The U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments are moving to ease restrictions imposed on Cuba decades ago. This will allow Americans to more freely travel to Cuba, while also enhancing trade, communications and finance between the two nations.

“These changes will have a direct impact in further engaging and empowering the Cuban people, promoting positive change for Cuba’s citizens.” — U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew

Under the newly revised regulations that will take effect January 16, Americans will be permitted to travel more easily to Cuba without first obtaining government-issued licenses. Commercial airlines and travel agents will be able to provide travel services to Cuba without a specific license, according to Lew.

Under the revised regulations, Americans will be able to:

  • Use their credit cards and spend money while in Cuba.
  • Bring back $400 worth of souvenirs and $100 worth of alcohol and tobacco products.
  • Send more money to friends and family in Cuba — up to $2,000 every three months instead of $500 currently permitted by federal regulations.

These changes are part of President Obama’s plan announced in December to resume normal diplomatic relations with the Cuban government.

“We firmly believe that allowing increased travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba will allow the United States to better advance our interests and improve the lives of ordinary Cubans,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said January 15. “These changes will immediately enable the American people to provide more resources to empower the Cuban population to become less dependent upon the state-driven economy, and help facilitate our growing relationship with the Cuban people.”

Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, the most senior U.S. diplomat for Western Hemisphere affairs, travels to Havana January 21–22 for migration talks. The joint meeting marks the highest-level visit to Cuba by a U.S. official since 1980.