Below is a summary of some of the US Department of Treasury/OFAC regulations that apply to US travel to Cuba. This summary is for informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon in making travel decisions or arrangements to Cuba. For more information on the regulations, visit the US Department of Treasury’s website or contact us at 1-718-478-4323.
In general, US citizens are not permitted to travel to Cuba, unless they travel under a “specific” or “general” license pursuant to US Treasury/OFAC regulations. Violating the US Treasury/OFAC’s regulations can result in up to $250,000 in criminal penalties for individuals and civil penalties of up to $65,000 per violation.
Specific License. A specific license from OFAC requires an application to OFAC for consideration on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the facts and circumstances, one may apply for a specific license for travel to Cuba in the following situations:
A. Educational activities
- Participation in a structured educational program
- Noncommercial, Cuba-related academic research
- Participation in a formal course of study at a Cuban academic institution
- Teaching at a Cuban academic institution
- Sponsorship of a Cuban scholar
- Organization of and preparation for the educational activities described above
B. Religious activities – OFAC may issue specific licenses to religious organizations to authorize individuals affiliated with the organization to engage in travel transactions under the auspices of the religious organization.
C. Humanitarian projects and support for the Cuban people
D. Freelance journalism
E. Professional research and professional meetings
F. Public performances, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
G. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutions
H. Activities related to the exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
I. Activities related to U.S. exportations to Cuba
J. Persons visiting “close relatives” who are neither Cuban nationals nor U.S. government employees assigned to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba
General License. A general license does not require an application to OFAC, but travelers do need to be sure that this is an appropriate license for their situation. Additional documentation and visas may also be required in connection with a general license. Some circumstances in which a general license may be appropriate include:
A. Persons visiting “close relatives”* who are nationals of Cuba
B. Persons visiting “close relatives”* who are U.S. Government employees assigned to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba
C. Journalists and support personnel
D. Official U.S. and foreign government travelers (traveling on official business)
E. Officials of intergovernmental organizations of which the United States is a member (traveling on official business)
F. Full-time professionals engaging in travel related to:
- Professional research
- Professional meetings organized by an international professional organization
G. Employees of a U.S. telecommunications services provider or an entity representing such a provider
H. Employees of a producer or distributor of agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices or an entity representing such a firm
*“Close relatives” is a term defined by OFAC regulations. Contact World Travel Service for more information on relatives that qualify.