Following the United States’ recent easing of sanctions against Cuba, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has released additional guidance on travel between the two countries. The guidance is particularly relevant to companies authorized to provide carrier services via aircraft or commercial passenger vessels. According to the guidance, the following individuals may be transported between the United States and Cuba:

  • Persons authorized to travel to and from Cuba under the 12 categories delineated in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) (for a description of the 12 categories, click here), or who have otherwise obtained a specific license from OFAC.
  • Cuban nationals seeking to be admitted to the United States, as well as third-country nationals, with a valid visa or travel authorization from the U.S. government.
  • Cuban nationals in the United States in a non-immigrant status.
  • Cuban nationals residing in the United States who are licensed as unblocked nationals and are authorized to travel to Cuba pursuant to either a general license (under the 12 delineated categories) or specific license issued by OFAC.
  • Persons, including foreign nationals, who are travelling on official business of the U.S. government, a foreign government, or an intergovernmental organization of which the United States is a member or holds observer status, as well as close relatives accompanying such persons.

Companies authorized to provide these carrier services are also authorized to transport cargo and baggage accompanying authorized travelers to Cuba, as well as cargo or unaccompanied baggage, provided that the export of such items is authorized by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).

In addition, the guidance also provides that persons authorized to travel from Cuba directly to the United States may carry the following items as accompanied baggage:

  • For persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, such as U.S. citizens and residents, up to $400 worth of merchandise acquired in Cuba for personal use, provided that no more than $100 of the merchandise consists of alcohol or tobacco products.
  • For foreign nationals, any Cuban-origin goods other than alcohol or tobacco products in non-commercial quantities and that are not imported for resale, and up to $100 worth of alcohol and tobacco products acquired in Cuba for personal use.
  • Goods produced by identified Cuban entrepreneurs.
  • For persons who traveled from the United to Cuba and are now returning to the United States, any items temporarily exported to Cuba pursuant to a license from BIS or another U.S. government agency.

Importantly, companies authorized to provide carrier services via aircraft or commercial passenger vessels must retain, for at least five years from the date of the transaction, a certification from each customer indicating the section of the CACR, or the specific license, that authorizes the person’s travel to Cuba.