2017 New Regulations
The regulations announced on June 16, 2017 regarding travel to Cuba by U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents (which we expect will be formally announced in September, 2017) will continue to allow travel by private vessel to Cuba. The U.S. Treasury issued a new set of FAQ's alongside the June announcement. This document foreshadows what the new regulatory environment will look like for private vessels traveling to Cuba this season. Most of the "new regulations" referred to are actually "existing regulations" which have not been enforced in recent times. Some of these may be applied in the short-term, while others will come into play once the regs are published.
People-to-people travel is still permitted for "Groups"
The June 2017 notice states - "The President instructed Treasury to issue regulations that will end individual people-to-people travel."
Note that "Group" people-to-people travel will still be allowable. And so now, if you want to take your vessel to Cuba with friends and family, you need to be part of an organized group, which was defined in the Treasury announcement -
"Group people-to-people travel is educational travel not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program that takes place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. Travelers utilizing this travel authorization must maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba. An employee, consultant, or agent of the group must accompany each group to ensure that each traveler maintains a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities. "
As a private vessel owner, you are still legal to go to Cuba -
"A person subject to U.S. jurisdiction engaging in authorized travel pursuant to an OFAC general or specific license may use a personal boat for his or her travel to Cuba provided that the temporary sojourn of the vessel is authorized by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), and provided that he or she otherwise complies with all other applicable U.S. government laws and regulations. Goods exported to Cuba also require a license or must be eligible for a license exception from BIS. See additional guidance on the OFAC website titled Guidance Regarding Travel Between the United States and Cuba." Source: US Treasury FAQ's January 2017.
A year ago, USCG District 7 issued Permits to both U.S. and foreign-flagged that had U.S. owners (including 'beneficial owners') with U.S. Passengers traveling under a U.S. Visa. The USCG Permit was also required by most marine insurers. Recently, USCG only issued Permits to U.S.-flagged vessels.
The Federal Register contains existing regulatory language stating that U.S. Vessels require a Permit in order to enter Cuban Territorial Waters (regardless of where they are coming from).
They define a U.S. vessel as:
"A vessel owned in whole or part by a citizen or national of the United States; or a corporation, partnership, association, trust, joint venture, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or any other legal entity, created and authorized to own vessels under the laws of the United States"
No payments may be made to businesses owned by the Cuban Military
There are marinas in Cuba US Treasury may not allow U.S. boaters to visit. When the new regulations are published, we will learn if these marinas are exempt, or not. Our initial understanding is that all "ports" are exempt in order that commercial cruise operations may continue.
People born in Cuba, regardless of passport, may not enter Cuba on a private vessel (only on a cruise ship)
This is a Cuban law. There have been discussions about changing it, and we will let you now when that happens. But for now, this law must be respected.
All U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents (inc. 'green card holders')
and all U.S. Flagged (and U.S.-owned) vessels traveling to Cuba from any port (inc. Bahamas, Mexico or Caribbean) are required to conform with
U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Treasury (OFAC), &
U.S. Commerce Department rules and regulations.
For all yachts headed to Cuba:
* There is only one way to do Cuba: First Class.
* Just tell us what you want to do, where you want to go and when - and leave it to us to make it happen.
* We will make sure you comply with all the new regs, not only in U.S., but also in Cuba.
* We handle all port arrangements, including provisioning, dive-masters, marina reservations, Customs & Immigration, Cuban Visas, etc.
* We work directly with the top-tier excursion handlers in Cuba who will design a custom experience for you in Cuba that is both fun and legal.
* If something goes wrong- we have people on the ground who will arrange repairs, crew replacement, guest arrivals and departures.
* Private aircraft arrival and departures - no problem.