The U.S. Department of State is an excellent source of information on this subject; check out http://travel.state.gov/cuba.html
to find out the particulars.
The following categories of travelers are permitted to spend money for Cuban travel and to engage in other transactions directly incident to the purpose of their travel under a general license, without the need to obtain special permission from the U.S. Treasury Department:
- U.S. and foreign government officials traveling on official business, including representatives of international organizations of which the U.S. is a member;
- Journalists and supporting broadcasting or technical personnel regularly employed by a news reporting organization;
- Persons making a once-a-year visit to close family relatives in circumstances of humanitarian need;
- Full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to professional research in their professional areas, provided that their research: (1) is of a noncommercial academic nature; (2) comprises a full work schedule in Cuba, and (3) has a substantial likelihood of public dissemination;
- Full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to attendance at professional meetings or conferences in Cuba organized by an international professional organization, institution, or association that regularly sponsors such meetings or conferences in other countries;
- Amateur or semi-professional athletes or teams traveling to Cuba to participate in an athletic competition held under the auspices of the relevant international sports federation.
The Department of the Treasury may issue licenses on a case-by-case basis authorizing Cuba travel-related transactions directly incident to marketing, sales negotiation, accompanied delivery, and servicing of exports and reexports that appear consistent with the licensing policy of the Department of Commerce. The sectors in which U.S. citizens may sell and service products to Cuba include agricultural commodities, telecommunications activities, medicine, and medical devices. The Treasury Department will also consider requests for specific licenses for humanitarian travel not covered by the general license, educational exchanges, and religious activities by individuals or groups affiliated with a religious organization.
Unless otherwise exempted or authorized, any person subject to U.S. jurisdiction who engages in any travel-related transaction in Cuba violates the regulations. Persons not licensed to engage in travel-related transactions may travel to Cuba without violating the regulations only if all Cuba-related expenses are covered by a person not subject to U.S. jurisdiction and provided that the traveler does not provide any service to Cuba or a Cuban national. Such travel is called "fully-hosted" travel. Such travel may not by made on a Cuban carrier or aboard a direct flight between the United States and Cuba.
Failure to comply with Department of Treasury regulations may result in civil penalties and criminal prosecution upon return to the United States.
Note that the Department of the Treasury's overview states:
"Any person subject to U.S. jurisdiction determined to have
traveled to Cuba without an OFAC general or specific license is
presumed to have engaged in prohibited travel-related
transactions. In order to overcome this presumption, any
traveler who claims to have been fully hosted or otherwise not to
have engaged in any travel-related transactions must be able to
provide a signed explanatory statement, accompanied by relevant
supporting documentation, showing that no transactions were
engaged in by the traveler or on the traveler's behalf by any
person subject to U.S. jurisdiction, stating that payments made
by any non-U.S. host were not in exchange for services provided,
and providing a day-to-day account of financial transactions
waived or entered into on behalf of the traveler. A fully-hosted
traveler must also provide an original signed statement from the
sponsor or host, specific to the traveler, confirming that the
travel was fully-hosted and the reasons for the travel. For a
complete list of all evidence necessary to rebut the presumption
of travel-related transactions, see Section 515.420 of the
Regulations. Fully-hosted travelers are also prohibited from
providing any unauthorized services to Cuba or to Cuban nationals
or within Cuba."
[Edited 2003-09-25 02:30:25]