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Old 25-02-2008, 13:15   #1
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Cuba - Is it Possible ?

I would like your thoughts please, is it possible for NON-US nationals to sail thier own boats to Cuba from Florida without falling foul of any laws. Thanks for your interest Blackie
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Old 25-02-2008, 13:59   #2
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Well, if I were you, I would check into and spend some time in the Bahamas. Then check out and sail from there to Cuba without re-entering U.S. waters:

Expanding the Scope of the National Emergency and Invocation of Emergency Authority Relating to the Regulation of the Anchorage and Movement of Vessels Into Cuban Territorial Waters
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Old 25-02-2008, 21:08   #3
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For what it is worth we were a Canadian vessel doing a transit in the fall. We were advised , if we were to go to Cuba and then want to come back to Florida, we would not likely have trouble if we were to plan on re-entering at one of the smaller ports that had a lesser population of ex-cubans. We never had to test the advice but the sources seemed to be solid.

All in all we found the 'security' checks to be more of a matter having papers in order than anything else. The marine version of US Customs and Homeland Security folk were a heck of a lot more accomadating than the land based border guards.
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Old 25-02-2008, 22:51   #4
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Does Cuba provide any information about visiting by boat? Why not go straight to the source?
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Old 27-02-2008, 16:29   #5
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Note that the document in the link above only grants additional powers to the Secretary of Homeland Security to impose new regulations. It does not by itself actually change any of the regulations. It does grant a wide lattitude for the Homeland Security to not only put new regulations into place, but wide lattitude in searching vessels for violations and for enforcing new and current regulations.

Now, you said you are not a US citizen, but first we'll talk about US citizens.

Last I heard (2-3 years ago?) none of the regulations had changed (this is AFTER the above document went into effect in 2004). As of 2-3 years ago it was not actually against the law for a US citizen to go there, just against the law to spend any money there. Warning note: The regulations are stated so that they don't have to prove you spent money, YOU have to prove you DIDN'T (you have to show where someone else paid all your expenses while you were there). I ran into someone who went there often by boat and did double protection. Had affidavits as to who paid for lodging, fuel, food, etc., and registered as a mercy mission and took medicine with him, documenting this as well. He made several trips over a few year time period. I think this was between about 2000 and 2005. Note: That took having existing contacts in Cuba to make sure all that was arranged. Not easy.

So, for Non-US citizens:

If that hasn't changed, I'd bet a non-US citizen would mainly need to make absolutely sure they have nothing on board that could in any way be construed as smuggling. Like no cigars, etc. I would make sure I had nothing of Cuban manufacture at all.

The advice to check out all the regulations first is ALWAYS good advice. But I wouldn't check with Cuba, I'd check with your own country. They may have an agreement with the US to uphold the embargo. So what country you are from is probably the key as to what you should/shouldn't do. If it was me, I wouldn't go directly from US to Cuban waters or vice-versa, either, just to be on the safe side.
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Old 27-02-2008, 19:03   #6
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Blackie, You will be told by Customs/Homeland Security in Miami and Key West that all kinds of sanctions and bad thing will happen to you if you go to Cuba from the US or return from Cuba to the US. To date we have heard nothing of them making good on those threats but take them for what they are worth. My advice is to sail to Cuba if you so desire and if the plan is to return to the US, head over to Isla Mujares, hang out for a couple of weeks then return from Mexico. You do not need clearance papers from the US to enter Cuba. Just be aware that any discussions with officials in South Florida will set off a tirade. BTW, dacust's information is incorrect for US citizens. Under the current administration you are subject to potential civil and criminal penalties for traveling to Cuba and the US Coast Guard is authorized to seize your vessel if they "think" you might be traveling to Cuba. The reason I bring this up, other than the obvious is that you may be told that these actions also apply to you or that you may receive penalties if you sail there and then try to check into the US.
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Old 28-02-2008, 09:19   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Baier View Post
BTW, dacust's information is incorrect for US citizens.
Looking at official sites ( //http://treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/cuba/cuba.shtml )
I don't see anything to contradict you. Could be I was wrong, or it has changed. But the bulk of what I said still seems true. (Of course that one little point that I may be wrong about is a biggie! I'd trust Chuck there to be safe.)

Seems that the only thing I could find says you have to have a license based on one of a number of criteria, religous, humanitarian, etc (//http://treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/ascii/cuba.txt).

There are actually more valid reasons than I thought. And there are items you can bring back from Cuba, like artwork and publications. You can also sell artwork and publications (including CDs) to Cuba. But, you have to have prior authorization to do that, in the form of a license. And while there are a lot of reasons you can get a license, the scope is pretty narrow. There are the details and forms there. Some of the interesting details for non-US citizens are the regulations for non-US vessels leaving Cuban ports and coming directly to US ports, even if they are coming into a US port just to take on fuel.

Basically, I wouldn't trust anything I heard, but check with your own country's foriegn office. And then don't travel directly between Cuba and the US.

For non-US citizen, reading the link I have above doesn't tell you what YOU can do, but it at least tells you what the attitude of the US is on the subject.

For a US citizen, I wouldn't even trust just the above link. It may only cover the regulation from one government branch or something like that. So, you might find yourself in violation of a reg from somewhere else.
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Old 28-02-2008, 09:31   #8
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I am not trying to hijack the thread but was wondering what the rules are for dual citizenship. I have an American and South African passport. I currently live in Florida. I know under my South African passport I am free to travel to cuba but I am obviously not allowed under my American passport. Would it be allowed if I traveled say in and out of Cuba from the Bahamas and used my South African Currency? Just wondering how that works.

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Old 28-02-2008, 09:55   #9
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The problem isn't with Cuba. They will take anyone even US citizens and accept US dollars gladly. Happy to have you! I know US citizens that travel there from Canada.

It's only ilegal to go there from the US or return from there to the US and not illegal to have been there.

It all seems quite confusing but so is the whole US / Cuba relationship. The US government does not want any one to go to Cuba from US soil or go to the US from Cuban soil no matter who you are or what passport you have no exceptions. If you hold a US passport it is the only one the US government acknowledges as they consider the other passports extra. Some countries prohibit their citizens from holding more than one passport. The US only gets interested if the names don't match.
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Old 28-02-2008, 11:39   #10
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As dacust posted the rub is you must obtain a license to travel to Cuba as a US citizen and the Bush administration is issuing NO licenses. They do not reject you they simply do not reply to your application for a license. For clarification of what you can expect, call Homeland Security in Key West and chat them up about it. You will indeed wonder what country they work for. They are VERY hardnose with boaters.
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Old 28-02-2008, 13:02   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
It's only ilegal to go there from the US or return from there to the US and not illegal to have been there.
From what I understand, that's not quite all of it. It is illegal for a US citizen to spend money there. I think it's just that if you go to Cuba from another country, it is possible to hide that fact from the US. If they don't know you went you might get away with it. Sounds risky to me. For myself, I don't plan to go there under the current restrictions. Even though the restrictions seem spelled out, the impression I get is that the US is vague on purpose, and has the loop holes in place so they can jump on you if they think you are trying to circumvent the regulations to be a tourist. The US is hostile towards Cuba (no judgements here: some people think this hostility is warranted, some don't) and wants to enforce economic sanctions against them. If you try to get sneaky to get around this, they will probably hurt you.

So, Chuck says it's illegal to go there. Pblais says it's only illegal to go there directly from the US. I thought it was OK from anywhere only if you don't spend money and can prove it (and, now I realize that you probably have to have a license under one of the allowed sections). Hmmm, doesn't sound like we have a concensus. I think anyone would be a fool to trust any of the three of us. I'd go with Chuck. He just says "No."

I just ain't going, period. But I think a non-US citizen (no dual-citizens, as in without a US passport, period) should check with their own foreign office to decide. And then don't go driectly to/from US ports to be safe. And even than, I'd be very careful what Cuban goods I had on board when visiting the US.

Note: I wrote the above before Chuck's last post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Baier View Post
...and the Bush administration is issuing NO licenses...
Well, now, that kinda puts a damper on things, don't it? Makes a lot of what I posted pertaining to US citizens pretty much moot. The person I met that was doing it legally was doing it before the current administration, or at least on licenses obtained before then (I think they said their last trip was in 2005).
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Old 05-03-2008, 16:47   #12
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Thank you all for your comments, however I asked for information regarding NON-US citezens. I am British and Britian has no hang-ups with Cuba, in fact it is a major holiday spot for Europeans. So what do we know regarding Europeans sailing from Florida to Cuba please. Regards Blackie
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Old 05-03-2008, 17:15   #13
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Blackie, see my original post, have a look at the reprint of our Cuba article from Soundings Magazine on our web site, and I have sent you a PM. Most of all, go and have a great time. The people and the country are fabulous and you will only regret not going.
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