OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior specific licensing
policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and
other transactions that are directly incident to religious activities in Cuba. All persons
subject to U.S. jurisdiction, including religious organizations located in the United Statesand members and staff of such organizations, are generally authorized to engage intravel-related transactions that are directly incident to engaging in religious activities in Cuba provided, among other things, that the travel must be for the purpose of engaging in a program of religious activities. The traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.566.

What constitutes “public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other
competitions, and exhibitions” for generally authorized travel?
OFAC has issued an expanded general license that incorporates prior specific licensing
policy and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and
other transactions that are directly incident to participation in amateur and semiprofessional international sports federation competitions as well as other athletic and other competitions and public performances, clinics, workshops, and exhibitions in Cuba. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.567.

What constitutes “support for the Cuban people” for generally authorized travel and other transactions?
OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates prior specific licensing policy and
authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and other
transactions that are intended to provide support for the Cuban people, which include
activities of recognized human rights organizations; independent organizations designed to promote a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy; and individuals and nongovernmental organizations that promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. The traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.574.

What constitutes “humanitarian projects” for generally authorized travel and other transactions?
OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates prior specific licensing policy and
authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and other
transactions that are related to humanitarian projects in or related to Cuba. These
authorized humanitarian projects include medical and health-related projects;
construction projects intended to benefit legitimately independent civil society groups;
environmental projects; projects involving formal or non-formal educational training,
within Cuba or off-island, on the following topics: entrepreneurship and business, civil
education, journalism, advocacy and organizing, adult literacy, or vocational skills;
community-based grassroots projects; projects suitable to the development of small-scale private enterprise; projects that are related to agricultural and rural development that promote independent activity; microfinancing projects, except for loans, extensions of credit, or other financing prohibited by 31 C.F.R. § 515.208; and projects to meet basic human needs. The traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.575.

What constitutes “activities of private foundations or research or educational
institutes” for generally authorized travel?
OFAC has issued a general license that incorporates previous specific licensing policy
and authorizes, subject to appropriate conditions, travel-related transactions and other
transactions that are directly incident to activities by private foundations or research or
educational institutes with an established interest in international relations to collect
information related to Cuba for noncommercial purposes, among other things. The
traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.576.

Are there any spending limits for authorized U.S. travelers while in Cuba?

The per diem rate previously imposed no longer applies, and there is no specific dollar

limit on authorized expenses. Authorized travelers may engage in transactions ordinarily incident to travel within Cuba, including payment of living expenses and the acquisition in Cuba of goods for personal consumption there; other expenditures, other than those directly incident to the traveler’s authorized activities in Cuba, are not authorized. In addition, travelers are authorized to acquire in Cuba and import as accompanied baggage into the United States merchandise with a value not to exceed $400 per person, provided that no more than $100 of the merchandise consists of alcohol or tobacco products and the merchandise is imported for personal use only.

 

Can I purchase Cuban-origin cigars and/or Cuban-origin rum or other alcohol
while traveling in Cuba?
Persons authorized to travel to Cuba may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption while there. Authorized travelers may return to the
United States with up to $100 worth of alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba in accompanied baggage, for personal use only.
Can I purchase Cuban-origin cigars and/or Cuban-origin rum or other Cuban origin alcohol over the internet or while in a third country (i.e., not Cuba)?
No. These transactions remain prohibited, and OFAC has not issued any general license
that would authorize them.

So these are the highlights of the new U.S. travel regulations.  As always, we look forward to helping you with your travel plans for Cuba. 

Merri Ansara, Debbie Ledesma, Tony Diaz, Fatima Jimenez

 

Common Ground Education & Travel Services

Easthampton, Massachusetts and Hollywood, Florida

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