Above: Havana, Cuba
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Following this month’s historic thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States, the US government has announced a series of diplomatic and economic changes.
Those changes include major shifts to the regulations governing travel to Cuba, although it does not mean full, unencumbered travel to the Caribbean island.
So what do they mean?
There are currently 12 categories of authorized, or legal, travel to Cuba for American citizens.
Previously, anyone seeking to travel under these categories, which range from journalistic activity to humanitarian projects to educational experiences, had to make an application to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The changes mean that now no application is necessary for these kinds of trips.
The changes also mean that travelers will now be allowed to use US credit and debit cards in Cuba, and that there is no specific dollar limit on authorized expenses in Cuba.
“Authorized travelers will be allowed to engage in transactions ordinarily incident to travel within Cuba, including payment of living expenses and the acquisition in Cuba of goods for personal consumption there,” the Treasury Department said.
Travelers will also be able to import up to $400 worth of goods acquired in Cuba for personal use, with a maximum of $100 of alcohol or tobacco products.
And travel agents and airlines will be authorized to provide authorized travel and air carrier services without the need for a specific OFAC license as well.
“We firmly believe that allowing increased travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba will allow the United States to better advance our interests and improve the lives of ordinary Cubans,” said Josh Earnest, US President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary. “Today, the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Commerce took a significant step forward in delivering on the President’s new direction by publishing regulatory amendments to existing Cuba sanctions. These changes will immediately enable the American people to provide more resources to empower the Cuban population to become less dependent upon the state-driven economy, and help facilitate our growing relationship with the Cuban people.”
These are the kinds of travel that don’t require a license: