Travel to Cuba
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. This includes most forms of travel to the country.
There are exceptions, however. 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, and journalists can visit for professional reasons.
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.
The penalty for violating this law is often a fine of $7,500 for first offenders. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 25,000 Americans travel illegally to Cuba every year. While a relatively small percentage of these people are caught and fined, recent crackdowns by the Clinton and Bush administrations have led to an increase in enforcement of the laws prohibiting travel to Cuba.
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Last Modified: 02-26-2013 02:40 PM PST