U.S. Easing Restrictions on Travel and Exports to Cuba

Effective January 16th the U.S. is easing restrictions on Americans’ travel and exports to Cuba.[1]

Under the new regulations, Americans will now be allowed to travel to Cuba for any of the following specific reasons without first obtaining a special license from the U.S. government:

  • 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 information materials; and
  • certain authorized export transactions.

Airlines and travel agents will be allowed to provide service to Cuba without a specific license.

Travelers will be permitted to use credit cards and spend money while in the country and bring back up to $400 in souvenirs, including up to $100 in alcohol or tobacco. In addition, Americans will be allowed to send more money to Cubans, up to $2,000 every three months instead of the $500 currently permitted.

The new regulations will also make it easier for U.S. telecommunications providers and financial institutions to do business with Cuba.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, whose department oversees sanctions policy, said in a statement, “These changes will have a direct impact in further engaging and empowering the Cuban people, promoting positive change for Cuba’s citizens. The amended regulations also will facilitate authorized business for U.S. exporters and enhance communications and commerce between Cuba and the United States.  To the extent legally possible, the President has made clear that we want U.S. policy to ease the burdens on the Cuban citizens we seek to help.”

“Cuba has real potential for economic growth and by increasing travel, commerce, communications, and private business development between the United States and Cuba, the United States can help the Cuban people determine their own future.”

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker issued a similar statement with respect to changed regulations from her department. She said, “our regulations will change export policy and authorize the flow of certain goods and services to Cuba without a license, to spur private sector activity and encourage entrepreneurship in Cuba. These are smart changes in America’s outdated policy that will help the Cuban people realize an improved standard of living, greater economic independence, and increased prosperity.”

====================================================

[1] This post is based on U.S. Dep’t of Treasury, FACT SHEET: Treasury and Commerce Announce Regulatory Amendments to the Cuba Sanctions (Jan. 15, 2015); U.S. Dep’t of Treasury, Statement of Secretary Lew on Amendments to the Cuban Asset Control Regulations (Jan. 15, 2015); U.S. Dep’t of Commerce, Statement from U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker on New Commerce Department Regulations Changing U.S. Export Policy on Cuba (Jan. 15, 2015); Baker, U.S. Easing Decades-Old Restrictions on Travel to Cuba, N.Y. Times (Jan. 15, 2015).