US Medical Sales to Cuba

The US Treasury Bureau of Industry and Security offers guidelines that supplement the Export Administration Regulations as they relate to the export of medical items to Cuba.

Sales and Donations of Medicines, Medical Equipment and Supplies to Cuba

In 1998, a number of steps were announced that increased the flow of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people, including improving the procedures for sale of medicines, medical equipment and supplies.

In consultation with other agencies, the Commerce Department issues licenses for the export to Cuba of medical items, either donated or sold. These agencies have developed procedures to expedite processing of humanitarian medical licenses as they relate to Cuba. In addition, Commerce will work with exporters on the monitoring and on-site verification requirements for medical sales or donations to governmental entities in Cuba.

Cuba License Requirements

  • The Commerce Department licenses the export of U.S. goods and technology to Cuba
  • The Treasury Department authorizes the travel of groups and individuals to Cuba and remittances
  • The State Department provides overall policy guidance on Cuba

Because Cuba is an embargoed country, practically all U.S. goods require a Commerce export license. All approved medicines, medical equipment and supplies require a U.S. Commerce Department export license. Commerce export licenses are valid for 24 months, during which time shipments against the license can be made.

You must submit applications electronically using BIS's Simplified Network Application Process Redesign (SNAP-R). We strongly suggest seeking assistance from experienced, qualified professionals for this process since you have to provide very specific details in your application... thorough descriptions, model numbers, uses, purposes, sale or donation designation and much more information is required in order to fill out an acceptable application.

Of course you will need permits, visas, certificates and several other forms of permission in order to sell medical equipment and medicine in Cuba.

Legal Travel to Cuba for Medical Sales

In September 2009, President Obama loosened many restrictions on American citizens and businesses. Included in this new policy is the ability for US companies to travel to Cuba under a general license for medical sales to Cuba. In April 2011, OFAC released updated guidelines for legal travel to Cuba.

Specifically, pursuant to section 620 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, which amended the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, there is a new general license that authorizes travel-related transactions that are directly incident to the commercial marketing, sales negotiation, accompanied delivery, or servicing in Cuba of medicine, or medical devices that appear consistent with the Department of Commerce's export or reexport licensing policy.

A traveler may rely on this general license if he or she is regularly employed by a producer or distributor of the medical items or by an entity duly appointed to represent such a producer or distributor, and if that traveler's schedule of activities is consistent with a full work schedule.

There are other restrictions and conditions that one needs to understand before engaging in medical sales to Cuba and travel to Cuba from the US.

The exact text goes something like this: "Employees of a producer or distributor of medicine, or medical devices or an entity representing such a firm Individuals regularly employed by a producer or distributor of medicine, or medical devices or an entity duly appointed to represent such a producer or distributor are authorized to engage in Cuba travel-related transactions incident to the commercial marketing, sales negotiation, accompanied delivery, or servicing in Cuba of such items, provided that their schedule of activities does not include free time, travel, or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full work schedule and provided the activities appear consistent with the export or re-export licensing policy of the Department of Commerce. Please see section 515.533(e) of the Regulations for reporting and other requirements concerning these travel-related transactions."

Got all that? Ready to continue?

Points of Contact

The following agencies can advise you on export license procedures and policies as they relate to Cuba:

Office of Strategic Trade & Foreign Policy Controls
Bureau of Export Administration
US Commerce Department

Office of Cuban Affairs
Bureau of Inter-American Affairs
US State Department

Office of Foreign Assets Control
US Treasury Department

For agency contacts, market research, applications and general guidance regarding medical sales to Cuba, consider our Cuba consulting services for entities seeking to sell or donate medicine, medical supplies and medical devices to Cuba.

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