On August 11, 2021, The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a fact sheet to emphasize the U.S. government’s commitment to promoting the ability of the Cuban people to seek, receive, and impart information, by highlighting the most relevant exemptions and authorizations pertinent to supporting the Cuban people through the provision of certain internet and related telecommunications services. The fact sheet was issued in response to the Cuban regime’s violent crackdown, including implementing measures to curb the flow of information over the internet, of the July 2021 protests in Cuba. For additional information, please review the fact sheet available here.

The United States maintains a comprehensive embargo on trade with Cuba. The export and reexport to Cuba of items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) require a BIS license unless authorized by a license exception specified in section 746.2(a)(1) of the EAR or exempted from license requirements in section 746.2(a)(2). The EAR sets forth licensing policy for exports and reexports that generally will be approved, exports and reexports that will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and exports and reexports that will generally be denied.

For additional information, please review the BIS rule, Department's press release and BIS’s updated Frequently Asked Questions. For specific questions regarding exports or reexports to Cuba, please contact the Foreign Policy Division at (202) 482-4252.

Licensing Policy

There is a general policy of denial for exports and reexports to Cuba of items subject to the EAR, as described in Section 746.2(b) of the EAR. However, there are exceptions to the general policy of denial, some of which are listed below:

  • Medicines and medical devices, whether sold or donated, are generally approved.
  • Items to ensure the safety of civil aviation and the safe operation of commercial aircraft engaged in international air transportation are generally approved.
  • Items necessary for the environmental protection of U.S. and international air quality, waters and coastlines, including items related to renewable energy or energy efficiency, are generally approved.
  • Telecommunications items that would improve communications to, from, and among the Cuban people are generally approved.
  • Items to meet the needs of the Cuban people, including items for export or reexport to state-owned enterprises, agencies, and other organizations of the Cuban government that provide goods and services for the use and benefit of the Cuban people, are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to authorizations provided under licenses, there are authorizations provided by license exceptions, some of which are described below.

License Exceptions

A license exception is a general authorization to export or reexport certain items without a license under stated conditions. Only the license exceptions, or portions thereof, listed Section 746.2(a)(1) of the EAR are available for Cuba.

You may export or reexport to Cuba without an individual validated license if your transaction meets all the applicable terms and conditions of the available license exceptions. To determine the scope and eligibility requirements, you must review the sections or specific paragraphs of Part 740 of the EAR. Read each license exception carefully, as the provisions available for sanctioned countries are generally narrow.

Support for the Cuban People

License Exception Support for the Cuban People (SCP) (Section 740.21 of the EAR) authorizes the export and reexport 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 travel and commerce. Items eligible for export and reexport to Cuba pursuant License Exception SCP must be for certain specified end uses and end users and are limited to those designated as EAR99 (i.e., items subject to the EAR but not specified on the Commerce Control List (CCL)) or controlled on the CCL only for anti-terrorism reasons.

Agricultural commodities, medicines, and medical devices are not eligible for any provision of License Exception SCP due to limitations in the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, as amended (22 U.S.C. 7201-7211) and the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, as amended (22 U.S.C. 6001-6010).

Agricultural Commodities

License Exception Agricultural Commodities (AGR) (Section 740.18 of the EAR) authorizes the export or reexport of U.S.-origin agricultural commodities to Cuba, provided that your transaction meets all of the criteria in Section 740.18(a) of the EAR. Please note that the commodities must meet the definition of “agricultural commodities” in Part 772 of the EAR and must be designated as EAR99. To supplement the definition of “agricultural commodities” in the EAR, the U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains a list of specific commodities that fall within the definition.

Note: You must notify the Bureau of Industry and Security prior to any export or reexport (or prior to the first of multiple shipments) under License Exception AGR. Notifications are submitted through the Simplified Network Application Processing Redesign (SNAP-R) . The U.S. Government has up to 11 business days to review your transaction prior to shipment. Exporters are required to check SNAP-R or the System for Tracking Export License Applications (STELA) prior to shipment to ensure that the U.S. Government has no objections to your proposed transaction. Please refer to Section 740.18(a) of the EAR for additional information regarding the terms and conditions for use of License Exception AGR. For assistance with using SNAP-R to submit AGR notices, please review the SNAP-R Exporter User Manual or call the Office of Exporter Services at (202) 482-4811.

Pursuant to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, you must sign the contract within 12 months of receiving authorization from BIS to export agricultural commodities to Cuba. You have an additional 12 months from the signing of the contract to export the agricultural commodities to Cuba. Alternatively, you may sign the contract before receiving export authorization from BIS, but you are still required to obtain BIS authorization prior to exporting the agricultural commodities and must export them within 12 months of the signing of the contract. However, you are not required to sign a contract for exports to Cuba of agricultural commodities that are donated or commercial samples, but you must still obtain BIS authorization to export them and must do so within 12 months of receiving BIS authorization.

Consumer Communications Devices

License Exception Consumer Communications Devices (CCD) (Section 740.19 of the EAR) authorizes the export and reexport of certain commodities and software to eligible recipients in Cuba. A list of the eligible items is located in Section 740.19(b) of the EAR. Eligible recipients are individuals in Cuba, other than certain Cuban Government and Communist Party officials, and independent non-governmental organizations in Cuba. Organizations administered or controlled by the Cuban Government or the Cuban Communist Party, including schools and hospitals, are not eligible recipients. Note that there are some restrictions on reexports of foreign-produced commodities by U.S.-owned or -controlled entities in third countries.

Gift Parcels

License Exception Gift Parcels and Humanitarian Donations (GFT) (Section 740.12(a) of the EAR) authorizes the export and reexport of certain donated items by an individual (donor), or a forwarding service acting on behalf of the donor, to an eligible recipient (donee). Gift parcels may contain a variety of items, including food, most medicines, medical supplies and devices, certain consumer communications devices, and other items of a type normally exchanged as gifts between individuals, subject to restrictions described in Section 740.12(a) of the EAR. Eligible recipients (donees) are individuals, other than certain Cuban Government or Cuban Communist Party officials, and charitable, educational, and religious organizations in Cuba that are not administered or controlled by the Cuban Government or the Cuban Communist Party. For example, hospitals or schools administered or controlled by the Cuban Government are not eligible recipients.

Donors may send one gift parcel per month per eligible recipient. The combined total domestic retail value of eligible items may not exceed $800 per gift parcel. However, the frequency and value limits do not apply to food donated in gift parcels. Items contained in gift parcels must also be in quantities normally given as gifts between individuals.

Aircraft and Vessels

Flying an aircraft or sailing a vessel to Cuba, even temporarily, constitutes an export or reexport to Cuba. If the aircraft or vessel is subject to the EAR (e.g., those departing from the United States), then BIS authorization is required, either through a license or license exception, to fly/sail to Cuba. Commercial aircraft and cargo vessels on temporary sojourn to Cuba may be eligible for License Exception Aircraft, Vessels, and Spacecraft (AVS) (Section 740.15 of the EAR). Note that all corresponding requirements and criteria must be met in order to be eligible for License Exception AVS.

A BIS license is required for the temporary sojourn to Cuba of non-commercial aircraft and non-cargo vessels, and license applications for those aircraft and vessels are subject to a general policy of denial.

Other U.S. Government Agencies

Please be aware that other U.S. Government agencies administer regulations that could also impact your export or reexport transaction. For example, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) maintains certain Cuba-related sanctions. Exporters and reexporters are responsible for complying with all applicable regulatory requirements.

Foreign-Made Items

Both BIS and OFAC administer Cuba sanctions pursuant to the EAR and the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) (31 C.F.R. Part 515), respectively. Most export or reexport transactions require general or specific authorizations from both BIS and OFAC. OFAC has issued a general license authorizing all transactions ordinarily incident to the exportation of items from the United States, or the reexportation of 100 percent U.S.-origin items from a third country, to any person in Cuba, provided that the exportation is licensed or otherwise authorized by BIS. See 31 C.F.R. § 515.533. Accordingly, for those BIS-licensed exports or reexports, further OFAC authorization generally is not needed. However, in some cases, a specific license from OFAC may be required in connection with BIS-authorized exports or reexports. For example, even if BIS has authorized the reexport of items that are not 100 percent U.S.-origin to Cuba, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction would also require a specific license from OFAC to reexport the items, and OFAC’s consideration of applications for such licenses may be subject to statutory restrictions. See 31 C.F.R. § 515.559.


For questions specific to Cuba, contact the Foreign Policy Division at 202-482-4252.

Licensing Policy

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