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Cruising Cuba: What Vessel Owners and Operators Need to Know April 27, 2016

On Tuesday, March 29, Lauderdale Marine Center and the Marine Industries Association of South Florida hosted yacht captains and marine industry guests for a panel discussion entitled “Cruising Cuba – U.S. Compliance and Regulation.”

The engaging conversation was followed by an audience Q&A session with panelists CDR Bradley Clare, USCG Prevention Department Head, Sector Miami; Michael Moore, senior partner Moore & Co. – E3 Cuba Experience; and representatives from Stonegate Bank, the first U.S. bank with a correspondent relationship with Cuba’s central bank.

Below is a recap of the discussion, outlining steps that need to be taken before traveling to Cuba:

Government Offices

Vessel operators and owners traveling to Cuba must contact these U.S. government agencies for permitting and licenses:

  • Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control
  • Coast Guard/ Homeland Security
  • Customs & Border Control
  • Department of Commerce
  • Regulations and Exemptions

In order to determine if an exemption applies, the U.S., Department of Homeland Security offers this questionnaire for foreign-flagged yachts.

For questions regarding newly implemented regulations, contact the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control. OFAC regulations include record keeping and reporting requirements for authorized travelers.

Verify the status of licenses issued by OFAC under Cuban Asset Control Regulations prior to Sep. 21, 2015.

More information can be found here: U.S. Department of the Treasury Frequently Asked Questions.

On September 28, 2015, the Department of Treasury and the Department of Commerce announced additional revisions to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and Export Administration Regulations, further easing regulations on commerce and travel between the U.S. and Cuba. These revisions can be found here and here.

The Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control’s travel restrictions to Cuba remain in effect and regulations regarding “Unauthorized Entry into Cuban Territorial Waters” still apply.

Security and Reporting

The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002  mandated that the U.S. Coast Guard evaluate the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures in foreign ports and provides for the imposition of conditions of entry on vessels arriving to the United States from countries that do not maintain effective anti-terrorism measures.

The Coast Guard has determined that the Republic of Cuba now maintains effective anti-terrorism measures in its ports. Cuba has been removed from the list of countries affected by this advisory. Vessel owners and operators may or may not be examined upon arrival in U.S. waters. At a minimum, vessels planning transits to Cuban territorial waters should be familiar with the following two requirements:

Under Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 107, vessels less that 100m (328’) must obtain a permit from the Coast Guard for each voyage that includes entering Cuban territorial waters.

Under Title 33 CFR part 160, Advanced Notice of Arrival requirements apply to foreign and U.S. vessels less than 300 G.T. in commercial service arriving from a foreign port.

Owners/operators are ultimately responsible for maintaining vessel security and ensuring that no unauthorized persons or goods are brought into the United States. Vessel owners and operators carrying passengers must also be familiar with applicable Coast Guard regulations regarding licensing, examination and certification requirements.

Security Requirement for Recreational Vessels:

At a minimum, owner/operators of each vessel that enters a Cuban port must conduct a full search of the vessel before departure back into U.S. waters.

Reporting Requirements for Recreational Vessels:

Owner/operators arriving from Cuba should notify the Coast Guard of the vessel’s arrival 24 hours prior to entry by email (preferred), phone 305-535-4472, or by marine band VHF.

Report all security actions taken to the local U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port responsible for the port of arrival PRIOR to the vessel’s arrival in U.S. waters.

Security/Reporting Requirements for Commercial Vessels:

If you own or operate a passenger vessel that is required to comply with the MTSA or International Ship and Port Facility Code and are required to obtain a permit from the Coast Guard under 33 CFR Part 107, you must follow the security measures outlined in Coast Guard Port Security Advisory 3-15.

© MIASF 2016 | All rights reserved | Photo credit: Scott Pearson Photography

Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 2312 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Phone: 954.524.2733