US issues new rules for travel to Cuba

The new rules include the relaxation of some of longstanding regulations.

Updated: Apr 22, 2011, 12:12 PM IST

Washington: The US Treasury Department on Thursday published new rules governing travel to Cuba which include the relaxation of some of longstanding regulations that were announced in January by President Barack Obama.

The President had then said that after years of restrictions, US students, journalists or members of religious organisations may travel freely to the island without asking US authorities for prior permission.

That was the second occasion on which Obama had pushed for the relaxation of travel rules to Cuba. In April 2009, he announced that Cuban Americans could travel to the island any time they wanted.

According to the full document published on Thursday by the Treasury, now US citizens will be able to travel to Cuba without requesting government authorisations when they are going there to visit a "close family member" who is Cuban or works at the US Interests Section in Havana.

Accredited journalists, professionals who visit the island to participate in events such as conferences or meetings and students and professors who go to participate in educational activities will all be allowed to travel without restrictions.

Another group favoured by the new rules are religious organisations recognised by the government, as well as agricultural and telecommunications firms that want to undertake advertising tasks or commercial negotiations on the Communist-ruled island.