US Department of the Treasury's issues an update regarding Cuba travel-related transactions

Posted: 14-Jan-16 17:44

The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control have recently updated their list of frequently asked questions to add a new response to the inquiry of whether financial institutions have to independently verify if a traveller is authorised to go into Cuba when processing Cuba travel-related transactions.

US Department of the Treasury's issues an update  regarding Cuba travel-related transactions

One of the frequently asked questions regarding travel from the United States into Cuba is whether a financial institution is required to independently verify if one has been authorised to travel to the island when they are processing Cuba travel-related transactions.

A clear and straightforward answer to this question was recently added to the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) FAQ list at number 52. The answer is that such a measure is no longer necessary. To quote the document,

"A financial institution may rely on U.S. travellers to provide their certifications of authorized travel directly to the person providing travel or carrier services when processing Cuba travel-related transactions, unless the financial institution knows or has reason to know that the travel is not authorized by a general or specific license."

The Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) stipulate that providers of travel or carrier services within US jurisdiction must retain the authorisation certification provided by the traveller for at least five years. The CACR also requires travellers using a general or specific license to themselves retain records documenting their travel to Cuba for five years.

In light of the recent advancement of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US, many people presume that Americans can now freely travel in and out of the Caribbean island. However, the trade and travel restrictions put in place by the US government during the days of the Cold War are still in place. They have, however, been modified significantly since the lines of communication between the two countries reopened in earnest in 17th December 2014.

While previously you had to apply for a specific authorisation license when travelling to Cuba, now you can apply for a general license. There are 12 categories of general licenses for which application is pretty much straightforward including family visits, attending public performances (for cultural reasons), religious activities, humanitarian projects and journalistic activity. Travel for touristic purposes is still not authorised hence is not among the categories listed. Travel bloggers can still qualify for a license as journalists but for those who plan to travel with a group, it must be noted that each member will have to apply and qualify as an individual.

Another sign of the progress made in doing away with the 55-year-old travel embargo is the fact that soon US travellers will be able to book a direct commercial flight to Cuba. With the positive way in which relations between the US and Cuba are progressing, and the surmounting pressure from tour operators in the US urging for current travel restrictions to be fully discarded, it is hoped that these will be completely done away with in the coming months.


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