Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is based on industry practices and standard interpretations of OFAC rules and does not constitute legal advice. For more information call OFAC at 202-622-2480
NOTICE REGARDING TRUMP'S NEW CUBA POLICY (updated 11/8/17):
KEEP CALM AND GO TO CUBA, it's still legal!
OFAC has issued the new regulations with an effective date of November 9, 2017. Please see their FAQ page for additional information - here we summarize key points of the new regulations.
1) The new regulations will eliminate the "People to People for Individuals" general license, however, these activities are still legal under SUPPORT FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE provided that you use private businesses (e.g. Bed & Breakfasts, private restaurants), maintain a full schedule of meaningful activities, and do not have transactions with prohibited entities.
We are there to meet you at the airport and arrange for your stay in Cuba. We do not use any government related businesses and you will be literally "Supporting the Cuban People" by supporting our team and the local people and places you visit while in Cuba. We are aware of the prohibited businesses and will police that for you. You will be staying in private Casa Particulars and have no concern that you are doing any thing against the new regulations. Our goal is to show you and your friends the culture and history of this great country. You visiting this great country is supporting the Cuban people you come in contact with.
2) You will no stay in hotels or eat in restaurants or purchase other services from companies owned by the military.
We do not use any government companies.
All of our tours are appropriate under Support for the Cuban People as long as you maintain the required documentation.
How to Travel with a General License
Travel with a general license is easy! You DO NOT submit an application to a government agency, it is simply a matter of stating that your travel is legal under one of the 12 categories of allowable travel to Cuba. Make sure that you are not violating the law by parking yourself at an all-inclusive though; you must have a meaningful purpose for your visit to Cuba.
Here is how to do it:
Step 1: Pick Your Category
Support for the Cuban people by human rights organizations, independent organizations, individuals, and NGOs. This is the category that allows individuals to travel legally, as long as they use private businesses and maintain a full schedule of meaningful activities (§515.574). See previous section for examples of this category.
Step 2: Create Your License
To create your license, you can either go online and find a generic affidavit to fill out the Copa Airline PDF located below.
Dates of travel High level purpose of travel Specific category of general license (use the code citation) Signature and date. Here is a great affidavit that is from Copa Airlines. Please check the box #8 and have this on you when returning to the USA.
You do not need it to be notarized. While the regulations don't have specific documentation requirements- there is no actual paper "license" per se, it may be difficult to explain that to a customs official who asks to see it. It is better to have some paper to show them, and this letter or affidavit should be sufficient.
Step 3: Document Your Travel
OFAC requires that you maintain specific records of your travel to Cuba, regardless of whether you are traveling under a license or not, and to keep these records for 5 years in the (highly unlikely!) event that OFAC requests to see them. Hang on to any documents relating to transactions or purchases you make relating to your trip to Cuba (e.g. receipts for flights or accommodations), along with any itineraries and other support for your purpose for travel.
We at OUT IN CUBA will assist you in the documentation. Our tours are all under the above regulations.
Step 4: Return to the US
You don't need to worry about showing your license anywhere except the US when returning from your trip. Other countries aren't in the practice of enforcing the US travel embargo, so don't expect anyone in Cuba, Mexico, Canada, etc. to have any idea of what you're talking about if you mention the license. When you fill out your customs/immigration form when returning home, you can write "Cuba (under general license §515.574)" in the "Countries Visited" section. Most of the time they don't even look at these forms, but if you are asked where you've been, you can freely admit that you were in Cuba. You only need to show your license if an official asks to see it. It would be very rare for them to ask to see your license, unless you are bringing back tobacco. If you received a passport stamp in Cuba, don't worry- you are traveling legally!