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Cuba Sanctions Update June 2019


With effect from 5 June 2019, the US has imposed restrictions against certain types of passenger travel (and related transportation services) between the US and Cuba. This is of particular relevance to US cruise operators and certain owners/operators of pleasure vessels such as yachts.

Since 2014, pursuant to changes to the Cuban Asset Control Regulations implemented by former President Obama, US persons have been able to travel to Cuba in relation to certain activities authorised under 12 general licenses. The license in respect of one of those activities - group educational activities and cultural trips known as "people-to-people" travel – has been withdrawn. There are grandfathering provisions to allow such travel commitments entered into prior to the sudden announcement to be performed. These changes have been implemented by way of changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

Crucially, BIS has terminated an export exception for private and commercial vessels, including cruise lines, to depart the US for Cuba (operations that are now prohibited). Effectively, only vessels carrying authorized cargo (such as agricultural commodities) are now allowed to undertake such voyages.

Further details of these developments can be found in this article published by US law firm Holland & Knight.