Amendments Implement Additional Changes Laid Out by President Obama on Dec. 17, 2014
On Sept. 21, 2015, the U.S. Government further amended the existing Cuba-related regulations to allow for certain additional types of travel and the establishment of physical business premises in Cuba. The amendments also remove certain restrictions on remittances, financial transactions, and exports to Cuba.
The regulations are effective immediately upon publication on Sept. 21, 2015, and serve to further implement President Obama’s Dec. 17, 2014 announcement of a policy change with respect to Cuba, which included the official opening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Aug. 14, 2015.
While the amended regulations will expand business and other transactions in which U.S. persons can engage with Cuba, the United States nevertheless maintains a nearly comprehensive embargo on trade with Cuba. U.S. persons are reminded that they may only engage in transactions that are licensed or otherwise specifically authorized.
Summary of the Amendments
The U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has implemented new measures in the following areas, among others:
1. Continued Easing of Travel Restrictions
The amended regulations ease travel to Cuba for authorized purposes, specifically by authorizing U.S. persons to provide carrier services by vessel (e.g., cruise ships) without the need for specific licenses, and allowing authorized travelers to open, maintain, and close bank accounts in Cuba.
Despite these changes, tourism-related travel is still not permissible so travel to Cuba by U.S. persons continues to be restricted to authorized travel categories only. U.S. persons should take note that, while certain authorized travel categories appear broad (e.g., travel related to “support for the Cuban people”), specific requirements apply to each permitted category of travel. Continue Reading.