(Reuters) - The United States is easing restrictions on American companies seeking to do business in Cuba and opening up travel in the latest move to weaken the U.S. trade embargo amid warming relations with the communist-ruled country.
Regulations issued on Friday build on earlier ones announced in January and take effect on Sept. 21.
The following is a list of main aspects of the new rules:
Transportation providers no longer need to seek U.S. approval for travel to Cuba on a case-by-case basis. Instead, passenger, cargo and recreational vessels will be generally authorized to travel to the Caribbean island nation.
Ships and other vessels will be allowed to remain in Cuba temporarily for 14 days, while aircraft can stay for seven days.
Under earlier rules, close relatives were allowed to join permitted travelers to Cuba for certain allowed activities. Friday’s changes allow those relatives to accompany authorized travelers on a wider range of activities such as humanitarian projects, research and religious activities.
The regulations still limit authorized travelers from the United States to those who receive permission for certain endeavors, such as those related to education and research, and travel for official government business or family visits.
U.S.-based companies will be allowed to establish joint ventures with entities in Cuba to provide telecommunication and Internet services.
Certain related technology, such as software, will also be allowed to be exported to Cuba and people in the United States will be able to import mobile apps developed in Cuba.
The new regulations abolish most limits on the amount of money people can send and carry to Cuba. Caps had been set at $2,000 per quarter on remittances transmitted to Cuba, and $10,000 and $3,000 for people in the United States and Cuban nationals respectively to carry there.
Remittances to Cuban government or Cuban Communist Party officials remain barred
Certain authorized people, companies and organizations can open bank accounts in Cuba.
Financial institutions will be allowed to open and close bank accounts in Cuba.
The rules allow for certain U.S. entities to open such as offices, stores and warehouses in Cuba. This applies to exporters of certain goods authorized for export, mail and cargo transportation providers, educational activity organizers, religious organizations, news organizations and certain travel companies.
Exports of aircraft parts, flight-related software, and other aviation equipments will be allowed on a case-by-case basis.
Educational activities will be expanded to authorized standardized testing and Internet-based classes.
Humanitarian aid will be expanded to allow help for disaster relief and historical preservation.
Cuban merchandise valued at $100 or less, except for alcohol and tobacco products, can be imported to the United States from a third country as long as it is not carried by the traveler.
Compiled by Susan Heavey; editing by David Storey and Grant McCool