Guidelines for Travel to Cuba for Faculty and Staff

Thank you for your interest in traveling to Cuba. President Obama’s historic announcement to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba has focused renewed attention on and interest in traveling to the Island. As you may know, regulations are currently being defined and evolving, and at this point DRCLAS cannot advise on travel to Cuba beyond the scope of normal travel through the academic license. Travel to Cuba for purposes of tourism is prohibited. Please see our web site on the Cuban Studies Program/OFAC Regulations for more information.

Further information about travel to Cuba can be found on Harvard's Global Support Services web site.

Harvard University Sponsorship for Faculty and Staff Travel

Under the 2011 OFAC general license provisions, the University is permitted to authorize members of the faculty and staff to engage in certain travel-related transactions in Cuba with the exception of those faculty who are paid employees of affiliated hospitals and do not earn a salary paid by the University. Such travel would otherwise be impossible for U.S. citizens and residents because of the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba. The categories of travel permitted under Harvard’s sponsorship are as follows:

- Faculty may travel to Cuba to teach at a Cuban academic institution, provided the teaching activities are related to an academic program at the Cuban institution, and further provided that the duration of the teaching will be no shorter than 10 weeks. To be eligible, faculty must be regularly employed in a teaching capacity at Harvard.

- Members of the faculty and staff of Harvard may travel to Cuba in connection with a structured educational program in Cuba (for undergraduates or graduates) that is part of a course offered for credit at Harvard.

- Members of the faculty and staff of Harvard may travel to Cuba to organize and prepare for other licensed educational transactions and activities.

Application Information

Each Harvard faculty or staff member who wishes to travel under the University’s Specific License must submit an individual written proposal at least eight weeks prior to the proposed trip. 

The proposal must include the following information on Harvard University letterhead:

• The traveler’s name and Harvard affiliation.
• Documentation that the traveler is a full-time permanent employee of Harvard.
• If applicable, documentation that the traveler is regularly employed by Harvard in a teaching capacity.
• A detailed description of the purpose of the travel and the proposed activities (typically one to two pages).
• Proposed dates of travel.
• Proposed itinerary and letter of invitation from host Cuban institution, if applicable.
• A copy of the front page of the traveler’s passport.

Please send all application materials to: Katherine Steevens, Global Support Services, Harvard University


Note: Although travel to Cuba for research purposes is not authorized by Harvard’s General License, such travel may be authorized under a separate section of the OFAC regulations. Under what is called the “General License” provisions, travel to Cuba is permitted for full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to professional research in their professional areas, provided that the research: 1) is of an non-commercial academic nature; 2) comprises a full work schedule in Cuba; 3) has substantial likelihood of public dissemination; and (4) does not fall within certain prohibited categories (travel in pursuit of a hobby, for example). The regulations also authorize attendance by full-time professionals at professional meetings or conferences in Cuba organized by an international professional organization, institution or association that regularly sponsors meetings or conferences in other countries, provided that: (1) the sponsoring organization is not headquartered in the United States, unless it has a specific license to sponsor the meeting in Cuba: (2) the purpose of the meeting is not the promotion of tourism or other commercial activities in Cuba; and (3) the meeting is not intended to foster production of any biotechnological products. Please note that a recent modification to the regulations makes clear that attendance at professional meetings or conferences is not allowed unless it meets the criteria listed above.

Travel to Cuba for Full-time Professional Researchers Under a General License

Although travel to Cuba for research purposes is not authorized by Harvard’s General License, such travel may be authorized under a separate section of the OFAC regulations. Under what is called the “General License” provisions, travel to Cuba is permitted for full-time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to professional research in their professional areas, provided that the research: 1) is of an non-commercial academic nature; 2) comprises a full work schedule in Cuba; 3) has substantial likelihood of public dissemination; and (4) does not fall within certain prohibited categories (travel in pursuit of a hobby, for example). The regulations also authorize attendance by full-time professionals at professional meetings or conferences in Cuba organized by an international professional organization, institution or association that regularly sponsors meetings or conferences in other countries, provided that: (1) the sponsoring organization is not headquartered in the United States, unless it has a specific license to sponsor the meeting in Cuba: (2) the purpose of the meeting is not the promotion of tourism or other commercial activities in Cuba; and (3) the meeting is not intended to foster production of any biotechnological products. Please note that a recent modification to the regulations makes clear that attendance at professional meetings or conferences is not allowed unless it meets the criteria listed above.

Please note: HARVARD CANNOT AUTHORIZE TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF THE CATEGORIES COVERED BY ITS GENERAL LICENSE. HARVARD WILL NOT AUTHORIZE OTHER TRAVEL, EVEN IF THAT TRAVEL MEETS OFAC’S GENERAL LICENSE CRITERIA.

For more information on the US government’s regulations on travel to Cuba, please refer to the U.S. Treasury Department's Office Foreign Assets Control website 

Cuban Visa

Please note that in addition to obtaining a United States license to travel to Cuba, travelers must also apply for a visa from the Cuban Government. For more information, please contact the Cuban Interests Section in Washington DC directly. Phone calls to the Academic Visa Section should be directed to 202-797-8518, ext 123 or via US mail by at: 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009.