Traveling to Cuba from the US just got a lot easier

Americans looking to travel to Cuba will soon be able to jump online, find a flight and head straight down after the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments unveiled a new set of rules Thursday that ease travel and trade restrictions to the island nation.

One of the most notable changes — which take effect Friday — is that Americans will no longer need to get approval from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control before embarking on a trip to Cuba.

As long as Americans certify they are traveling through one of 12 approved categories — which include educational, religious and humanitarian trips — they can simply head to the island. Traveling to Cuba solely as a tourist remains prohibited.

U.S. air carriers will be able schedule flights there without getting a special license from the government after the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Homeland Security update their rules to accommodate the new flights.

“Cuba has real potential for economic growth, and by increasing travel, commerce, communications and private business development between the United States and Cuba, the United States can help the Cuban people determine their own future,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement Thursday.

President Obama announced the decision last month to normalize relations with the communist country after more than five decades of political and economic isolation. The historic deal includes the establishment of embassies in Washington and Havana.


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