How New U.S.-Cuba Policy May Affect Your Travel and Business Plans


CubanTravelNewRules-300x200The U.S. Treasury Department issued new clarifications on Tuesday on measures that will take effect for business, remittances, and travel with Cuba following President Donald Trump’s June announcement regarding U.S. policy towards the island.

The document, released by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), includes answers to 14 frequently asked questions from business owners, travelers, and the general public about the changes Trump proclaimed in Miami on June 16.

Travelers won’t be affected until the new regulations are published

When Trump announced his new policy for Cuba, OFAC said that the only travel category affected by the new directive for U.S. travelers was the individual people-to-people trips which fall under the “educational activities” category. White House officials said the category was ripe for abuse by people seeking to travel to Cuba purely for tourism, which is prohibited.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, there are now 12 categories of authorized travel for U.S. citizens to visit Cuba. These are “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; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and certain authorized export transactions.” Tourism is not on the list, but certified group tours can fall under the “educational activities” category.

OFAC’s new publication makes it clear that U.S. travelers may continue individual people-to-people trips to the island as long as they completed at least one travel-related transaction (accommodation or airline booking, etc.) before the official announcement was made on June 16. Travel under that category will be suspended once the new rules are published.

The document also says: “The new policy will also impact certain categories of educational travel as well as travel under support for the Cuban people,” which means travel under the “support for the Cuban people” category may also be eliminated, but it is unclear why OFAC has chosen to suspend that category.

Group people-to-people trips that fall under educational activities will still be authorized under the new rules but only if travelers maintain “a full-time schedule of educational activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuba people” and are accompanied by an employee, consultant, or agent from an authorized entity.

Established business operations won’t be affected

U.S. companies that have established commercial operations and contractual agreements with Cuban government entities will be allowed to continue with their transactions. The Trump administration does not want to negatively impact U.S. companies “engaging in lawful commercial opportunities” even with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services—for now. After the new regulations are issued, the State Department will publish a list of Cuban entities with which direct transactions will be prohibited.

Remittances won’t be affected by the new regulations, but Trump signed a list of prohibited persons made up of members and employees of many Cuban government entities who will be barred from receiving remittances. Air and cruise travel also won’t be affected by the new regulations.

OFAC expects to release the new regulations in the coming months, but it not specify an exact date. Until then, Obama-era policies on Cuba remain in effect. The new and updated FAQ on Cuba can be viewed here.

Source: OFAC Frequently Asked Questions on President Trump’s Cuba Announcement.pdf