Cuba Travel Restrictions

Cuba Travel Restrictions – In General

Cuba Travel Restrictions

As you know – the US has had an embargo with Cuba for over 50 years.  This means we US citizens, in the land of the free, cannot travel freely or do business with the Cuban Government.  The US Treasury Department is the enforcing agent of the embargo through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).  There are a number of ways in which you can travel to Cuba legally.  OFAC issues specific licenses for various authorized activities.  One of these activities is “athletic competition” between amateurs or semi pro teams.  With this license, we are restricted to the activities of the license and the amount of money we can spend.

In January, 2015 – the US announced sweeping changes to the licensing rules with Cuba.  Simply stated, there is no longer a requirement to apply for and obtain a “specific” license prior to travel to Cuba. If the traveler meets one of the so-called categories of travel, then the traveler is deemed to have met the “general” license requirement. Further, there is no restriction on the amount of money we can spend.

Click here for the link to the various “categories of travel.”

Also noted below is a variety of information on license and travel restrictions with a comparison of the “old” and the “new” rules.

Requirements for the License

Historically, our baseball trips have been granted a “specific” license per the terms of 31 CFR section 515.567(b).  In the past, before January 16, 2015, there was an “application” process in order to obtain this specific license.  Frequently it would take months to obtain it; in some cases, literally “days” before the departure date of the trip.  Fortunately, what is now required is that the travelers determine for themselves if they qualify for a “general” license under one or more of the various “categories” authorized for travel to Cuba.  I have no doubt our trip qualifies under the general license for the athletic competitions.

31 C.F.R. § 515.567(b) Public Performances, Clinics, Workshops, Other Athletic or Non-Athletic Competitions, and Exhibitions

The travel-related transactions and such other transactions as are directly incident to participation in a public performance, clinic, workshop, athletic competition not covered by paragraph (a) of this section, non-athletic competition, or exhibition in Cuba by participants in such activities are authorized, provided that:

  • The event is open for attendance, and in relevant situations participation, by the Cuban public.
  • All U.S. profits from the event after costs are donated to an independent nongovernmental organization in Cuba or a U.S. based charity, with the objective, to the extent possible, of promoting people to people contacts or otherwise benefiting the Cuban people; and

Any clinics or workshops in Cuba must be organized and run, at least in part, by the authorized traveler.

Travel Restrictions — What You Can Do — What You Can Bring Back — Etc.

Spending Limit:

Old Rule: You can only spend $175/day. Your lodging and food is included in this figure.
New Rule: there is no limit on spending.

Expenses Limit:

Old Rule: Expenses for baseball actives are in addition to the daily per diem of $175.
New Rule: still the same, but there is no per diem – i.e., no spending limit.

Keep Records for 5 Years:

Old Rule:  You are required to keep an account of your spending.  You should keep this for at least 5 years as you may be audited by OFAC.
New Rule: No change, you must keep those records for at least 5 years.

Import Publications, Posters, etc.:

Old Rule: You may purchase in Cuba, and import into the US an unlimited amount of publications, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, microfilms, microfiches, tapes, compact disks, CD ROMs, artwork or other information material provided it is accompanied baggage and not commercial quantities.  Travelers may take additional money needed specifically for this purpose.
New Rule: same.

No Import of Cigars & Rum:

Old Rule: You are not allowed to import Cuban tobacco or alcohol. In January 2015, you were permitted to bring merchandise, as accompanied baggage acquired in Cuba, not to exceed $400 in value, including no more than $100 in alcohol and tobacco products
New Rule:  In October 2016, the U.S. Treasury Dept. removed the limits above.  And while the new ease in restrictions means that the number of personal cigars is technically unlimited, there is still an amount of duty that will have to be paid after a certain quantity is exceeded. Also, Cuba Customs (Aduana) imposes restrictions as well. See our FAQ’s #3  for more information.

No US Credit Cards:

Old Rule:  You could not use your US based credit cards.
New Rule: You are permitted to use your US based credit cards.

No Travel to Lay on the Beach:

Old Rule: not permitted.
New Rule: no change; not permitted.  You must fit within one of the one of the categories of authorized travel.

Additional Information

For additional information, here are LINKS to a variety of off-site sources: