Travel to Cuba
Why Is Travel to Cuba Banned?
In 1962, President Kennedy issued an executive order imposing a trade embargo against Cuba. This order has since been solidified in the form of U.S. federal regulations and statutes. In general, U.S. citizens are prohibited from engaging in any economic relations with the government of Cuba or Cuban nationals. As a result, most forms of travel to the country are prohibited.
Is All Travel Prohibited?
There are a few exceptions to the ban on travel:
- Close relatives of Cuban nationals are allowed to visit every 3 years, or under exceptional circumstances (serious illness or death in the family, for example).
- Full time students are sometimes allowed to visit Cuba for educational purposes.
- Missionaries can visit for religious purposes.
- Journalists can visit for professional purposes.
- Travel with a tourism group with a license from the U.S. State Department
How Can I Legally Travel to Cuba?
To apply for a license to travel to Cuba, one should contact the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control. It is very unlikely that a U.S. citizen could legally travel to Cuba for vacation or leisure purposes.
What Is the Penalty for Traveling to Cuba Without a Permit?
The penalty for violating this law is often a fine of $7,500 for first offenders, but fines could total up to $250,000. Furthermore, lying to U.S. Customs officials upon your return violates federal law.
Can I Bring Any Souvenirs Back?
The U.S. government prohibits tourists from bringing back items bought in Cuba including cigars and coffee. Tourists may bring back informational items including books and artwork.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Travel to Cuba?
If you are planning a legal trip to Cuba, you will not need an attorney to plan or obtain a license. If you have recently returned from an illegal trip to Cuba and are facing sanctions, you may want to speak to an attorney.
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Last Modified: 01-06-2014 12:37 PM PST
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