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1090. Can U.S. persons send remittances to Cuba using digital payments? 


Yes, provided the underlying remittance transactions are authorized under 31 CFR § 515.570 of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and the digital payment service provider is a U.S.-registered money transmitter or other qualifying banking institution within the definition of that term provided in 31 CFR § 515.314.  For purposes of this FAQ, “digital payments” means transfers of funds sent through mobile money, mobile wallets, digital bank accounts, credit/debit cards, online payments, or other digital technology.

Pursuant to 31 CFR § 515.570 of the CACR, OFAC authorizes persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to make certain categories of remittances to persons in Cuba, subject to certain conditions (please see FAQ 732 for an overview of the types of remittances U.S. persons can send and applicable conditions and requirements).  Additionally, pursuant to 31 CFR § 515.572(a)(3) of the CACR, banking institutions, as defined in 31 CFR § 515.314, including U.S.-registered money transmitters, are authorized to provide services in connection with the collection, forwarding, or receipt of authorized remittances.  Thus, digital payments service providers that fall within the definition of “banking institution” provided in 31 CFR § 515.314, including U.S.-registered money transmitters, can process authorized remittances to Cuba via digital payments. 

A banking institution is expected to conduct a level of due diligence commensurate with its overall risk profile and internal compliance policies and procedures.  However, as noted in FAQ 1057, banking institutions, including U.S-registered money transmitters within the context of § 515.572(a)(3), may rely on the statements of their customers that remittance transactions are authorized unless they know or have reason to know a transaction is not authorized. 

Section 515.572(a)(3) of the CACR does not authorize any transaction related to the collection, forwarding, or receipt of remittances involving any entity or subentity identified on the State Department’s Cuba Restricted List (CRL).  

Generally, OFAC’s general licenses are self-executing.  This means that if U.S. persons assess that their transactions fall within the scope of the authorizations in 31 CFR § 515.570 and 31 CFR § 515.572, they may execute such transactions without further assurance from OFAC.  
For transactions that do not fall within the scope of these authorizations, U.S. persons may apply for an OFAC specific license.  For example, financial institutions that fall outside the scope of 31 CFR § 515.572(a)(3) that seek to provide remittance forwarding services would not qualify for the authorization and would require a specific license.  Consistent with U.S. foreign policy, OFAC will prioritize specific license applications seeking authorization to enable remittances to flow more freely to the Cuban people via digital payments.  It is OFAC’s policy to deny specific license requests that involve transactions with CRL-listed entities for the purpose of collection, forwarding, or receipt of remittances.  Please see OFAC’s License Application Page for additional details regarding the specific licensing process.

Date Released
September 26, 2022