Skip to main content

Travel to Cuba

To visit Cuba as a Cornell traveler, you must meet certain qualifications set forth by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Cuba General License for Educational Activity.

Cuba General License for Educational Activity

The general license (published by the United States 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. 

If you are a Cornell student, or a member of the Cornell faculty or staff, you must meet the qualifications outlined in 31 CFR §515.565 Educational Activities to be eligible for travel to Cuba.

Cuba Travel Qualifications

To meet the qualifications, your travel to Cuba must be under the auspices of Cornell University. In addition, it must be related to at least one of the following:

Participation in a Cornell-sponsored, structured, educational program in Cuba as part of a course offered for credit. The program must be a full term and must include a minimum of 10 weeks in Cuba if you are not accompanied by a Cornell employee.

  • Noncommercial academic research in Cuba specifically related to Cuba and for the purpose of obtaining an undergraduate (but only when accompanied by a Cornell employee) or graduate degree. Your research in Cuba must be accepted for credit towards that 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 your graduate or undergraduate degree and provided that the course of study is no shorter than 10 weeks in duration if you are not accompanied by a Cornell employee.
  • Teaching at a Cuban academic institution if you are regularly employed in a teaching capacity at Cornell University, provided your teaching activities are related to an academic program at the Cuban institution.
  • Sponsorship 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).
  • Sponsorship or cosponsorship of noncommercial academic seminars, conferences, symposia, or workshops related to Cuba or global issues involving Cuba, and attendance at such events by Cornell faculty, staff, or students.
  • Establishment of academic exchanges (on behalf of Cornell) 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, language examinations, and related preparatory services for such exams—to Cuban nationals, wherever they are 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 above by employees of Cornell.
  • 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, provided that: (1) the organization is directly affiliated with Cornell; 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)(i) through (iii), (a)(2)(i) through (iii), and (a)(2)(vi).

In addition to the above, travel to Cuba may be authorized for professional research when certain specific requirements are met.

Please note that the above requires additional factors and considerations to meet the requirements of the license, including, but not limited to:

  • Time duration minimums

  • Accompaniment by a Cornell representative 
  • A verification and authorization letter

Please consult the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs (OVPIA) prior to engaging in Cornell travel to Cuba.

Liability Insurance Coverage

Before traveling to Cuba you should also contact Risk Management and Insurance at for Travel Certification forms necessary for liability insurance coverage.

OVPIA Authorization Letter

To obtain an authorization letter do the following:

1. Send an email to OVPIA 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; full-time or part-time; and temporary or permanent).
  • Dates of travel in Cuba (from [date] to [date]).
  • The relevant paragraph that describes the purpose of your travel from the list of qualifying activities above.
  • A brief description of your intended business in Cuba. (You may send attachments.)

2. For your reference, you may want to visit the United States Department of the Treasury's "Resource Center" on Cuba sanctions: Guidance Regarding Travel Between the United States and Cuba.

If your travel is approved, you will receive an authorization letter from OVPIA. Carry this letter with you during your travel to Cuba, to show upon request.

If your travel is not approved, OVPIA will contact you with additional information. 


Before engaging in Cornell travel to Cuba, you should read the "Records and recordkeeping" and demand” requirements set forth under the Office of Foreign Assets Control Recordkeeping Requirements (31 C.F.R. §501.601 and §501.602) and General Cuba license, 31 CFR 515.565(a).