A recent full diplomatic relation restoration between the US and Cuba took place, does that mean that US citizens can go to Cuba freely and vice versa?

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    I think you can already go to Cuba as a US citizen freely, as long as you don't spend any money... See this question – Gagravarr Dec 21 '14 at 10:03
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    Simply diplomatic relations have been reopened. All other embargoes are being maintained as they presently are, making this essentially a duplicate. – Mark Mayo Dec 21 '14 at 11:16
  • Conversely, there have been countries without diplomatic relations that made no attempt at preventing travels by their citizens or punishing them when they return. – Relaxed Dec 21 '14 at 11:35
  • While it might still be strictly speaking illegal, it's extremely unlikely that anyone would try to enforce the ban nowadays. – JonathanReez Dec 21 '14 at 11:42
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    Wait until the children in Washington get done having their little tantrums about this and the bureaucracy sorts out the details. Cuba will still be there... – Bob Jarvis Dec 22 '14 at 11:58
up vote 20 down vote accepted

No, travel is still not completely free. However, you are now allowed to travel to Cuba and spend money there legally under the following 12 categories:

  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.

Note the absence of plain old "tourism" from this list. In practice, though, it was already pretty easy to visit Cuba legally under the fig leaf of "people-to-people exchanges", and with these wide new categories, it's about to get even easier. (A week of dancing salsa or tasting cigars? Sounds "educational" to me!) You will still likely need to go through a travel agent unless sorting out licenses with the Office of Foreign Assets Control sounds like your idea of a good time.

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    "8.support for the Cuban people" this can be interpreted in many ways, going there and spending money for tourism is supporting Cuban people. – Nean Der Thal Dec 21 '14 at 15:48
  • I was researching the travel restrictions to Cuba a couple months ago, and I don't notice any differences in this list to what was possible earlier. Do you have any indication of more freedom to travel now than before? – Peter Olson Dec 21 '14 at 18:52
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    Previously each trip had to be individually scrutinized and approved by OFAC. Now you can get a one-off "general license" to travel for these 12 reasons. theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/17/… – jpatokal Dec 21 '14 at 21:27
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    @jpatokal: You don't have to "get" anything at all. The general license applies automatically to all people who qualify; that's why it's "general". – user102008 May 19 '15 at 1:29

Strictly speaking, US law does not completely forbid travel to Cuba. There are even organized tours.

The main restriction impairing free travel to Cuba is the embargo which prohibits US citizens to conduct business or any monetary transactions with Cuban interests. Since this embargo was established by a series of statutes, the president cannot overturn that without the help of the US Congress and it's unlikely to happen soon.

At the same time, there is a system of licenses authorizing people to spend money in Cuba to allow travel for limited purposes. Apparently, the current US presidency intends on facilitating that process so even if travel still won't be completely free, it could become easier.

  • 2
    The licenses link is dead - FYI – Raystafarian Apr 10 '15 at 11:55

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