The U.S. Coast Guard has removed conditions of entry on vessels arriving from Cuba, thus allowing easier access to ports to cruise ships and cargo vessels sailing between the two countries.
The USCG said on Thursday that the decision comes following a comprehensive assessment which has determined that Cuba meets the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code requirements established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and has effective security measures in their ports.
As a result, vessels arriving to the U.S. are no longer required to employ additional security measures while in Cuban ports. Conditions of entry related to Cuban ports were originally imposed in 2008.
However, all U.S. immigration policies remain unchanged and the Office of Foreign Assets Control travel restrictions remain in effect. Furthermore, the governing regulations titled “Unauthorized Entry to Cuba” contained in 33 CFR 107.200 also remain in effect, the USCG said.
The move comes as tensions between the two countries ease especially ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba, who is the first US president to visit the country since 1928.
The two countries decided to normalize bilateral relations in December 2014 paving the way for further cooperation in trade and maritime industries.
The move saw approval of an establishment of a ferry service between the United States and Cuba in May 2015.
The two countries suspended the ferry services in the early 1960s, following the Cuban revolution.