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TRAVEL & REGULATIONS

Export Control FAQs

An Important Note About Traveling to Cuba

Is Cuba an embargoed country?
Yes. President Obama’s Cuba Policy revised the licensing policy for certain types of exports; however, the United States continues to maintain a comprehensive embargo prohibiting trade with Cuba.

Is there a federal agency that oversees travel to Cuba?
Yes. The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sets the rules and restrictions governing travel to Cuba, Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR).

Can I travel to Cuba as a tourist?
No. OFAC specifically prohibits all tourist-oriented activities in Cuba.

Are there penalties for violating OFAC regulations?
Yes. The fines for violations can be substantial. Criminal penalties for willful violations can include fines ranging up to $1 million and imprisonment up to 10 years.

Do I need special permission from the US government to travel to Cuba?
No. If your travel falls within one of OFAC’s 12 categories of authorized travel you do not need special US government permission. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

What are some examples of OFAC’s categories of authorized travel to Cuba?
• Professional research and professional meeting
• Activities in Cuba by private foundations, or research or educational institutes
• Humanitarian projects
• Journalistic activities
• Family visits

What constitutes “activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes” for generally authorized travel?
Activities with an established interest in international relations to collect information related to Cuba for noncommercial purposes. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

If I qualify for one of OFAC’s categories of authorized travel to Cuba, does the entire group I am traveling with also qualify?
No. Each individual must qualify and fall within one of OFAC’s 12 authorized travel categories, or a special license would be required to travel to Cuba. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

Can my significant other travel with me to Cuba?
No. President Trump’s revised Cuba policy recommendations would not authorize such travel. 

Can my travel schedule of activities include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba?
No. Authorized travelers to Cuba pursuant to most general license categories are expected to maintain a full-time schedule of activities consistent with the terms of the general license they are traveling pursuant to. An example of a full-time schedule in Cuba would spending four days in Cuba and participating in a two-day health conference, one day touring Cuban hospitals and interviewing Cuban patients and the following day the traveler could engage in Cuban cultural activities such as visiting a museum. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

Can I make a research documentary in Cuba?
Yes. OFAC regulations permit making documentaries in Cuba that are directly related to your research trip if certain other criteria are met. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

Do I need to get approval from the Cuban institution I am collaborating with prior to making my documentary in Cuba?
Yes. You must obtain prior written approval from the relevant Cuban academic co-sponsor, prior to filming in Cuba. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

Can I bring (export) my UConn-owned laptop or mobile device to Cuba?
Yes, as long as they do not contain any unpublished export controlled data or specialized encryption software. If your device contains unpublished export controlled data or specialized encryption software you would be required to get a special license, prior to bringing it to Cuba. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

Can I bring research equipment with me?
Yes, as long as your equipment is not included on a technology control list maintained by the US government. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

Are there any spending limits for authorized U.S. travelers while in Cuba?
No. There is no specific dollar limit on authorized expenses. Authorized travelers may engage in transactions ordinarily incident to travel within Cuba, including hotel accommodations, meals, local transportation, or goods personally used by UConn travelers.

Can I host a research reception in Cuba?
Yes, but your reception must be directly related to your research collaboration and all expenses must be accordance with internal UConn policies, including UConn’s travel policy. *Requires OVPR prior approval prior to departure.

Can I purchase Cuban-origin cigars and/or Cuban-origin rum or other alcohol while traveling in Cuba?
Yes, if for personal use. Persons authorized to travel to Cuba may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption. Authorized travelers may also return to the United States with alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba as accompanied baggage for personal use. OFAC considers “personal use” of an imported item to include giving the item to another individual as a personal gift, but not the transfer of the item to another person for payment or other consideration.

Are authorized travelers permitted to open bank accounts in Cuba?
Yes. Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction who are traveling to Cuba pursuant to one of the 12 authorized categories of travel, may open and maintain bank accounts in order to access funds while located in Cuba for authorized transactions and may close such accounts. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

Are authorized travelers in Cuba permitted to use credit or debit cards issued by a U.S. financial institution?
Yes. Travelers are advised to check with their financial institution before traveling to Cuba to determine whether the institution has established the necessary mechanisms for its issued credit or debit cards to be used in Cuba. *Requires OVPR approval prior to departure.

When I return back from Cuba do I have to keep my receipts?
Yes. OFAC regulations require travelers maintain a record of their trip receipts and financial documents for at least five years.

Who should I contact if I have additional export related questions when traveling to Cuba?
You can contact Carol Connolly, OVPR’s Senior Export Control Officer, exportcontrol@uconn.edu or call 860-486-3994.