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New Cuba Travel Restrictions - June 2019

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Looks like Trump is shutting things back down... 

The Trump administration on Tuesday imposed new restrictions on Americans going to Cuba, banning the most common way Americans travel to the island.

The United States will not permit group educational and cultural trips known as “people to people” trips to the island, the Treasury Department said in a statement. Those trips have been used by thousands of American visitors.

The administration said that it will also no longer permit visits to Cuba “via passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, and private and corporate aircraft,” methods that many Americans have used.

“Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes,” Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The announcement came nearly two months after John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, said the Treasury Department would “implement further regulatory changes to restrict non-family travel to Cuba.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/travel/cuba-travel-restrictions-trump.html

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9 hours ago, Capt. Corona said:

Just curious....did you have to fill out an itinerary to submit for your visa?  If so can you give an idea what it may have looked like?

No I did not. At the airport on the kiosk you select support for Cuban people, then you pay for Visa and check into your flight as you would any other flight. Your supposed to keep an itinerary 5 years after trip. To date no one I know has had to submit there itinerary.

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9 hours ago, Capt. Corona said:

Just curious....did you have to fill out an itinerary to submit for your visa?  If so can you give an idea what it may have looked like?

I've gone a few times for support for the cuban people. They never ask for an itinerary. You can create one just in case but ive never heard of anyone asking.

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Correct, Support of the Cuban People is still 100% legitimate, as one of the 12 accepted categories of legal travel under the General License for Travel to Cuba. Unless that category is next on the list to be axed, but I think if it were, it would have been axed yesterday. Three times I've gone, no one in US customs is interested in anything at all related to reason for travel, itinerary, etc. The only time it has come up is when you book airfare--the airline asks, you tell them the category (Support of the Cuban People), they say ok, and that's it. You don't have to submit anything in order to buy tickets or to go to Cuba--this is the essence of the General License for travel to Cuba--it is legal, and requires no permission or up-front submittals, if you travel under one of the 12 categories. It is not a bad idea to keep an itinerary that shows what you did on your visit--museums, coffee shops, walks through neighborhoods, time spent with hosts during meals or at the casa--but honestly I doubt anyone cares on the back end. And since we Americans can't use credit cards anyway, no one can demonstrate that you spent money at any given place--if you want to document your itinerary, there's no other record of what you did, where you went, or what $ you spent where, other than your airfare on your credit card, which is 100% legal--you don't have to hide that. The airlines are the ones who now bear the real burden and that is why they ask you for a travel category. But the key is that visiting Cuba in a way that honestly complies with Support of the Cuban People is also fun, interesting and makes for a great visit. 

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It sounds like the biggest impact will be for people who were planning on cruising there. It will be interesting to see what if any changes happen in the next few years and months and if there are changes to the limits of bring back personal use products. 

I keep kicking around a trip there in my head but am pretty sure I can get it done anytime in the near or middle future. Too many other places in front of Cuba on my list. 

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9 hours ago, DSegal said:

Correct, Support of the Cuban People is still 100% legitimate, as one of the 12 accepted categories of legal travel under the General License for Travel to Cuba. Unless that category is next on the list to be axed, but I think if it were, it would have been axed yesterday. Three times I've gone, no one in US customs is interested in anything at all related to reason for travel, itinerary, etc. The only time it has come up is when you book airfare--the airline asks, you tell them the category (Support of the Cuban People), they say ok, and that's it. You don't have to submit anything in order to buy tickets or to go to Cuba--this is the essence of the General License for travel to Cuba--it is legal, and requires no permission or up-front submittals, if you travel under one of the 12 categories. It is not a bad idea to keep an itinerary that shows what you did on your visit--museums, coffee shops, walks through neighborhoods, time spent with hosts during meals or at the casa--but honestly I doubt anyone cares on the back end. And since we Americans can't use credit cards anyway, no one can demonstrate that you spent money at any given place--if you want to document your itinerary, there's no other record of what you did, where you went, or what $ you spent where, other than your airfare on your credit card, which is 100% legal--you don't have to hide that. The airlines are the ones who now bear the real burden and that is why they ask you for a travel category. But the key is that visiting Cuba in a way that honestly complies with Support of the Cuban People is also fun, interesting and makes for a great visit. 

Thanks for the heads up.  I would assume as far as cigars and facturas everything is still the same?  I mean ultimatly if we purchase boxed cigars a portian of the sale is going back to the "military", unless I'm missing something?

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The qualifications for the Support for the Cuban People general travel license were made more stringent. I would read the new qualifications before electing that license. My reading is that one will need a full, documentable itinerary devoted to supporting the immediate change to democracy in Cuba with no recreation or free time. Of course, it is not a Customs issue but could open you up to penalty from the Treasury Department. Also, with cruise lines already diverting future cruises, buyer beware on airfare without travel insurance or refundable tickets.

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Yes there have been some changes in the language, but not much and nothing too substantial. it has always been a requirement to keep records, and to have appropriately full days of activities--that was already part of the deal. I think the important thing to remember is that this is a legal way to visit Cuba and if it were something our government was really opposed to, they'd have eliminated it. I bought airline tickets yesterday and the process was the same as before. Drop-down menu offering choices of travel categories. Nothing more.

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