Travel to Cuba without the need to apply to the US government for authorization
Under U.S. regulations, there are several general authorizations, called General Licenses, that authorize U.S. travelers to travel to Cuba without the need to apply to the government for authorization. In order to travel under one of these General Licenses, the U.S. travelers must satisfy certain requirements.
One of the most commonly used authorizations is for “group people-to-people” travel under the auspices of a U.S. organization such as Caribbean Travel Network Inc. More information about “group people-to-people” is provided below.
The other categories of authorized travel are:
- Family Visits
- Professional Research and Professional Meetings
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions and exhibitions
- Educational Activities, other than group people-to-people travel
- Journalistic Activity
- Religious Activities
- Support for the Cuban People
- Humanitarian Projects
- Activities for private foundations or research or educational institutes
- Official business of the U.S. Government, foreign government, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and Exportation of BIS Authorized or Licensed Goods
Individuals traveling under one of these categories are responsible for making certain they satisfy all the U.S. regulatory requirements for the General License for that category.
Information about all of these General Licenses, and their requirements, can be found on the website for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC is responsible for administering the U.S. regulations concerning Cuba.
A complete list of the requirements for each General License is located in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515, which can be accessed at www.ecfr.gov.
When booking with Cuba Travel Network, U.S. citizens are required to sign a Certificate indicating the purpose of travel, under one of the mentioned categories.
What is group people-to-people travel?
Individuals are authorized to travel to Cuba under a General License (general authorization) for “group people-to-people” travel if they, travel under the auspices of a U.S. organization, such as Caribbean Travel Network Inc (Cuba Travel Network), and they adhere to Caribbean Travel Network Inc’s full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba and which are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities. The U.S. organization must also have a tour escort accompany each program.
Individuals used to be able to travel on their own under the People-to-People General License; however, on June 16, 2017, President Trump announced the end of this individual people-to-people travel, which will likely take effect in the next several months. Once this takes effect, U.S. travelers traveling under the popular people-to-people category must travel under the auspices of a U.S. organization, such as Caribbean Travel Network Inc (Cuba Travel Network).
The predominant portion of the activities cannot be with certain high-ranking officials of the Government of Cuba or certain prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party.
Persons relying on this authorization must bring a copy of their Certification and Caribbean Travel Network Inc (Cuba Travel Network) itinerary with them and maintain these records, as well as any other record related to the program, for 5 years. These records must be furnished to the Office of Foreign Assets Control on demand.
For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.565(b).
What is the general license for “public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions"?
OFAC has issued a general license that authorizes travel to Cuba in order to participate in or organize a public performance, clinic, workshop, non-athletic competition, or exhibition in Cuba, provided that the event is open for attendance, and in relevant situations participation, by the Cuban public. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, please see 31 CFR § 515.567.