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Travel to Cuba

Cuba General License for Educational Activity

The general license (published by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control as part of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations) authorizes accredited U.S. graduate and undergraduate degree-granting academic institutions to engage in Cuba travel-related transactions incident to certain educational activities. To be eligible, faculty, staff, and students must meet the qualifications outlined in 31 CFR §515.565 Educational Activities. Full details are available on the U.S. Government Publishing Office website.

To meet the qualifications, the Cuba travel must be related to:

  • Participation in a Cornell-sponsored structured educational program in Cuba as part of a course offered for credit. 
  • Noncommercial academic research in Cuba specifically related to Cuba and for the purpose of obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree. 
  • Participation in a formal course of study at a Cuban academic institution, provided the formal course of study in Cuba will be accepted for credit toward the student’s graduate or undergraduate degree.
  • Teaching at a Cuban academic institution by an individual regularly employed in a teaching capacity at Cornell University, provided the teaching activities are related to an academic program at the Cuban institution.
  • Sponsorship, including the payment of a stipend or salary, of a Cuban scholar to teach or engage in other scholarly activity at Cornell University (in addition to those transactions authorized by the general license contained in § 515.571).
  • Educational exchanges sponsored by Cuban or U.S. secondary schools involving secondary school students’ participation in a formal course of study or in a structured educational program offered by a secondary school or other academic institution and led by a teacher or other secondary school official. This includes participation by a reasonable number of adult chaperones to accompany the secondary school students to Cuba.
  • Sponsorship or co-sponsorship of noncommercial academic seminars, conferences, symposia, and workshops related to Cuba or global issues involving Cuba, and attendance at such events by faculty, staff, and students of a participating U.S. academic institution.
  • Establishment of academic exchanges (on behalf of Cornell University) and joint non-commercial academic research projects with universities or academic institutions in Cuba.
  • Provision of standardized testing services, including professional certificate examinations, university entrance examinations, and language examinations, and related preparatory services for such exams, to Cuban nationals, wherever located.
  • Provision of internet-based courses, including distance-learning and Massive Open Online Courses, to Cuban nationals, wherever located, provided that the course content is at the undergraduate level or below.
  • The organization of, and preparation for, activities described in the above qualifications by members of the faculty and staff of Cornell University.
  • Facilitation by an organization that is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction, or a member of the staff of such an organization, of licensed educational activities in Cuba on behalf of Cornell University, provided that: (1) the organization is directly affiliated with Cornell University; and (2) the organization facilitates educational activities that meet the requirements of one or more of the general licenses set forth in §515.565(a)(1), (a)(2), (a)(3), and (a)(6).

Other Allowed Travel to Cuba

In addition, these activities may also be authorized pursuant to 31 CFR 515: people-to-people educational activities, professional research, professional meetings, public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions and exhibitions; travel in support of Cuban people; the provision of educational grants, scholarships, and awards to a Cuban national or in which Cuba otherwise has an interest; and other humanitarian projects in Cuba not encompassed by the above.

Authorization Letters are Required from the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs

To obtain an authorization letter:

1. Send an email to the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at, with a copy to the Export Controls Office at Include the following information:

  • Your full name and NetID
  • Your status (faculty, staff, undergraduate student, or graduate student)
  • Dates of travel in Cuba (from [date] to [date])
  • The relevant paragraph from the qualifying activities above to which your travel is related
  • A brief description of your intended business in Cuba (You may send attachments.)

2. For your reference, download the brochure “Guidance Regarding Travel Between the United States and Cuba.”

If this travel is approved, you will receive an authorization letter from the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs. Carry this letter with you during your travel to Cuba, to show upon request.

If the travel is not approved, the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs will contact you with additional information. 


Travelers should read the “Records and recordkeeping” and “Reports to be furnished on demand” requirements set forth under the OFAC Recordkeeping Requirements (31 C.F.R. §501.601 and §501.602) and General Cuba license, 31 CFR 515.565(a).

Cornell University and the individual travelers must retain records related to their travel transactions, to be available for examination upon demand for at least 5 years from the date of each transaction. The Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at Cornell University does not require an activity report.