What is legal Cuba travel, how does it work, who is in charge?
The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) enforces Cuba travel regulations. OFAC allows twelve categories under which Americans can legally visit Cuba without any government documentation or permission in advance. The twelve categories are known as “general license” travel.
There is no actual license or paper issued. It is an honor system. If the purpose of your Cuba travel falls under any of the twelve pre-approved Cuba travel categories, you can hop on a plane and visit Cuba. It’s that simple.
What are the 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba?
1-Support for the Cuban People (the most popular category for American travelers)
2-Educational Activities (study abroad for students, teachers, and school staff)
3-Professional Research and Professional Meetings
4-Public Performances, Clinics, Workshops, Athletic and other competitions and Exhibitions
5-Journalistic Activity (for electronic and print media reporters)
8-Family Visits (connecting with close relatives in Cuba)
9-Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
10-Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
11-Certain authorized export transactions (for businesses and NGOs)
12-Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
Learn more about Cuba travel regulations with the following frequently asked questions in the following link: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_new.pdf
If your trip does not apply within a general license, you can apply for a specific license through the following link: https://licensing.ofac.treas.gov/Apply/Introduction.aspx
Important rules for legal Cuba travel. Tourist trips are strictly prohibited.
1-While in Cuba, your activities must focus on full-time engagement in the theme of the category of travel you choose.
2-Purely touristic travel such as sunning on Cuba’s sugary white sand beaches, swimming in its crystal-clear warm waters, and lounging about all day sipping mojitos, is strictly forbidden.
3-Don’t stay in Cuban hotels restricted by the Department of State. See the list of prohibited hotels in the following link: https://www.state.gov/cuba-sanctions/cuba-restricted-list/
If you are a citizen or resident in the United States of America, your trips must be sponsored by a North American tour operator. If you do not live in the U.S. but are traveling to Cuba from a United States port or airport, you must also comply with the current regulations of the United States Department of the Treasury.