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Revised Cuba Regulations Officially Released

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 16, 2015 0 comments

cuba and key west

Today, a final rule, opening U.S. trade with Cuba, was published in the Federal Register by the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Through this Federal Register notice, OFAC has amended its Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the BIS has amended the Export Administration Regulations with a “Support for the Cuban People” license exception. This final rule is effective today, with proposed rulemaking, opportunity for public participation, and delay in effective date deemed inapplicable because this regulation involves a foreign affairs function of the U.S.

Cuban cigars will not be readily available for U.S. consumers to purchase as a result of these changes.

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ExportImportInternational TravelOFAC

TOMORROW Updated Cuban Assets Control Regulations Take Effect

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 15, 2015 0 comments

cuba map

Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it is amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 515 (the “CACR”), which will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, January 16, 2015, at which time the changes will take effect. Continue Reading

ExportImportInternational TravelOFAC

Congressional Response to President Obama’s Announcement on Future Relations with Cuba

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 18, 2014 0 comments

CubaIn a Miami Herald article published today, Congressional opposition to President Obama’s announcement that the U.S. will lay out “a new course in our relations with Cuba” was discussed. Continue Reading

CBPExportImportInternational TravelOFACUncategorized

Business with Cuba – What’s Legal and What’s Not?

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 17, 2014 0 comments

Cuban cigarPresident Obama announced that the U.S. will lay out “a new course in our relations with Cuba.” This could mean new changes for very specific sectors at first – travel, financial services, telecom/communications, and companies that make and sell building materials and agricultural equipment. The current Sanctions in place will be eased for those engaged in trade and commerce. Does this mean that Cuban cigars will be readily available for U.S. consumers? No. The specific details of how this will occur are not in place yet, however they should be in the coming weeks. This does not mean the Sanctions imposed by the Cuban Assets Control Regulations issued in 1963 will end (that would take Congressional approval), they will just be eased in the following ways. Read on for the full details. Continue Reading

CBPCurrency SeizureInternational TravelSeizuresU.S.CustomsUncategorized

International Travelers Beware – U.S. Customs WILL Seize Your Money…

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 13, 2013 4 Comments

Money given away

International travelers often contact me with the same distraught face as the man pictured to my left, after their money is confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as a result of not properly declaring currency on hand.

Declaration Form 6059B will look familiar to all international travelers as you fill it out when entering the U.S.  Many times, the rationale for seizure is that parties traveling together split their currency, and even though together they have over the $10,000 minimum, the travelers advise they are each carrying less then the $10,000 minimum requirement for reporting (in question 13 of Form 6059B), resulting in ALL of the currency on hand being seized. On a Typical Day in Fiscal Year 2015, CBP seized $356,396 in undeclared or illicit currency.

Recently, CBP seized $82,000 of currency, and arrested the female driver, after discovering three packages of bulk currency hidden within a vehicle as a female driver attempted to exit the U.S. and enter Mexico.

During this holiday season, this post will tell you what you need to know to assure it’s NOT YOU that has their currency seized when traveling internationally!

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Best PracticesExportInternational TravelOFAC

Ready to Travel to Cuba? OFAC Simplifies Process

posted by Jennifer Diaz April 29, 2013 1 Comment

On April 18, 2013, the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") announced its effort to streamline license processing procedures by accepting requests for licenses, license amendments, and interpretive guidance electronically. This will not only simplify the process for those that wish to travel to Cuba, this new electronic application program can also be used for applications to request the release of blocked funds and much more.

 

For those that are more "old school" – you still have the opportunity to submit applications by snail mail pursuant to 31 C.F.R. § 501.801.

 

The new electronic OFAC License Application Page will allow users to apply:

  1. to travel to Cuba (for many, though not all, categories of travel to Cuba);
  2. to export agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices to Sudan or Iran pursuant to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000;
  3. for the release of a wire transfer blocked at a U.S. financial institution; and
  4. for a license or interpretive guidance in all other circumstances (referred to generally as Transactional).

For those wishing to travel to Cuba in a jiffy, you must first consult an expert to review and assure you understand the Comprehensive Guidelines for License Applications to Engage in Travel-Related Transactions Involving Cuba.  Once you know that you can apply to OFAC for your specific category of travel – the next step is reviewing the online application page.

Thus far, the electronic form may be used to apply for licenses to travel to Cuba in the following categories of travel, which are not generally authorized pursuant to 31 C.F.R. 515:   

  • Journalistic Activities
  • Professional Research and Professional Meetings
  • Religious Activities
  • Support for the Cuban People
  • Humanitarian Projects Activities of Private Foundations  
  • Research or Educational Institutes Exportation
  • Importation
  • Transmission of Information or Informational Materials
  • Licensed Exportations

The OFAC has stated that they intend to update the online application system in the future so that all the categories of travel (including family visits, educational activities, public performances, clinics, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions) may be applied for using this streamlined online process.

 

If you want to travel to Cuba, want to export agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices to Sudan or Iran, have funds blocked by OFAC, or want interpretive guidance from OFAC, assure you consult a regulatory expert so you have the best chance for success with OFAC.

International Travel

Follow Me To Quickly Clear U.S. Customs as an International Passenger

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 12, 2011 0 comments

Have you heard of the Global Entry program operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)?  If you are one of the 100,000 U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are members, then congratulations to you. If you are one of the millions of international travelers who do not like to wait in long lines at U.S. Customs when arriving at an airport in the United States after a long intercontinental flight, I have got a deal for you. 

Global Entry is a voluntary pilot program that streamlines the international arrivals process for pre-approved travelers through use of self-service kiosks located at 20 major U.S. airports.  For good reason, CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin described the Global Entry program as "excellent"  in a December 27, 2010 press release.

Applications to Global Entry first must be submitted online at www.globalentry.gov . It costs only $100 for a five year membership.  I completed the on-line application in about 5 minutes, and was notified by email the next day that I was conditionally approved. Applicants must then complete an interview and fingerprint data collection in person at any of the 20 airport sites.  I am scheduled to be interviewed on February 22, 2011 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. 

Once enrolled in the pilot program, Global Entry members may proceed directly to the kiosks in the international arrivals area upon arrival in the U.S.  At the kiosk, members insert their passport or lawful permanent resident card into a document reader, provide digital fingerprints for comparison with fingerprints on file, answer customs declaration questions on the kiosk’s touch-screen, and then present a transaction receipt to CBP officers before leaving the inspection area.

From what I have heard from fellow frequent international travelers who use Global Entry, and from my friends at CBP, joining Global Entry appears to be the right choice.  I’ll keep you updated on my personal experience on Global Entry.

International Travel

10 Symptoms To Diagnose You as a Road Warrior

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog October 12, 2010 6 Comments

I have traveled way too much recently, and thought I would help you out with some simple test questions to identify if you too are a road warrior who needs a break.  If more than 5 of the below 10 test sample comments seem all too familiar, I recommend you slow down or go home.  Enjoy this blog post, and let me know the results of the test questions for you.

1. TripAdvisor.com becomes your most commonly used Internet site.

2.  You are daily checking your hotel points and frequent flier program balances.

3.  It is no problem to pack clothes and various accessories into a 22 inch carry-on for a 5 night trip.

4.  You travel with an iPod, Blackberry cellphone, Kindle e-reader, Bose acoustic noise-canceling headphones, and laptop, but still think you are forgetting to bring some electronic gadget.

5. You wander the Brookstone store at the airport, and realize you own a heck of a lot of the stuff on display.

6. You buy shoes, shirts, and get a haircut at the airport instead of  in your own home town.

7.  You know what city you are in, but not certain of the time zone, so you call the hotel front desk to find out.

8.  You tell yourself that a five or six hour, cross-country trip from Miami to Los Angeles is no big deal compared to the international flight you recently took to Hong Kong.

9.  You actually recognize many of the TSA screeners at the airport.

10. Someone asks you for your home phone number, and you have to really concentrate to remember it.

No matter where I go or how long I am gone, I always look forward to returning home to my family (and dog).  Maybe, I’ll reward myself and my wife and kids by taking them with me on a plane to some resort hotel far, far away. Or maybe not 🙂

International Travel

Frequent Flyer Miles Getting Harder to Use

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog May 16, 2010 0 comments

Are you also having a tough time turning in frequent flyer miles to travel internationally?  My wife and I will travel to the beautiful area of Tuscany, Italy, this summer. I wanted to fly non-stop on Delta or Continental, or their code-share partners, but their roundtrip frequent flyer mile minimum requirements were very high – 90,000 and 100,000 miles, respectively!   Instead, I turned in 60,00 frequent flier miles  on American Airlines to get each of the tickets, paid $80 in "taxes" for each, and am flying on American Airlines’ code-share partner, Iberia Airlines, through Madrid. 

In years past, I had used only 50,000 frequent flyer miles on AA, Delta, and Continental to fly roundtrip from the United States to many countries in Europe.  Now, airlines want me to use double the miles, and charge me $20 per ticket for having to bother them by telephone to book the trip.  Since I live in South Florida, where American Airlines is the dominant carrier at Miami International Airport, I still have the AA Mastercard, of course, but charge on American Express whenever I can.

Fortunately, I have long had the Starwood American Express card, which allows me (for free) to move 20,000 Starpoints to get 25,000 frequent flyer miles on most airlines.  This is by far the best credit card I have ever used (yes, even better than the AMEX Platinum credit card).  After all,  I need to start saving for next year’s trip to Vienna, Austria.