Department of Homeland Security Simplifies Regulation for Flights From U.S. to Cuba

Cuba // Photo by Joe Pike

The Department of Homeland Security will publish a regulation in the Federal Register Monday, March 21, which includes a change to current travel regulations regarding flights to and from Cuba. 

As part of this regulatory change, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will immediately remove Subpart O from the current regulations in 19 CFR Part 122.

Under Subpart O, only CBP-approved airports could accept flights traveling to or from Cuba. Airports hoping to accommodate travel to or from Cuba were required to submit a written request to CBP for approval. The written request was required even if the airport already had clearance for international flights.

Besides removing 19 CFR Part 122, Subpart O, the regulatory change also makes adjustments to other provisions which mentioned Subpart O. Flights to and from Cuba are now subject to the same legal requirements under Title 19 as other international flights.

All passengers arriving from Cuba must still complete their immigration and customs inspections prior to being admitted into the United States. Additionally, the removal of Subpart O of 19 CFR Part 122 does not have any impact upon any other federal agency, carrier or traveler requirements that may be relevant for flights to and from Cuba. An internal review of CBP’s regulations showed no benefits to the agency by continuing to enforce 19 CFR Part 122, Subpart O.

The interim final rule is effective immediately, although CBP will receive public comments on the rule through April 20, 2016. 

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Transportation signed an arrangement with Cuba in February 2016 aimed at re-establishing scheduled flights between the U.S. and Cuba.