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Private Boats Can Travel Direct to Cuba – BUT Some Restrictions Apply

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October 16th, 2015

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The Obama administration recently issued new rules that allow U.S. visitors going to Cuba to travel in their own boat, whether for hire or recreation, direct to Cuba.  Some requirements remain that you must satisfy before you set off, though the situation is changing all the time.  We will try to keep you up to date.  The National Marine Manufacturers Association in the U.S. has taken the lead in exploring options for the industry and boaters.

Two visa requirements should be considered for your boat trip to Cuba:

Traveler:

You still are not legally allowed to travel to Cuba as a tourist, so you must self-certify to obtain your travel authorization by selecting one of the 12 categories listed by the Treasury Department, U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control:

  1. Family visits
  2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  3. Journalistic activity
  4. Professional research and professional meetings
  5. Educational activities
  6. Religious activities
  7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  8. Support for the Cuban people
  9. Humanitarian projects
  10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.

For more information on traveling to Cuba please visit TBF’s website, billfish.org https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/policy-guidance/country-guidance/sanctioned-destinations/cuba

https://licensing.ofac.treas.gov/Apply/Introduction.aspx

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9ae4a21068f2bd41d4a5aee843b63ef1&rgn=div5&view=text&node=15:2.1.3.4.25&idno=15#15:2.1.3.4.25.0.1.15

Vessel:

A license for your vessel from the Department of Commerce is still required though on a case by case basis, which surely will be standardized soon.

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/forms-documents/doc_view/201-temporary-sojourn-license-applications-for-aircraft-and-vessels-to-cuba

You may find it very helpful to work with a leading travel agency that is working with the Marine Manufacturers Association to establish clarity with the vessel licensing.

Cuba Travel Services

Ms. Emily Sanchez

Emily@CubaTravelServices.com

1-562-366-1631

Fishing:

Remember a fishing license is a totally different issue that has to be obtained in Cuba.

TBF’s sportfishing contact in Cuba is Commodore Jose Escrich at the Hemingway Yacht Club, which hosts a billfish tournament each June.  With the dynamic changes taking place with the U.S. and Cuba allowing private U.S. vessels to travel direct to Cuba it is our understanding the Commodore has been swamped with requests, so patience will be required.  Hopefully, soon a standardized process will be established for U.S. anglers and made readily available.  Commodore Escrich, www.hemingwayyachtclub.org .

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