On January 16, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the issuance of the agency’s eagerly anticipated amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), which are designed “to increase people-to-people contact, support civil society in Cuba, enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people, and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities.”

Among these amendments include the relaxation of restriction on credit and debit card use in Cuba and the importation of goods, and the modification of the CACR regarding authorization of transactions with Cuban nationals who have taken up permanent residence outside of Cuba, specifically:

  • Credit and Debit Cards/Importation of Goods: U.S. credit and debit cards can now be used in Cuba for travel-related and other transactions, and U.S. banks can sign up merchants for credit card acceptance in Cuba and process these transactions.  In addition, the per diem limitation on authorized travelers’ spending in Cuba has been eliminated, and travelers can import up to $400 worth of goods from Cuba (including up to $100 in alcohol or tobacco products).
  • Third-Country Effects: U.S. owned or controlled entities in third countries can now provide goods and services to Cuban nationals in third countries, provided that the transaction does not involve a direct or indirect commercial exportation of goods or services to or from Cuba.  While Cuban nationals located outside of Cuba are still considered blocked, OFAC has unblocked the accounts of Cuban nationals who can prove that they established permanent residency outside of Cuba.  In addition, OFAC has issued two new general licenses in connection with third-country activities.  These licenses authorize U.S. persons to sponsor and participate in third-country conferences that are attended by Cuban nationals, and to provide goods and services to Cuban sailors that are sequestered aboard ships in U.S. ports.

For more information about the CACR amendments, click here.