Sunday, July 06, 2008

Florida Imposes Travel Restrictions to Iran, Other State Sponsors of Terror

On July 1, 2008, a new law signed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist went into effect in Florida that imposes harsh penalties on travel agents, as well as American citizens and legal permanent residents seeking to visit family members in countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism.

Under the new law, SB 1310, any travel agent selling travel to Iran, Syria, Cuba, Sudan and North Korea to a Florida resident must certify in advance of the sale and pay a registration fee ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. The agent will also be required to post a security bond ranging from $100,000 to $250,000. Agents who do not comply with the law could face a high fine, as well as a third-degree felony conviction.

Before the new law was passed, agencies were exempt from the registration requirements if they had been ARC-accredited for the past three consecutive years. Under the new law, agents lose this exemption if they sell travel to one of the five countries.

The American Society of Travel Agents has voiced its objection to the law, which it says is in direct conflict with federal law, as it restricts travel, which the federal government says is legal.

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