• What the New Cuba Rules Mean for Travelers
  • November 24, 2017

  • Executive summary

    Effective November 9, 2017, travelers making “people-to-people” visits to Cuba must travel with a tour group licensed by the U.S. Treasury and accompanied by a representative of the tour group. Individual tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited.


    The situation

    Effective November 9, 2017, the Trump Administration has toughened the rules on travel and trade with Cuba, rolling back some of the normalizations put in place by the Obama Administration. The changes follow a June 16, 2017 presidential memorandum announcing a stricter U.S. policy toward Cuba and occur amid ongoing tensions between the two countries.

    A closer look

    Under the new Cuba trade and travel rules:

    • Individual tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited, as it was during the Obama Administration.

    • “People-to-people” nonacademic educational travel is allowed only through tour groups operating under a general license under U.S. Treasury regulations and only if led by an authorized employee or representative of the tour group.

    • Individuals who have plans to engage in people-to-people travel that was permitted under prior rules are grandfathered if they purchased travel tickets, made hotel reservations or completed at least one other type of travel-related transaction before June 16, 2017.

    • Effective November 9, 2017, travelers are prohibited from doing business with hotels, restaurants, stores and other businesses that the State Department has determined have ties to the Cuban government.

    • The United States maintains diplomatic relations with Cuba.

    Consequences of violating the Cuba restrictions

    • The travel and trade rules of the U.S. embargo of Cuba have broad applicability to organizations, U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and foreign nationals under the jurisdiction of the United States.

    • Engaging in prohibited activities, including unauthorized travel, can subject violators to significant penalties.

    • Violations could have U.S. immigration consequences for non-citizens.