General License for Educational Travel to Cuba
Religious Travel to Cuba General License
The General License for Religious Activities is a do-it-yourself Cuba travel license. No application, permission or prior approval from the U.S. government is required. It takes less than an hour to prepare. It is simple, easy and free.
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Q What can I bring back from Cuba?

A Informational materials including publications, books, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, tapes, compact discs, and artwork. Everything else is prohibited. Click here for the actual regulations.

Q Is it legal to go to Cuba with a Canadian tour operator?

A Yes! Click here for OFAC legal ruling.

This page and its content are current at . Information herein is provided as a courtesy and does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion.
Who is eligible?
Staff and members of any religious organization.
What should I know?
Travel under this license must be with the purpose of engaging in a full-time program of religious and spiritual activities.
The letter from your religious organization is your license to travel to Cuba legally. Nothing else is required. Sample templates are available for download (below).
Sample license templates downloads.
Use these sample templates to prepare your license for legal Cuba travel. Simply replace the information in brackets with your specific details. The OFAC regulations pertaining to religious travel should be attached to the letter from your religious organization. Nothing else is required. The letter from your religious organization is your Cuba travel license.

These templates can be adapted for other religious and spiritual organizations.
Church letter (MSWord document)
Synagogue letter (MSWord document)
Mosque letter (MSWord document)
OFAC regulations for religious Cuba travel (PDF document)
Text of OFAC U.S. Cuba religious travel provisions, issued April 19, 2011 and revised May 10, 2012:

VI. Religious Activities – 31 C.F.R. § 515.566(a)

General license for religious organizations located in the United States – 31 C.F.R. § 515.566(a):

Section 515.566(a) sets forth a general license authorizing religious organizations located in the United States, including members and staff of such organizations, to engage in certain travel-related and additional transactions that are directly incident to religious activities in Cuba under the auspices of the organization. Travel-related transactions pursuant to this general license must be for the purpose of engaging, while in Cuba, in a full-time program of religious activities. Activities that are consistent with U.S. foreign policy include, but are not limited to, attendance at religious services as well as activities that contribute to the development of a Cuban counterpart's religious or institutional development such as ministerial training, education, or licensing; religious school development; youth outreach; training in or the conducting of marriage seminars; construction of places of worship or other facilities for full-time use by a Cuban counterpart; production and distribution of religious materials; assistance in holding religious services; religious preaching or teaching; and training or assistance in church administration.

Note: It is a requirement of the general license that travelers to Cuba authorized pursuant to this provision carry letters on official letterhead, signed by a representative of the sponsoring U.S. religious organization designated as the official responsible for overseeing the organization's Cuba travel program. Please refer to section 515.566(a) for more specific information concerning the necessary contents of such letters. U.S. religious organizations and individual travelers must also retain records related to the travel transactions authorized pursuant to this provision. See 31 C.F.R. §§ 501.601 and 501.602.

General licenses constitute blanket authorization for those transactions set forth in the relevant regulation. For persons satisfying all criteria and conditions in a general license, no further permission from OFAC is required to engage in transactions authorized by that general license. Each person engaging in transactions, including travel-related transactions, under a general license must be able to document how he or she qualifies under the general license.

Q Can my religious organization make its own travel arrangements directly with Cuba?

A No. Arrangements must be made through a licensed U.S. travel service provider (TSP) or a Canadian tour operator. Before signing contracts with a Cuba tour operator ensure it has a long history and legal standing with Cuba. A track record of organizing quality religious programs on the island is essential.

Leonardo Hechavarría of Cuba Explorer Tours
I am Leonardo Hechavarría. I co-founded Cuba Explorer Tours. My colleagues and I are here to help you decide what travel license best meets your needs. Many thousands of Americans have witnessed my homeland on General Licenses since 1997. Not one has faced complications. We require all of our American travelers to go to Cuba with a valid travel license.

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Cuba Travel Guidelines.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) website on Cuba travel.
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