From OFAC FAQ about Cuba travel changes effective Jan 16, 2015

Jan 15, 2015 by



The full FAQ published by OFAC today are attached describing the 12 categories of general licensed travel in quite a bit of detail. They are to go into effect tomorrow after publication in the Federal Register. Travel providers are still required to maintain certifications that the travel qualifies under licensed or unlicensed travel if you travel from the U.S. and banks are NOT REQUIRED to allow their credit cards to be used in Cuba.

3. Are sanctions on Cuba still in place following the President’s announcement on December 17, 2014?
Yes, the Cuba embargo remains in place. Most transactions between the United States, or persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and Cuba continue to be prohibited, and OFAC continues to enforce the prohibitions of the CACR. These changes are targeted to further engage and empower the Cuban people by facilitating authorized travel to Cuba by U.S. persons, certain authorized commerce, and the flow of information to, from, and within Cuba.

7. 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.

20. Can I purchase a ticket to Cuba directly from an airline based or operating out of the United States?

If you are traveling to Cuba pursuant to a general or specific license issued by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) then, as had been the case under the previous regulations for purchasing charter air transportation, you would purchase your air travel through a tour operator. At this time, only charter service is available. While the new OFAC regulations will no longer preclude scheduled operations, the U.S. Department of Transportation will establish procedures for restoration of scheduled service. Once scheduled service is restored, passengers purchasing a ticket for scheduled service to Cuba will be able to purchase their ticket directly from the airline offering the service. Airlines and travelers are responsible for maintaining records of their Cuba-related transactions for at least five years. [emphasis added – cl]

27. Are airlines and travel service providers required to verify that an individual traveler is authorized to travel to Cuba?

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction providing authorized carrier or travel services must retain for at least five years from the date of the transaction a certification from each customer indicating the provision of the CACR that authorizes the person to travel to Cuba. In the case of a customer traveling under a specific license, a copy of the license must be maintained on file. The names and addresses of individual travelers must also be maintained on file for at least five years. See 31 CFR § 515.572(b).

30. Are authorized travelers in Cuba permitted to use credit or debit cards issued by a U.S. financial institution?

Yes. Travelers are advised to check with their financial institution before traveling to Cuba to determine whether the institution has established the necessary mechanisms for its credit or debit cards to be used in Cuba. See 31 CFR § 515.560(c)(5) and 515.584(c).

31. Can my bank refuse to allow me to use my credit or debit card in Cuba?
OFAC regulations do not require financial institutions or credit card companies to accept, maintain, or facilitate authorized financial relationships or transactions. (emphasis added – cl)

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