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The OFAC Book of Why: Cuba sanctions (Part 2)

Disclaimer: The information in this post comes from the documents on OFAC’s website and may not reflect current program details. The sanctions flyer for this program is dated January 24, 2012.

Very little of Cuban origin can be exported from Cuba or brought into the US. “Informational materials,” which include books, movies, films, photographs & posters, are the only exception.

I wish the issue of remittances (i.e. currency) was as simple. Let’s start with the physical transport of these items across borders. The limit, in either direction (to or from Cuba) is $3000 – unless it’s money being brought in to facilitate emigration, in which case there is no limit. Emigraton-related remittances, however, need proof, like visas, for each person receiving the funds. And, like the question they ask you at the airport about your luggage, you can’t bring in remittances on behalf of a third party.

Here are more permitted types of remittances:

  • If you have a close family member who is a Cuban national, regardless of where they are in the world, you can send them as much money as you want as often as you want – if they are not a prohibited Cuban government official or member of the Cuban Communist Party.
  • If you are over the age of 18, you can also send up to $500 in a three month period to any individual for a number of purposes (the fostering of a small business is noted in the flyer). There is no apparent limit on how many people you can send money to – it’s the amount in any given 3 month period that matters. Officials and Communist Party members, as above, are excluded from this.
  • You can support religious activities (if you’re over 18) with unlimited remittances to Cuban religious organizations.
  • You can also, if you’re over 18, make remittances to students who are involved in educational travel in Cuba for the activities licensed for that travel.
  • Emigration-related remittances are a bit more complex. There can be a maximum of 2 per Cuban national, each up to $1,000. The first is for preliminary expenses, and can be sent before the individual has a visa. The second, for the purpose of enabling the actual immigration, can only be sent once the person has a visa or other US immigration document.
  • Certain remittances from blocked accounts are permitted. These include inherited funds from close relatives, and up to $300 per three month period to Cuban nationals not living in Cuba.

There are also specific remittance licenses that can be granted – to independent non-government groups (e.g. human rights groups), payments to Cubans outside of Cuba above the $300 limit and for travel to the US for humanitarian reasons.

Also, like the requirement for travel services providers, in order to send or receive remittances to/from Cuba, firms other than depository institutions (e.g. banks) need to be licensed by OFAC.

Next installment: general prohibitions (including import/export) and humanitarian donations and gift parcels

Categories: Cuba Sanctions Uncategorized


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