How to Send Money to Cuba

A woman sitting at her computer holding a debit card.
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For many years, an economic embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States put restrictions on money an individual in the U.S. could transfer to a relative or friend living in the island nation. The situation changed significantly in 2014, when the U.S. government partially lifted these restrictions. There are still dollar limits on transfers, but the process is now available through several channels.

Step 1

Contact a service provider who handles money transfers. This could be a bank or a remittance company such as Western Union. Bank wires work through an electronic exchange system, using unique identifiers such as the international SWIFT code. If your bank offers this service, you must provide an account number for the recipient as well as her name and address. The receiving bank will exchange your money into CUP, the Cuban or "national" peso, or the CUC, the convertible peso. Each currency has certain restrictions on use. Bank-to-bank transfers are the most secure way to send money overseas, although fees for this service can be high.

Step 2

Visit a transfer agent for a remittance provider, such as Moneygram or Western Union, if you prefer a less expensive option than a bank wire. These companies rely on their own networks to transfer funds to recipients, who use a unique ID or "transfer control" number to claim the funds at the foreign agent. This option is also available online. You "upload" funds with a credit card or from a U.S.-based bank account. The website provides confirmation, a control number, status updates and notification when the funds are picked up.

Step 3

Create and charge an AIS debit card for the use of the recipient. You must fund the card through an online service provider such as Canada-based EnvioDinero.ca or UTS Transaction, which is based in Switzerland. The recipient uses the card at stores that accept it or at dedicated ATMs to withdraw convertible Cuban pesos. This option prevents the 20 percent tax levied by the Cuban government on U.S. dollar transactions in Cuba. There may be a delay of several days before the funds are available. Creating a new card for the use of the recipient can take several weeks.

Tip

Recipients of new AIS cards must be at least 16 years old and provide a Cuban identity number. The cards are issued exclusively at offices of FINICIMEX, the Cuban government's official remittance agency.

Things You'll Need

  • Cash, credit card or bank account

  • Identification

Warning

At one time, the U.S. banned money remittances to Cuba. However, restrictions on these transfers have eased. As of January 2015, individuals in the U.S. can send up to $2,000 every three months to recipients in Cuba. Attempting to transfer more, by whatever means, can bring fines and jail time through prosecution by the Office of Federal Asset Control, which enforces sanctions against foreign countries.

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