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Old 15-03-2014, 15:05   #1
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Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

As far as I understand it's fine for two norwegians on a norwegian boat to sail from Cuba to Miami, without having problems with the authorities. We have proper visas as well.

The thing is that we want to bring with us a US citizen from the Caribbean to Cuba and then to the US.

I've read loads of post on the matter, but not this specific problem.

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Old 15-03-2014, 18:43   #2
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

Your best bet would be to contact US Customs and Border Protection directly and have them give you an answer straight from the horses mouth so to speak. You'll get your best and most accurate answer that way.

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Old 15-03-2014, 19:53   #3
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

A simple solution would be to head for Bimini and clear there from Cuba then head for Miami. It will cost you the $300 but Miami would have to be the worst possible place for an American to clear from Cuba.
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Old 15-03-2014, 20:33   #4
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

Regarding Miami we can easily change port to another one. Any suggestions nearby, north or south? (I thought the Keys was worst...)

Thanks for the tip about customs.

Any other experiences with bringing US citizens on a foreign boat into US?
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Old 15-03-2014, 20:54   #5
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

Its not the fact that you're bring in a US citizen on a foreign boat. Its the fact that you're coming from Cuba. I know some restrictions have eased recently, but I think a US citizen requires special State Department clearance to travel directly to and from Cuba and the US. I could be wrong on that last point, but that's what I remember reading.

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Old 15-03-2014, 21:44   #6
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

Don't say you picked up the American in Cuba. Say you picked him up from an al-Quaeda training camp in Yemen and he will have an easier time of it.
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Old 15-03-2014, 21:54   #7
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

With a very few exceptions, US citizens are NOT allowed to travel to/from Cuba directly to the US. Find an alternate departure port/country before sailing to the US. (In addition, better not have a Cuba Visa exit stamp inside the US passport!) Good luck!

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Old 15-03-2014, 22:05   #8
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

As to a passport stamp, the Cuban authorities realize the issue and generally do not stamp the passport of a US citizen. If they start to stamp by mistake and are cautioned they will not stamp.

That out of the way, this is a very complicated topic. The law actually reads that one can't engage in trade. Can't buy anything or spend any money. US citizens can get travel licenses to go for educational purposes and as part of groups. So the interpretation is that without a travel license you are in violation, regardless of the technicalities.

How long in Cuba is certainly a question as one would need to account for the time from the previous stop. The most practical way is to make an intermediate stop on the way to the US.

Otherwise, as someone suggested, talk customs and/or an attorney. As to penalties for the individual, often there are none, when there are fines, $1000 seems to be the popular amount although there have been cases up to $6500. Now this takes care of the individual. Then there is you as the boat owner. While you won't be there as he deals with immigration, you do have to clear into the US and report who is with you. Could you be given trouble over bringing someone who wasn't legal in? Perhaps.

In most of these cases it doesn't lead to major fines for anyone. However, it can take time to clear and be very stressful to all involved.
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Old 16-03-2014, 23:09   #9
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

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Originally Posted by dohenyboy View Post
Don't say you picked up the American in Cuba. Say you picked him up from an al-Quaeda training camp in Yemen and he will have an easier time of it.
lol. in miami, for sure.

yep they don't stamp unless you ask them to.

there is some risk, i'd also call on the bahamas first if you are to do it anyway.

Just back from havana this winter, lots of tasty treats in the humidor for summer sailing to look forward to..
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Old 17-03-2014, 07:43   #10
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

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With a very few exceptions, US citizens are NOT allowed to travel to/from Cuba directly...
Whether or not they travel directly is completely irrelevant, as far as the law is concerned. It is just as illegal for a U.S. citizen to go directly between Miami and Cuba as it is to travel half the world in between. The only difference is that it is much less likely that you'll get caught if you don't travel direct.

For the OP, the bottom line is that it is illegal for the U.S. citizen to spend any more than a couple of hours in Cuba without proper permission. If you are trying to figure out how he can violate the law without getting caught... I'll leave that to others to address.
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Old 17-03-2014, 07:50   #11
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

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The law actually reads that one can't engage in trade. Can't buy anything or spend any money.
The law also specifies that if you spend more than 4 hours (I believe that's the correct amount) it is considered prima facie evidence that you spent money there. In other words, if you're there overnight, they will not look for evidence that you spent money, and they will not be interested in any effort you might make to prove that you did not spend money (and I can't imagine how you could prove that anyway). The very fact that you spent a significant amount of time there is considered proof enough.
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Old 17-03-2014, 11:01   #12
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

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The law also specifies that if you spend more than 4 hours (I believe that's the correct amount) it is considered prima facie evidence that you spent money there. In other words, if you're there overnight, they will not look for evidence that you spent money, and they will not be interested in any effort you might make to prove that you did not spend money (and I can't imagine how you could prove that anyway). The very fact that you spent a significant amount of time there is considered proof enough.
Thank for the reply guys.

According to Nigel Calders cruising book from 2010 the law changed in 1998 to something near what denverd0n states. The difference is, and he appears to quote the law or regulation, that you actually can prove that you didn't spent money there.

Calder also states that that CG and so on turns a blind eye to this if you come by sailboat to the US from Cuba.

What we maybe do is to pay for our american friends visa to cuba and all other traveling expences. Hopefully this will be enough if we meet the wrong officers in customs etc.
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Old 17-03-2014, 14:18   #13
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

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What we maybe do is to pay for our american friends visa to cuba...
Uh... No such thing. Cuba does not require a visa from visiting Americans.

The bottom line here is that you are either going to have to bypass Cuba, or you are going to have to help your American friend try to get away with violating the law. Now, in this case, getting away with it probably won't be too hard. Lots of people do every year. Almost no one gets caught (though I think the operative word there is "almost").

Whatever you choose to do, good luck to you and your friend. I think he's going to need it.
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Old 17-03-2014, 19:08   #14
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

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Thank for the reply guys.

According to Nigel Calders cruising book from 2010 the law changed in 1998 to something near what denverd0n states. The difference is, and he appears to quote the law or regulation, that you actually can prove that you didn't spent money there.
I think you need to do some more research on that. However, if you think you have done enough research then feel free to do whatever you wish.
I for one would never rely on what someone else says.
I would rather go to the state departments website and see what it says.
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Old 17-03-2014, 19:26   #15
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Re: Norwegian sailboat - Cuba to Miami - with US citizen

its fine to go to cuba if your American you cant spend money in cuba but you can go there. I was there a Cpl of weeks ago there were some americans there. Cubans don't stamp passports and you guys can spend do all the buying in cuba. Its a great place with great people
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