General License for Educational Travel to Cuba
Educational Travel to Cuba General License
The General License for Educational 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.

Who is eligible?
Faculty, staff and students of American universities and colleges.
What should I know?
All accredited degree-granting graduate and undergraduate institutions are eligible to travel under the general license for educational activities.
There is no restriction on the length of travel. Full and part-time faculty, staff and students are able to travel for any length of time under the auspices of their schools.
Educational travel undertaken by students must be recognized for credit by their home institution.
Students of a U.S. accredited institution can enroll in courses at an accredited Cuban educational institution if study is accepted for credit by their home institution.
Graduate students may travel alone if their research in Cuba is recognized for credit.
Faculty and staff may travel alone if they are researching a future school trip and/or curriculum.
All that is needed to travel legally under this general license is a letter on official school letterhead. 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 educational travel should be attached to the letter from your school. Nothing else is required. The letter from your school is your Cuba travel license.
Faculty and staff travel letter (MSWord document)
Undergraduate student travel letter (MSWord document)
Graduate student travel letter (MSWord document)
OFAC regulations for educational Cuba travel (PDF document)
Text of OFAC U.S. Cuba educational activities travel provisions, issued April 19, 2011 and revised May 10, 2012:

V. Educational Activities – 31 C.F.R. § 515.565(a)

General license for certain educational activities of accredited U.S. graduate or undergraduate academic institutions – 31 C.F.R. § 515.565(a):

Section 515.565(a) sets forth a general license authorizing accredited U.S. graduate and undergraduate degree-granting academic institutions, including faculty, staff, and students of such institutions, to engage in travel-related transactions and such additional transactions that are directly incident to:

(a)(1) Participation in a structured educational program in Cuba as part of a course offered for credit by the sponsoring U.S. academic institution;

(a)(2) Noncommercial academic research in Cuba specifically related to Cuba and for the purpose of obtaining a graduate degree;

(a)(3) Participation in a formal course of study at a Cuban academic institution, provided the formal course of study in Cuba will be accepted for credit toward the student's graduate or undergraduate degree;

(a)(4) Teaching at a Cuban academic institution by an individual regularly employed in a teaching capacity at the sponsoring U.S. academic institution, provided the teaching activities are related to an academic program at the Cuban institution and provided the duration of the teaching will be no shorter than 10 weeks;

(a)(5) Sponsorship, including the payment of a stipend or salary, of a Cuban scholar to teach or engage in other scholarly activity at the sponsoring U.S. academic institution; or

(a)(6) The organization of, and preparation for, activities described in (a)(1)-(5) above by members of the faculty and staff of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution.

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.

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 designated representative of the sponsoring academic institution (defined as a person designated by the relevant dean or the academic vice-president, provost, or president of the institution as the official responsible for overseeing the institution's Cuba travel program). Please refer to the relevant subsection within section 515.565(a) for more specific information concerning the necessary contents of such letters. In addition, U.S. academic institutions and individual travelers must retain records related to the transactions authorized pursuant to this provision. See 31 C.F.R. §§ 501.601 and 501.602.

The general license authorizes all members of the faculty and staff (including but not limited to adjunct faculty and part-time staff) of the sponsoring U.S. academic institution to participate in the activities set forth in the general license. A student currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program at any accredited U.S. academic institution is authorized pursuant to the general license to participate in the academic activities in Cuba set forth in the general license through any sponsoring U.S. academic institution, not only through the institution at which the student is pursuing a degree.

Full-time professionals who wish to engage in travel-related transactions to conduct professional research or attend professional meetings in Cuba are not authorized by this general license and must qualify under the general license contained in section 515.564(a) or obtain a specific license under section 515.564(b).

Q Can my school 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 academic programs on the island is essential.

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

A Yes! Click here for OFAC legal ruling.

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.

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.

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

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