UPDATED JULY 8, 2016 | U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
May the U.S. dollar be used to conduct transactions in Cuba or with Cuban nationals?
Yes. Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction may engage in transactions in U.S. dollars in Cuba or with Cuban nationals with respect to activity that is authorized pursuant to the CACR. For example, payments for telecommunications services in Cuba provided pursuant to 31 CFR§ 515.542 may be made in U.S. dollars. Further, the use of U.S. dollars for transactions that are exempt from the prohibitions of or not otherwise prohibited by the CACR is also authorized. For example, payments related to the importation or exportation of informational materials as defined in 31 CFR § 515.332, such as books or musical recordings, may be made in U.S. dollars.
In addition, 31 CFR § 515.584(d), commonly known as the “U-turn” general license, authorizes U.S. banking institutions to process transactions originating and terminating outside the United States provided that neither the originator nor the beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction. This means that transactions related to third-country commerce involving Cuba or Cuban nationals may be processed in U.S. dollars through the U.S. financial system via financial institutions located in the United States that serve as intermediary banks. FAQ #63 clarifies that foreign branches or subsidiaries of U.S. banking institutions may act as the originating or beneficiary banks for such transactions.
Additionally, correspondent accounts used for transactions authorized by 31 C.F.R. § 515.584(g), which permits banking institutions as defined in 31 C.F.R. § 515.314(g) that are persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to accept, process, and give credit to U.S. dollar monetary instruments presented indirectly by a financial institution that is a national of Cuba, may be denominated in U.S. dollars.
However, financial institutions that are nationals of Cuba remain prohibited from opening correspondent accounts at a U.S. financial institution. For a complete description of what these general licenses authorize and the restrictions that apply, see 31 CFR § 515.584(a) and (g).