BIS Amends EAR to Ease Restrictions on Gift Parcels and Humanitarian Donations to Cuba

On September 3, 2009, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced amendments to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) making it easier for Americans to visit and send gifts to their family members in Cuba. The amendment concerns primarily 15 C.F.R. §740.12, which authorizes, among other things, certain exports of gift parcels to Cuba pursuant to a License Exception GFT (Gift Parcels and Humanitarian Donations). BIS published Questions and Answers regarding these amendments here.

The new measures remove the requirement that gift parcels be sent only to donor's immediate family members. Instead, an individual in the U.S. may now send a gift parcel to an individual or an independent religious, educational, or charitable organization in Cuba. The same donor can send only one gift parcel to the same donee in any calendar month; however, there is no frequency limit on gift parcels of food to Cuba. The new regulations also require that parcel contents be used by donee or his immediate family; resale of gifts is prohibited. With some exceptions, any items normally exchanged between individuals as gifts may be included in such gift parcels, with the combined total domestic retail value not exceeding $800 (this limit does not apply to food items). 

In circumstances outside the scope of the license exception, such as when parties seek to ship gift parcels to Cuba more frequently, or want to consolidate several parcels into one shipment, individuals should file for a license application with BIS. 

In addition to the GFT Exception, the licensing policy was also revised to facilitate exports needed to establish telecommunications links between the U.S. and Cuba, including relations established through third countries and provision of satellite radio and television services to Cuba. A new License Exception CCD (Consumer Communications Devices) found in §740.19 of the EAR authorizes exports and re-exports to Cuba of donated personal communication devices such as mobile phones, computers and software, satellite receivers and digital cameras. 

With respect to the License Exception BAG (Baggage) found in §740.14, the EAR was amended to remove the 44-pound limit that used to apply to personal baggage of travelers to Cuba. 

To accommodate the new License Exception CCD, the U.S. Census Bureau has modified the Automated Export System (AES) by adding the new License Type Code "C58." The AES filers who report "C58" are required to report CCD, regardless of value, in the license number field and the Export Control Classification Numbers 4A994, 4D994, 5A991, 5D991, 5A992, 5D992, or EAR99 corresponding to the License Exception. AES filers must report the country of destination and ultimate consignee as CU. Furthermore, Export Information Codes OS, OI, CH, and CI, and all modes of transportation, except pipeline, are acceptable.