On 15 January, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) revised its Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) revised its Export Administration Regulations regarding the US embargo of Cuba.

These regulations implement changes to the embargo that President Obama announced on 17 December 2014. Although the revised regulations now permit many previously prohibited transactions, the core prohibitions of the trade embargo between the United States and Cuba remain in force, and most transactions with Cuban nationals by persons subject to US jurisdiction remain prohibited.

The amended regulations contain new general licences that allow US citizens and residents to travel to Cuba, without prior authorisation, in connection with each of the categories of travel that OFAC is permitted by statute to licence. They also eliminate a number of the previously applicable restrictions on spending, travel services and financial services incidental to authorised travel to Cuba. However, each of the general licences is subject to conditions specified in the regulations. Tourist travel to Cuba by US citizens and residents remains prohibited by statute.

The changes to the regulations also permit subsidiaries of US companies to provide goods and services to individual Cuban nationals in third countries, as long as no commercial exportation of goods or services to Cuba is involved. In addition, they authorise insurers to issue global travel, life and health insurance policies to third-country nationals without carving out travel to Cuba.

New categories of imports from and exports to Cuba have been authorised, notably including telecommunications equipment. Certain restrictions governing remittances and financial services, among other things, have also been made less onerous.

For a more complete discussion of these changes and others, please see our Client Update of 20 January 2015.