Cuba will scrap broad travel restrictions starting in January, easing most Cubans' exit and return.

The move is the communist island's first major immigration reform in half a century.

The government imposed restrictions on travel in 1961 to try to stop a mass migration of people fleeing after the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power.

It will lift the requirement to obtain an exit visa and letter of invitation.

Cubans will have to simply show a passport and a visa from the country they are travelling to if needed, Communist Party newspaper Granma said.

The changes are part of work "to update the current migratory policy adjusting it to prevailing conditions in the present and foreseeable future," the paper said.

Granma said the reforms were not total as "those measures aimed at preserving the human capital created by the Revolution from the theft of talents practiced by the powerful nations shall remain in force".

The travel changes will take effect on 14 January.