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USCG Port Advisory Cuba

The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) requires the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures in foreign ports and allows the imposition of conditions of entry on vessels arriving to the US from countries not deemed to be maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures.

On 17 March 2016 the USCG determined that the Republic of Cuba is now maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures in all of its ports, and Cuba has therefore been removed from the list of Countries Affected in paragraph B of Port Advisory 1-16. The actions required in paragraphs C and D of the Advisory are no longer required for vessels that arrive in the US after visiting ports in Cuba during their last five port calls.

This does not, however, remove other restrictions imposed by US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), affecting the ability of vessels to call US ports after visiting Cuba.

OFAC’s general “180 day rule”, which prohibits any vessels calling US ports to load or unload cargo for 180 days after calling in Cuba, remains in effect. Exceptions to this are as follows:

- Vessels carrying authorized US-origin goods (mainly agricultural commodities, medicine and medical supplies);
- Vessels carrying goods exported from the US under a specific license issued by OFAC;
- Vessels carrying only exempted informational materials;
- Vessels carrying food donated to non-governmental organizations or individuals in Cuba;
- Vessels carrying agricultural commodities, medicine and medical supplies from third countries if such items would be permitted under the first category listed above if exported from the US;
- Vessels carrying students, faculty and staff that are authorized to travel to Cuba.

OFAC’s travel restrictions to Cuba also remain in effect, althoughOFAC’s March 2016 amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), and the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) amendments to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), mean that vessels carrying cargo from the US bound for countries other than Cuba may stop briefly in Cuba without obtaining a license from the BIS for that cargo to move through Cuba, as long as the cargo leaves on the same vessel, does not enter the Cuban economy, and is not moved to another vessel while in Cuba.


US regulations regarding “Unauthorized Entry into Cuban Territorial Waters,“ located in 33 CFR 107.200 also still apply. The regulations state that any US vessel or vessel assimilated as one without nationality less than 100 meters (328 feet) in length must have a Coast Guard permit to depart from the 12-mile territorial sea and thereafter enter Cuban territorial waters regardless of intervening entry into, passage through, or departure from any other territorial waters.


A copy of Port Advisory 1-16 can be downloaded from the link set out below.

pdf file type
USCG Bulletin 1-16 Cuba March 2016 (0.11 MB)