These New US-Cuba Rules Start Tomorrow
Still no tourist travel, but no more special travel licenses either
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 15, 2015 9:20 AM CST
In this March 22, 2013 file photo, miniature flags representing Cuba and the US are displayed on the dash of an American classic car in Havana, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes, File)

(Newser) – The Obama administration is putting a large dent in the US embargo against Cuba (which only Congress can end) as of tomorrow, significantly loosening restrictions on American trade and investment. A rundown of those new Treasury and Commerce Department regulations, per today's announcement:

  • General tourist travel is still prohibited, but Americans authorized to visit Cuba (for family visits, official government business, journalism, research, education, religious activity, and other reasons) need no longer apply for special licenses.

  • US companies will be able to export mobile phones, televisions, memory devices, recording devices, computers, and software to Cuba, a country with notoriously poor Internet and telecommunications infrastructure.
  • A limit on remittance payments to family members in Cuba will be raised to $8,000 per year, from $2,000 per year.
  • Americans visiting Cuba will be allowed to bring home $100 in alcohol and tobacco products, and $400 in total goods.
  • No more limits on how much money Americans spend in Cuba each day or what they spend it on. Permissible use of US credit and debit cards.
  • Travel agents and airlines can fly to Cuba without a special license. Insurance companies can provide coverage for health, life, and travel insurance policies for individuals residing in or visiting Cuba.
  • Companies may ship building materials and equipment to private Cuban companies to renovate private buildings.
The US and Cuba are scheduled to hold migration talks in Havana next week, the next step in their normalization process. Leading the American delegation is Roberta Jacobson, the top US diplomat for Latin America. Her visit marks the highest-level trip to Cuba by a US official since 1980.