U.S. Relations With Cuba

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
February 8, 2019


More information about Cuba is available on the Cuba Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS

The United States seeks a stable, prosperous, and free country for the Cuban people. The United States pursues limited engagement with Cuba that advances our national interests and empowers the Cuban people while restricting economic practices that disproportionately benefit the Cuban government or its military, intelligence, or security agencies at the expense of the Cuban people. The U.S. government seeks to promote human rights and democracy, encourages the development of telecommunications and the internet in Cuba, supports the growth of Cuba’s nascent private sector and civil society, and engages in areas that advance the interests of the United States and the Cuban people. The United States is committed to supporting safe, orderly, and legal migration from Cuba through the effective implementation of the U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords. Due to unexplained health attacks suffered by U.S. diplomats and family members in Havana and a subsequent reduction in staffing at Embassy Havana, however, visa processing for most Cuban applicants is presently taking place in third countries.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Although economic sanctions remain in place, the United States is the largest provider of food and agricultural products to Cuba, with exports of those goods valued at $291 million in 2017 and $240 million from January to October in 2018 (latest data available). The United States is also a significant supplier of humanitarian goods to Cuba, including medicines and medical products. Remittances from the United States, estimated at $3.5 billion for 2017, play an important role in Cuba's state-controlled economy.

Travel to Cuba

Travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains prohibited, and U.S. federal regulations restrict travel to Cuba to licensed travelers engaged in certain specified activities. Anyone physically present in the United States, regardless of citizenship and nationality, must comply with these regulations. Individuals seeking to travel to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) if their travel is authorized under a general license. For travel not covered by a general license, travelers must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license. Further information on the licensing process or the categories of authorized travel can be found on OFAC’s website. Those contemplating travel to Cuba should also consult the consular information page about the country.

Transactions Involving Cuba

Transactions by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction involving Cuba are generally prohibited unless specifically authorized by OFAC. For more information on transactions, please consult OFAC’s website.

Certain exports to Cuba must be licensed by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Further information on exports to Cuba can be found on the BIS website. Most imports from Cuba and other Cuban-origin goods (e.g., merchandise purchased or otherwise acquired in Cuba or of Cuban origin acquired in a third country) are prohibited, although importation of Cuban-origin information and informational materials (for example, publications, films, posters, photographs, tapes, compact discs, and certain artwork) are exempt from the prohibition. Exports of certain items to Cuba that are intended to improve the living conditions, support independent economic activity, strengthen civil society, improve the free flow of information and facilitate lawful travel and commerce are generally authorized without a license (see here). Moreover, certain goods and services produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs are eligible for importation into the United States – for more information, see the State Department’s Section 515.582 List. Further information on imports from Cuba can be found on the OFAC website.

Cuba Restricted List

Direct financial transactions with certain entities and sub-entities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services are also generally prohibited. For more information, see the State Department's Cuba Restricted List; Treasury’s regulations at 31 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 515.209, here; and Commerce’s regulations at 15 CFR parts 730-774, here.

Cuba's Membership in International Organizations

Cuba and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, but usually take opposing positions on international issues. Cuba was suspended from participation in the Organization of American States in 1962. Its suspension was lifted in 2009; however, it has not engaged in the dialogue required for further participation in OAS processes. At the invitation of host governments, Cuba attended the Summit of the Americas in 2015 and 2018.

Bilateral Representation

Principal U.S. embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Cuba is represented in the United States by the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC.

More information about Cuba is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Cuba Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Cuba Page
U.S. Embassy
USAID Cuba Page
History of U.S. Relations With Cuba
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page
Bureau of Industry and Security Cuba
Travel Information