Implement Changes Announced by the President on December 17 Related to the
Easing of Cuba Sanctions
WASHINGTON - On December 17, 2014 the President
announced a set of diplomatic and economic changes to chart a new course in
U.S. relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban
people. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of
Commerce today are announcing the forthcoming publication of the revised Cuban
Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR),
which implement the changes announced on December 17 to the sanctions
administered by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and
Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). The changes take effect
tomorrow, when the regulations are published in the Federal Register.
These measures will facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized
purposes, facilitate the provision by travel agents and airlines of authorized
travel services and the forwarding by certain entities of authorized
remittances, raise the limits on and generally authorize certain categories of
remittances to Cuba, allow U.S. financial institutions to open correspondent
accounts at Cuban financial institutions to facilitate the processing of
authorized transactions, authorize certain transactions with Cuban nationals
located outside of Cuba, and allow a number of other activities related to,
among other areas, telecommunications, financial services, trade, and shipping.
Persons must comply with all provisions of the revised
regulations; violations of the terms and conditions could result in penalties
under U.S. law.
To see the Treasury regulations, which can be found at 31
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 515, please see
To see the Commerce regulations, which can be found at 15 CFR parts 730-774,
please see here.
The regulations will be effective as of Friday, January 16. Major
elements of the changes in the revised regulations include:
- In all 12 existing categories of authorized travel,
travel previously authorized by specific license will be authorized by
general license, subject to appropriate conditions. This means that
individuals who meet the conditions laid out in the regulations will not
need to apply for a license to travel to Cuba.
- These categories are: family
visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and
certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity;
professional research and professional meetings; educational activities;
religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic
and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people;
humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or
educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of
information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.
- The per diem rate previously imposed on authorized
travelers will no longer apply, and there is no specific dollar limit on
authorized expenses. Authorized travelers will be allowed to engage
in transactions ordinarily incident to travel within Cuba, including
payment of living expenses and the acquisition in Cuba of goods for
personal consumption there.
travelers will now be allowed to use U.S. credit and debit cards in
Travel and Carrier Services –
- Travel agents and airlines will be authorized to
provide authorized travel and air carrier services without the need for a
specific license from OFAC.
- U.S. insurers will be authorized to provide
coverage for global health, life, or travel insurance policies for individuals
ordinarily resident in a third country who travel to or within Cuba.
Health, life, and travel insurance-related services will continue to be
permitted for authorized U.S. travelers to Cuba.
Importation of Goods –
- Authorized U.S. travelers to Cuba will be allowed to
import up to $400 worth of goods acquired in Cuba for personal
use. This includes no more than $100 of alcohol or tobacco products.
- In order to better provide efficient and adequate
telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba, a new OFAC
general license will facilitate the establishment of commercial
telecommunications facilities linking third countries and Cuba and in
commercial export of certain items that will contribute to the ability of
the Cuban people to communicate with people within Cuba, in the United
States, and the rest of the world will be authorized under a new Commerce
license exception (Support for the Cuban People (SCP)) without requiring a
license. This will include the commercial sale of certain consumer
communications devices, related software, applications, hardware, and
services, and items for the establishment and update of
- Additional services incident to internet-based communications
and related to certain exportations and reexportations of communications
items will also be authorized by OFAC general license.
Consumer Communications Devices –
- Commercial sales, as well as donations, of the export
and reexport of consumer communications devices that enable the flow of
information to from and among the Cuban people – such as personal
computers, mobile phones, televisions, memory devices, recording devices,
and consumer software – will be authorized under Commerce’s Consumer
Communication Devices (CCD) license exception instead of requiring
- Depository institutions will be permitted to open and
maintain correspondent accounts at a financial institution that is a
national of Cuba to facilitate the processing of authorized
- U.S. financial institutions will be authorized to
enroll merchants and process credit and debit card transactions for
travel-related and other transactions consistent with section 515.560 of
the CACR. These measures will improve the speed and efficiency
of authorized payments between the United States and Cuba.
- The limits on generally licensed remittances to Cuban
nationals other than certain prohibited Cuban Government and Cuban
Communist Party officials will be increased from $500 to $2,000 per
- Certain remittances to Cuban nationals for humanitarian
projects, support for the Cuban people, or development of private
businesses will be generally authorized without limitation. These
general licenses will allow remittances for humanitarian projects in or
related to Cuba that are designed to directly benefit the Cuban people; to
support the Cuban people through activities of recognized human rights
organizations, independent organizations designed to promote a rapid,
peaceful transition to democracy, and activities of individuals and
non-governmental organizations that promote independent activity intended
to strengthen civil society in Cuba; and to support the development of
private businesses, including small farms.
- Authorized travelers will be allowed to carry with them
to Cuba $10,000 in total family remittances, periodic remittances,
remittances to religious organizations in Cuba, and remittances to
students in Cuba pursuant to an educational license.
- Under an expanded general license, banking
institutions, including U.S.-registered brokers or dealers in securities
and U.S.-registered money transmitters, will be permitted to process
authorized remittances to Cuba without having to apply for a specific
Third-Country Effects –
- U.S.-owned or -controlled entities in third countries,
including banks, will be authorized to provide goods and services to an
individual Cuban national located outside of Cuba, provided the
transaction does not involve a commercial exportation of goods or services
to or from Cuba.
- OFAC will generally authorize the unblocking of
accounts of Cuban nationals who have permanently relocated outside of
- OFAC is issuing a general license that will authorize
transactions related to third-country conferences attended by Cuban
addition, a general license will authorize foreign vessels to enter the
United States after engaging in certain trade with Cuba.
Small Business Growth –
- Certain micro-financing projects and entrepreneurial
and business training, such as for private business and agricultural
operations, will be authorized.
- Also, commercial imports of certain independent Cuban
entrepreneur-produced goods and services, as determined by the State
Department on a list to be published on its website, will be authorized.
“Cash in Advance” –
- The regulatory interpretation of “cash in advance” is
being redefined from “cash before shipment” to “cash before transfer of
title to, and control of,” the exported items to allow expanded financing
of authorized trade with Cuba.
Supporting Diplomatic Relations
and USG Official Business –
- The President announced
the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. To facilitate
that process, OFAC is adding a general license authorizing transactions
with Cuban official missions and their employees in the United States.
- In addition, in an effort to support important U.S.
government interests, an expanded general license will authorize
Cuba-related transactions by employees, grantees, and contractors of the
U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain international
organizations in their official capacities.
Support for the Cuban People –
- Exports and reexports to provide support for the Cuban
people in three areas: improving living conditions and supporting
independent economic activity; strengthening civil society; and improving
communications – will be eligible under Commerce’s SCP license
- To improve living conditions and support independent
economic activity, SCP will authorize: (1) building materials, equipment,
and tools for use by the private sector to construct or renovate
privately-owned buildings, including privately-owned residences,
businesses, places of worship, and building for private sector social or
recreational use; (2) tools and equipment for private agricultural activity;
and (3) tools, equipment, supplies, and instruments for use by private
- To strengthen civil society, SCP will authorize export
and reexport of donated items and temporary export and reexport by
travelers to Cuba of items for use in scientific, archaeological,
cultural, ecological, educational, historic preservation, or sporting
activities. SCP will also authorize exports and reexports to human
rights organizations, individuals, or non-governmental organizations that
promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society.
- Travelers will also be able to export temporarily items
for use in professional research in the traveler’s profession or full time
field of study under SCP. The activities or research must not be
related to items on the United States Munitions List or items controlled
for sensitive reasons on the Commerce Control List.
- To improve communications, SCP will authorize exports
and reexports of items for use by news media personnel and U.S. news
- SCP will not authorize the export of items on the
Commerce Control List for sensitive reasons such as national security,
nuclear proliferation, regional stability, missile technology, and other
reasons of similar sensitivity.
Gift Parcels –
- Consolidated shipments of gift parcels will be eligible
for the same Commerce license exception that authorizes individual gift
Liberalizing License Application Review Policy –
- Commerce will set forth a general policy of approval
for applications to export or reexport items necessary for the
environmental protection or enhancement of U.S. and international air and
water quality or coastlines (including items that enhance environmental
quality through energy efficiency).