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pababer
04-06-2009, 12:21 PM
Can I, a US citizen of no importance, legally travel to Cuba? If I went to Canada or Mexico and tried to buy a ticket, are those countries obligated to honor the American embargo?

P

Chez Guevara
04-06-2009, 01:00 PM
Restrictions on US citizens travelling to Cuba apply irrespective of the country of departure.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS /TRAVEL TRANSACTION LIMITATIONS:

The Cuban Assets Control Regulations are enforced by the U.S. Treasury Department and affect all U.S. citizens and permanent residents wherever they are located, all people and organizations physically located in the United States, and all branches and subsidiaries of U.S. organizations throughout the world. The regulations require that persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction be licensed in order to engage in any travel-related transactions pursuant to travel to, from, and within Cuba. Transactions related to tourist travel are not licensable. This restriction includes tourist travel to Cuba from or through a third country such as Mexico or Canada. U.S. law enforcement authorities have increased enforcement of these regulations at U.S. airports and pre-clearance facilities in third countries. Travelers who fail to comply with Department of Treasury regulations could face civil penalties and criminal prosecution upon return to the United States.You can certainly buy a ticket at a Canadian airport but US customs officials based there may well note your departure to, and indeed your return from, Cuba. There is a Pre-Clearance Treaty dating from 1974 which permits U.S. customs officials to enforce American rules for entry into the United States.

Link (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1097.html).

mnemosyne
04-06-2009, 01:03 PM
My understanding is that unless you fit into specific categories (professionals, researcher, journalists, etc) there is no way for an American to travel to Cuba legally. From http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1097.html,

Unless otherwise exempted or authorized, any person subject to U.S. jurisdiction who engages in any travel-related transaction in Cuba violates the regulations. Failure to comply with Department of Treasury regulations may result in civil penalties and criminal prosecution upon return to the United States.

That being said, many Americans do travel to Cuba from Canada and Mexico and while I'm sure some people may have been stopped, I think Canada, at least, is not obligated to honour the American embargo (why should they?) and does not actively prevent Americans from traveling to Cuba from Canada. You'd have to pay for your trip using non-US currency, since none of your credit cards/bank accounts would be available to you in Cuba. I have no idea at what rate people are punished/prosecuted or even discovered for going there via Canada.

This (http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=343739)is an interesting set of figures, though.

aaslatten
04-06-2009, 01:43 PM
It may be easier than you think to find a way to go as part of one of those specially licensed trips.

As noted in the document cited by mnemosyne, some licenses are granted for trips related to serving "humanitarian" needs. I knew of a group of cyclists a few years ago who organized in such a way that they were able to get permission to go to Cuba as a humanitarian group. (This was before 9/11, though.) As far as I remember, their real purpose was to ride their bikes around Cuba.

Bijou Drains
04-06-2009, 02:00 PM
The US soccer team played there in the last 6 months or so and ESPN showed the game. I guess they got special permission to go.

Tim@T-Bonham.net
04-06-2009, 03:15 PM
Isn't this question asking how to violate the law, which is prohibited on the SD?

Northern Piper
04-06-2009, 03:54 PM
The OP is asking whether it would be legal for a US citizen to travel to Cuba from a third country.

I don't read that as asking for advice on how to break the law, but whether it would in fact be illegal to travel to Cuba in that way - in other words, what is the legal extent of the embargo?

Chez Guevera in turn has answered the OP by advising that no, it would not be legal.

sailor
04-06-2009, 04:31 PM
All I can say is that Cuban beaches are choc full of Americans. They travel mostly from Mexico and also from Canada. Cuban Authorities will not stamp their passports and American authorities would have no way of knowing unless they posted spies abroad. And I think they have better things to do. Quite a few of my American friends have been to Cuba.

Gfactor
04-06-2009, 05:19 PM
The OP is asking whether it would be legal for a US citizen to travel to Cuba from a third country.



Precisely.

Can I, a US citizen of no importance, legally travel to Cuba?

He's not asking for a way to get away with violating U.S. law--he's asking what the law is. Fair question. Play on.

Gfactor
General Questions Moderator

Waffle Decider
04-06-2009, 05:33 PM
Even if the Cuban doesn't stamp the American passport, the Mexican/Canadian immigration authority does, right? If our hypothetical American is going to Cuba for a holiday through Canada, this means he/she will be entering Canada twice: once on the way out from the States, and then again from Cuba on the way back. Will having 2 Canadian stamps within a short period of time, without any other stamps from the US or other countries in between, cause any suspicion?

MichaelQReilly
04-06-2009, 05:34 PM
The US soccer team played there in the last 6 months or so and ESPN showed the game. I guess they got special permission to go.

And some American fans went to the game. They had one of the guys who went on World Soccer Daily. He went to one of the Central American countries and from there to Cuba. He said if you tell the Cuban customs guys what you are up to they won't even stamp your passport or anything.

MichaelQReilly
04-06-2009, 05:37 PM
Even if the Cuban doesn't stamp the American passport, the Mexican/Canadian immigration authority does, right? If our hypothetical American is going to Cuba for a holiday through Canada, this means he/she will be entering Canada twice: once on the way out from the States, and then again from Cuba on the way back. Will having 2 Canadian stamps within a short period of time, without any other stamps from the US or other countries in between, cause any suspicion?

Judging by my passport, the guys just pick a random page and stamp it. Somebody would have to be scrutinizing the thing pretty closely to figure out what you'd done.

Northern Piper
04-06-2009, 05:38 PM
Even if the Cuban doesn't stamp the American passport, the Mexican/Canadian immigration authority does, right?

Americans don't need passports to come to Canada, only satisfactory proof of American citizenship.

Q.E.D.
04-06-2009, 05:42 PM
Americans don't need passports to come to Canada, only satisfactory proof of American citizenship.

This no longer true. Cite (http://www.consular.canada.usembassy.gov/passport_requirement.asp).

KneadToKnow
04-06-2009, 05:49 PM
Judging by my passport, the guys just pick a random page and stamp it.

Concur.

Muffin
04-06-2009, 06:14 PM
Come June, if an American enters Canada without a passport, can we keep her?

Muffin
04-06-2009, 06:17 PM
This no longer true. Cite (http://www.consular.canada.usembassy.gov/passport_requirement.asp).Wrong. As Northern Piper correctly set out, Americans do not and will not need passports to enter Canada.

What you have, QED, refers to entry into the USA, not Canada. In other words, Americans can and will be able to get into Canada without a passport, but will not be able to return to the USA wihtout a passport.

Q.E.D.
04-06-2009, 06:23 PM
That amounts to the same thing, you know. Most of us who travel want to come home again.

mnemosyne
04-06-2009, 06:30 PM
FWIW, I am a Canadian and have traveled to Cuba from Canada, as have pretty much everyone I know, and no one has a Cuban stamp on their passport. They stamp your entry/exit visa document (do. not. lose. it.) but not your passport, because, according to the very cute and friendly custom's officer in Holquin, some Canadians in the past had been harassed by American customs on later trips to the US for having Cuban stamps on their passports. I have no idea if that's true, but it's the reason he gave us!

Xema
04-06-2009, 07:08 PM
Most of us who travel want to come home again.
True. But since your passport wasn't required by Canada, it won't be stamped by Canada, and so will contain no Canada-generated evidence of any trips you took beyond Canada.

Muffin
04-06-2009, 07:11 PM
Bingo.

Muffin
04-06-2009, 07:44 PM
Restrictions on US citizens travelling to Cuba apply irrespective of the country of departure.

You can certainly buy a ticket at a Canadian airport but US customs officials based there may well note your departure to, and indeed your return from, Cuba. There is a Pre-Clearance Treaty dating from 1974 which permits U.S. customs officials to enforce American rules for entry into the United States.

Link (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1097.html).That is true. Note, however, that there are direct flights between Canada and Cuba.

Muffin
04-06-2009, 07:48 PM
Will there be any significant changes in the USA's level of enforcement against its citizens and corporations by the new administration?

Tom Tildrum
04-06-2009, 10:01 PM
True. But since your passport wasn't required by Canada, it won't be stamped by Canada, and so will contain no Canada-generated evidence of any trips you took beyond Canada.

But Canada will stamp the passport of an American returning to Canada from Cuba, yes?

atomicbadgerrace
04-06-2009, 10:15 PM
Will there be any significant changes in the USA's level of enforcement against its citizens and corporations by the new administration?

There is a lot of heated discussion going on lately between the talking heads about the possibility of open travel very soon. A bill was presented to Congress not long ago, and some Cuban-related provisions are making their way into bills going through the hoops now.

Here are some recent cites that may be of interest:

U.S. loosens restrictions regarding Cuba (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/11/us.cuba.policy/index.html)

H.R. 874- Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h874/show)

Muffin
04-06-2009, 10:19 PM
But Canada will stamp the passport of an American returning to Canada from Cuba, yes?Yes, indicating entry into Canada without mention of Cuba.

Sunspace
04-06-2009, 11:03 PM
You can certainly buy a ticket at a Canadian airport but US customs officials based there may well note your departure to, and indeed your return from, Cuba. There is a Pre-Clearance Treaty dating from 1974 which permits U.S. customs officials to enforce American rules for entry into the United States.

Link (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1097.html).Hmm. If a US resident/citizen already legally in Canada goes to the airport, buys a ticket, and goes to Cuba, how would the US officials know? They're either in the US, or they work in a separate 'preclearance area' in some airport terminals. The Cuba flight would depart from a different area.

Mind you, if they were tracking the US resident/citizen's financial transactions, and I have no idea whether this is possible or done, they might pick up that purchase of an Air Canada ticket to Havana.My understanding is that unless you fit into specific categories (professionals, researcher, journalists, etc) there is no way for an American to travel to Cuba legally. From http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1097.html...For comparison, here is the Canadian government's travel advisory page for Cuba (http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=69000). While it doesn't make Cuba look like North Korea, it is worth reading. Manor tidbits I just discovered include the 25-peso departure fee, payable only in Convertible Pesos, and the fact that GPS devices are prohibited to be brought in. This means that I could not take my iPhone to Cuba.

Here's the Cuban government's advisory page on customs inspection in Cuba (http://www.aduana.co.cu/pasajero3.htm).That being said, many Americans do travel to Cuba from Canada and Mexico and while I'm sure some people may have been stopped, I think Canada, at least, is not obligated to honour the American embargo (why should they?) and does not actively prevent Americans from traveling to Cuba from Canada. You'd have to pay for your trip using non-US currency, since none of your credit cards/bank accounts would be available to you in Cuba. I have no idea at what rate people are punished/prosecuted or even discovered for going there via Canada.

This (http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=343739)is an interesting set of figures, though.

Chez Guevara
04-07-2009, 12:23 AM
Hmm. If a US resident/citizen already legally in Canada goes to the airport, buys a ticket, and goes to Cuba, how would the US officials know? They're either in the US, or they work in a separate 'preclearance area' in some airport terminals. The Cuba flight would depart from a different area.Below is a link to a piece from the Ottawa Citizen dated September, 2001.

The authors quote various parties, who comment on the methods used by US customs officials based at Canadian airports. I am unable to confirm the veracity of the claims made therein.

Bruno Coulome, who runs the Fredericton-based USA Cuba Travel, says many of his American clients have been intimidated by U.S. customs agents at Canadian airports. "The clients are really scared."

He says he has seen customs agents watching his clients check in for their charter flights to Cuba at Montreal's Mirabel Airport.

"Many times in the last month I've seen U.S. customs agents waiting at the departure counter," said Mr. Coulome, whose company handles Cuba-bound U.S. customers exclusively. He also thinks customs agents are watching for Americans arriving on flights from Cuba.

"The strategy they have is they stay at the arrival gate for Havana and they spot the travellers who walk to the counter of U.S. connecting airlines."

Nancy Chang, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City, says there are reports of surveillance in Canadian airports.

Ms. Chang is challenging the constitutionality of the fines on behalf of 400 travellers.

The U.S. customs service denies it uses surveillance operations in Canadian airports, but won't say how it determines which travellers visited Cuba......

.....Susan Ross, a California lawyer specializing in customs law, says although she suspects Canadian and U.S. authorities are informally sharing information at border points, she says most U.S. travellers are caught when they admit they've been holidaying in Cuba.

"People aren't good liars," she says. "When the agents start asking questions, people start getting nervous."

Canadian officials deny Canadian immigration or customs officials are giving their American counterparts any information about Americans returning from Cuba to international airports with U.S. pre-clearance customs services.It would seem that an American already legally in Canada who travels to an airport, buys a ticket, goes to Cuba, returns, and walks out of the airport has a better chance of avoiding suspicion than an American returning from Cuba and going straight to the counter of a US connecting airline. This chance is clearly diminished if information is shared between Canadian and US authorities as described above. It is even further diminished if US customs agents are indeed loitering at departure desks and asking pertinent questions.

Link (http://www.ibike.org/cuba/ofac/010901-np.htm).

sailor
04-07-2009, 04:03 AM
Good information.

Wasn't there a case of some American kid who was prosecuted some years back for going to Cuba? I have a very faint recollection of the incident which became national news for some reason or other.

It was like everybody was doing it and the authorities picked on some high school kid or something like that. Anybody remember that?

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