How To Legally Travel To Cuba As An American
First, citizens of the United States could freely travel to Cuba, then we could under certain conditions, now those restrictions have changed. If you’re a bit perplexed by the new Cuban travel sanctions, you’re not the only one. The update to Cuba’s travel restrictions are confusing, particularly since not much has changed since the rules were previously revised. The most important thing to know is that “people-to-people travel” is no longer authorized, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ve taken the liberty of breaking down Cuba’s travel regulations for you. Consider this your updated guide to understanding how to legally travel to Cuba as an American citizen.
The key to understanding what the government is really saying about United States citizens traveling to Cuba, is to break apart the jargon, and put everything in layman’s terms. Let’s begin…
Can a U.S. Citizen legally travel to Cuba?
Citizens of the United States of America can travel to Cuba; however, there are certain caveats.
Yes! You can still legally travel to Cuba — even with the recent changes to U.S. travel laws. However, the fact that your trip must meet certain qualifications has not changed. Understanding these rules or qualifications is generally where the confusion comes in. Going to Cuba isn’t like taking a last minute trip to San Diego or Las Vegas—you can’t just book a plane ticket and be on your way. To legally travel to Cuba, you’re going to need to plan your trip in advance, and ensure that you have a full travel itinerary throughout the duration of your stay.
Understand that the purpose of the restrictions isn’t to keep American citizens from visiting family in Cuba, learning about the country up-close, or engaging in meaningful cultural exchanges. Here’s what Cuba’s travel restrictions really amounts to if you’re an American citizen:
The United States government is trying to ensure that when you do go to Cuba, your money directly supports Cuban nationals in their quest for independence, and is not going to businesses which further the agenda of Cuba’s communist government.
What travel options do I have for legally visiting Cuba?
If you’re an American citizen, you won’t be able to take an impromptu trip to Cuba—you’ll have to plan ahead.
Currently, a U.S. citizen can legally travel to Cuba under a “general license” from one of twelve (12) categories, as outlined on page two (2) of the document “U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control Frequently Asked Questions Related to Cuba”:
- Family visits
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research and professional meetings
- Educational activities
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
- Certain authorized export transactions
The average American citizen who is trying to legally vacation in Cuba is going to fall into one of two categories—5. Educational activities or more likely, 8. Support for the Cuban people.
Does “educational travel” mean that only students can legally visit Cuba?
You don’t have to be a backpacking university student to travel to Cuba, but if you are a citizen of the United States, you must be in the country with a distinct and approved purpose.
No; it’s not necessary to try to gain admission to your nearest college or university. In this sense, “educational travel” basically means you have to visit Cuba under the guidance of a United States authorized “tour leader.” Officially, this is an individual who is a bona fide member of the organization sponsoring your trip—an employee, agent, etc.—who will be accompanying you throughout Cuba, and ensuring that you connect to Cuban history and Cuban nationals in thoughtful and educational ways. To legally visit Cuba, you must remain a part of this special group; however, this group can be comprised of your family and friends.
However, please be aware that “people-to-people travel” is not authorized as of June 5th, 2019. This field previously overlapped sometimes with educational travel, but now, there is a very clear delineation between the two. If you’ve previously made arrangements under people-to-people, you may be grandfathered in, but moving forward, this simple exchange is not enough. Your educational travel must include bonafide academics, or sponsorship from an authorized American tour leader.
What about the other category—Support for the Cuban People Travel?
This designation is your best option for meeting the travel requirements if you want to legally go to Cuba as an individual or part of a group of family and friends. However, you need to be aware that this must be an active vacation where you will be supporting entrepreneurs, and engaging in meaningful cultural exchanges with Cuban nationals. You’ll be traveling under what is known as a “general license,” and to qualify for this general license under Title 31 → Subtitle B → Chapter → Part 515 → Subpart E → §515.574_,_ you must ensure that
(1) The activities are of:
(i) Recognized human rights organizations;
(ii) Independent organization designed to promote a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy; or
(iii) Individuals and non-governmental organizations that promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba; and
(2) Each traveler engages in a full-time schedule of activities that:
(i) Enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities; and
(ii) Result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba.
(3) The traveler’s schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule.
In English? This is not a vacation where you’ll spend your entire trip sipping a mojito from the comfort of your resort’s private beach or pool. If you want to go to Cuba, you’re going to need to be prepared to be out and about— excited to engage with everyday members of various Cuban communities. In addition to keeping a full itinerary of educational and cultural activities you cannot experience outside of the country, you will do all that you can to ensure that you are putting money directly into the hands of Cuban nationals — not government owned enterprises.
Whatever status you legally visit Cuba under, remember one thing—cash is king.
What kind of activities do I have to participate in to qualify for ‘Support for the Cuban People Travel?’
Staying in a ‘casa particular’ is a simple yet valuable opportunity to support Cuban entrepreneurism. This is Casa Prado Colonial, one of many casas particulares you can choose to support if you are an American visiting Cuba.
A second interior view of the casa particular, Casa Prado Colonial, which is located in Old Havana—a World Heritage Site.
According to the Treasury Department, and the official regulations of the Federal Register, the following are acceptable options which will help you meet your overall trip requirements:
- Casa particular – Renting a room in a private residence.
- Paladares – Dining at a privately owned Cuban restaurant.
- Cuentapropistas – Shopping at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans.
Additionally, volunteering with recognized non-governmental organizations is also an approved activity—especially for those hoping to travel as a group. Attending cultural and historical tours, and visiting museums will also help you meet your itinerary quota. The general guideline to remember is that the more your activity is directly connected to the Cuban community, its culture, and history, the more likely it is that it will be on the approved list. Of course, you will still want to verify this.
Does this mean I won’t have any time to relax?
Cuba has beautiful beaches, but if you’re an American citizen visiting Cuba, don’t expect to spend your entire trip lounging on them.
Not necessarily. Again, per Title 31, “The traveler’s schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule.” The keyword in that sentence is “excess.” You must keep your pure leisure time to a minimum. That doesn’t mean that you won’t get to do fun low-key things, it simply means that every experience you have will be uniquely meaningful. An example?…
You shop for produce at a cuentapropista (privately owned store run by a self-employed Cuban) with your casa particular’s (rented room in a private residence) host. After learning something new about Cuban agriculture and the history of the store, you and your host cook and eat a traditional Cuban meal whilst engaging in lively conversation—this is an authentic and meaningful exchange. Your money is directly supporting the local community, and you are actively engaging with Cuban nationals and their culture.
Hostal del Angel is another example of a casa particular, a privately owned home which lets out rooms—essentially, a family owned boutique hotel or bed and breakfast.
Another view of Hostal del Angel, a casa particular American travelers can stay at to support the people of Cuba.
A salon/drawing room in Hostal del Angel—a casa particular which comes highly recommended.
You cannot however ride a bike around town, ask the sales clerk of a state-owned store how their day is going, and proceed to spend the rest of the day chatting up people at your hotel’s poolside bar. This is not an authentic cultural exchange, and does not support the private, small business sector in Cuba—per the guidelines of the State Department.
One thing we would recommend is making time to explore Cuba’s unique museums and galleries.
Can’t I just book a tour package through a foreign country and call it good?
If you’re a United States citizen hoping to legally travel to Cuba, don’t expect to stay in a luxury resort.
Absolutely not! No matter what other travel agencies may tell you, the U.S. Department of the Treasury website and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will tell you that these kinds of activities are still viewed as illegal. Why? Because, these packages usually revolve around “scuba diving, bicycling, hunting, fishing, hiking, or other tourist travel in Cuba.”
We read the full advisory, and the third (3rd) paragraph explicitly states:
A Cuban vacation package that is prepaid by U.S travelers through a travel agency located in a third country does not qualify as “fully-hosted” travel as described in the Regulations. This is true regardless of the type of currency that is used to purchase the package tour. This type of trip is simply an “all-inclusive” vacation package similar those available at most resort and vacation destinations anywhere in the world.
Meaning? It doesn’t matter if you’re paying for a trip through a travel agency which does allow legal tourism to Cuba; you are an American citizen going to Cuba for a touristic vacation, and this is not allowed. These activities do not promote meaningful cultural exchanges, but you can easily and legally travel to Cuba with Anywhere. Why risk taking an illegal vacation when you don’t have to?
How do I prove that my trip meets legitimate qualifications?
If you’re an American citizen visiting Cuba, keep copies of your travel itinerary and other credentials nearby. You may need to prove that you are in the country with a purpose.
Anywhere provides you with a printable itinerary, bring this with you. At the airport, your itinerary is proof that you are visiting Cuba with a specific (and clearly outlined) purpose.
What if the rules change again after I book my trip?
There are precedents and protocols which allow citizens of the United States to travel to Cuba, if they made their travel arrangements before new regulations or restrictions were implemented.
This is not an issue if you book your vacation with a trustworthy and reputable travel agency which specializes in unique destinations, such as Anywhere. If U.S. citizens find themselves unable to legally travel to Cuba under new governmental rules or guidelines, and you have already booked your trip with Anywhere, you will of course receive a full refund of your itinerary’s value; or, you can transfer your funds to a vacation in one of the other exciting countries we offer packages to.
Your concern is understandable, as this article was originally published in 2018 and had to be revised and updated in 2019 to reflect the most up-to-date information. The current version of this article is based upon information provided directly from the U.S. Department of The Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control Frequently Asked Questions Related to Cuba. As always, if and when the United States government changes the rules of its citizens legally traveling to Cuba, OFAC protects those who have completed their travel transactions prior to the latest announcement, and releases an exemption. Please be assured that you will get your money back or have the opportunity to book an alternate vacation if travel rules change again—it’s only fair.
The most important thing to remember about the updates to Cuba’s travel restrictions is that it’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can do—you can legally travel to Cuba.
With the privilege of being a U.S. citizen legally traveling to Cuba comes the responsibility of learning, sharing, supporting local entrepreneurs, and having an authentic cultural exchange outside of the confines of a resort or hotel. When you think about it that way, isn’t that what international travel is all about? Don’t just go to Cuba, explore Cuba. Anywhere knows how to legally travel to Cuba as an American—let us help you plan your legal itinerary today!
*Disclaimer* Anywhere is a travel agency which prides itself on operating within the confines of the law; however, this article is not intended to be a substitute for legal counsel—particularly if you choose to plan a vacation to Cuba which does not adhere to the guidelines outlined by the United States government, and/or this article. For questions regarding the legality of specific activities you may want to engage in, please seek legal counsel.
Can Us Citiizens Travel Directly Form Cuba To South America
Cuba has been a popular destination for travelers from around the world for many years. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of travelers from the United States visiting Cuba. Cuba is located just south of the United States, making it a relatively easy destination to reach. There are direct flights available from many major U.S. cities to Cuba. Once in Cuba, travelers can explore the many attractions the country has to offer. These include the colonial city of Havana, the beaches of Varadero, and the tobacco plantations in the Viñales Valley. In addition to its natural beauty, Cuba is also known for its rich culture and history. Visitors can learn about the Cuban Revolution, the country’s music and art, and its unique cuisine. With its close proximity and direct flights from the United States, Cuba is an ideal destination for travelers looking to experience a different culture.
Citizens of Canada and the United Kingdom are permitted to travel to Cuba without restriction, as are U.S. citizens. To travel to and from Cuba, you must select one of the 12 authorized travel categories. A Cuban Tourist Card is required for all international visitors. If you want to visit Cuba as a tourist, you must have the necessary legal authorization. When traveling to Cuba, American citizens must have a government-issued travel license. For a 30-day tourist card, you will need to pay 144 USD. Each airline agency employs a different pricing system.
If you’re looking for flights from the United States to Cuba, you should look into Skyscanner. Getting to Cuba. To travel to Cuba with a travel license, you must select one of the 12 categories available. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) defines the categories below. Cuba’s travel restrictions remain in effect. During emergencies, it is always recommended that you wear a face mask and social distancing clothing (5 foot). On December 10, 2019, all U.S. flights to Cuba will stop flying to the capital city of Havana.
As a result of the Trump administration’s decision to remove the people-to-people category, it has been prohibited. A program that promotes social development in Cuba is essential for assisting the people there. Your itinerary for Cuba is the most enjoyable part of the trip. You must include any of the previous activities if you choose to support Cuban people. Check the U.S. prohibited accommodations list for all of the fancy hotels Cuba has to offer. Travel records and receipts from your Cuba trip can be requested by the U.S. government for up to five years after your return to the United States. If you withdraw money from a bank account in Cuba while an American citizen, the account may be frozen and flags may be displayed. As a result, you will be unable to use your credit or debit cards for any financial transactions.
The results of a PCR COVID-19 test must be negative within 72 hours of the traveler’s arrival. To enter Cuba, you must also obtain a Cuban Health Declaration Card. To ensure that you can cover all of your medical expenses while in Cuba, you should have medical insurance.
If you have a visa, you can travel to Cuba directly from the United States. Seriously. All flights are available from Miami, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, and others. On the web, you can find cheap flights from the United States to Cuba.
There is no better way to get from Cuba to Miami than to fly from 10h 15m, which costs $120 – $360. Bus service is available, which costs between $270 and $430 and takes 47 hours 34 minutes to travel from one point to another.
The embargo was imposed by the U.S. government’s state department on trade between Cuba and the United States of America in 1962. This has made travel to Cuba more difficult than you may think, but it has also made traveling to Cuba a little more manageable.
Why Are Us Citizens Not Allowed To Travel To Cuba?
It is perfectly legal for Americans to travel to Cuba if they are only doing so for tourism purposes. However, before you can do so, you must first meet a few requirements. You must also have a valid Cuban Tourist Card (a.k.a a Cuban Visa), travel insurance, and a self-certification under one of the 12 authorized travel categories to travel to Cuba.
American citizens are no longer welcome at government-owned hotels, according to President Donald Trump’s administration. American consumers will also no longer be able to purchase Cuban rum or cigars as a result of the new policy. Despite this, Americans are not permitted to spend money in Cuba. Even in the face of recent restrictions, Cuba is still both legal and safe to visit. The Old Havana neighborhood of Cuba is the safest place to travel. The State Department has stated that this list will change over time. It is mandatory that you keep all of your receipts and records for five years. You may not be asked for them, but if you are, you must have them.
According to the US Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Cuba, U.S. citizens are not permitted to visit Cuba for tourism purposes. All US citizens are required to have a valid passport in order to travel to Cuba. The Cuban government announced earlier this week that tourists from the United States would no longer need a tourist visa. The change will take effect on March 15, 2017. Those who are visiting the United States on a valid visa will be able to stay for up to 90 days and must leave as soon as they arrive. The Canadian government has not been updated on the regulations for travel to Cuba by Canadian citizens. Following the current guidelines established by the US government, Canadians should continue to visit Cuba. There is still a law that prohibits US citizens from traveling to Cuba. The Department of State has updated its Country Specific Information for Cuba, stating that beginning on March 15, 2017, Cuban citizens who have a valid visa will be able to stay in the US for up to 90 days after entering the country, unless they leave within this time period. Citizens of Canada should adhere to the US government’s travel guidelines for Cuba.
Cuba Is Still A Safe Destination For Travel
For the time being, there is a travel ban in place for Americans to Cuba. After the U.S. government discovered a new strain of the Coronavirus, COVID-19, a travel ban was implemented. Those who wish to travel to Cuba must now fill out a Health Declaration Form and have COVID-19 health insurance, which must be purchased directly by the individual from Cuba (Americans must purchase their insurance through the U.S. Department of Health). It is not necessary to show proof of vaccination or pre-travel testing.
Cuba’s history can still be found in its tourist resorts. The Cuban government is constantly improving its safety measures in order to keep its citizens and the environment healthy. Although it is always a good idea to exercise caution when traveling to unfamiliar places, Cuba is a safe and enjoyable place to visit.
Can Us Citizens Travel To Cuba In 2022?
Yes, U.S. citizens can travel to Cuba in 2022. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulates travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens and residents. OFAC administers the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, which implement U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba.
Cuba has long been a popular vacation destination for travelers from around the world. For hundreds of years, people have been drawn here by its beautiful beaches, lush rainforest, and rolling hills. However, due to Cuba’s harsh restrictions, travel to the country has been severely restricted. Until January 14, 2013, all Cuban citizens were prohibited from leaving the country under these rules. That date grants any Cuban citizen with a valid passport the ability to leave the country at any time without fear of arrest or deportation by the Cuban government. Many tourists are eager to explore the island’s unique culture and stunning natural landscape as a result of this change, which has resulted in an influx of tourists. You should be aware of the most recent restrictions before making a trip to Cuba. Regardless of your nationality or the length of your stay, you may still require a tourist visa. Nonetheless, if you have a valid US passport, you can travel to Cuba in the same way as anyone else.
Can Us Citizens Travel To Cuba For Tourism?
Anyone planning a trip to Cuba for tourism must first obtain a license from the government. The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licenses to individuals in 12 different types of travel.
How can Americans visit Cuba? Yes, travel to Cuba is still permitted for Americans, as is travel to the island for Europeans. Travelers must fill out a health declaration form and have health insurance in order to enter the country. Despite the fact that masks are still required for public transportation and healthcare environments, this is not always the case. Because of this category, independent travelers to Cuba are frequently classified as supporting the Cuban people. If you want to go in this category, you must devote at least half of your time to activities that benefit the Cuban people. After June 5, 2019, you will no longer be able to travel to Cuba under the People to People category or on cruises.
For years, Cuba has been an appealing vacation destination for tourists. As a Caribbean island nation, Cuba has a rich history and culture. Despite the fact that there are 11 million people in the country, tourism has provided an alternative source of employment. The rules and regulations of a particular country affect how visitors are allowed to enter and depart that country. For example, American citizens can stay for 90 days with a visa, but British citizens can stay for 30 days.
Is There Still A Travel Ban To Cuba?
Regardless of whether Americans travel to Cuba or not, Cuba is open for travel. The health declaration form must be filled out by all travelers, and valid health insurance with COVID-19 coverage must be purchased directly by Americans from Cuba. It is not necessary to provide proof of vaccination or pre-travel testing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 95.14% of citizens have received a flu vaccine. Travelers from the United States will be able to enter Cuba as long as they are vaccinated. COVID-19 testing is done. Limit yourself to what you can open. The bars open with a set of restrictions. There is a charge for public transportation. Regardless of vaccination status, the vast majority of visitors from the United States can enter Australia. Jamaica is an appealing destination for US tourists, regardless of vaccination status. It is legal for Americans to enter the United Arab Emirates if they are fully vaccinated.
Why Can’t Americans Go To Cuba
The United States has had a trade embargo against Cuba since 1960, when Fidel Castro came into power and nationalized American-owned businesses in the country. The embargo was strengthened in 1962 with the addition of a travel ban, which prohibited Americans from visiting Cuba. The embargo was further strengthened in 1996 with the Helms-Burton Act, which made it illegal for American companies to do business with companies that had ties to Cuba. The embargo has been in place for over 50 years and shows no signs of lifted.
There is no law that allows tourists to visit Cuba for sightseeing. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has issued general licenses to 12 different types of travelers. Individuals who meet the requirements for the general license that allows them to travel do not need to apply for an additional license from OFAC. Cuban dual citizens subject to U.S. jurisdiction will now be prohibited from conducting direct financial transactions with entities and subentities on the Cuba Restricted List that the State Department has designated as having ties to Cuba. These transactions will be excluded from this prohibition based on exceptions specified in the NSPM. Citizens who left Cuba prior to January 1, 1971 are required to enter and depart the country on a Cuban passport.
Cuba Travel Restrictions Covid
As of October 2020, travel to Cuba from the United States is still restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. American citizens are only allowed to travel to Cuba for certain approved reasons, such as family visits, humanitarian work, journalistic activity, and professional research. All other travel, including tourism, is prohibited. Americans who do travel to Cuba must comply with strict travel restrictions, including a mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
When Did Travel To Cuba Become Legal
The United States lifted the embargo on Cuba in 1999, allowing Americans to legally travel to Cuba with insight from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
InsightCuba pioneered legal tourism in Cuba to the United States, allowing Americans to legally visit the island. InsightCuba received a specific license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury in 2000. Our company has provided tens of thousands of travelers with tours to Cuba and been featured in major news outlets for more than a decade. InsightCuba has sent over 3,000 Americans to Cuba since travel restrictions were relaxed in 1999. Travel to Cuba is now more difficult under the Bush administration. The last group of Americans with a valid people-to-people license to travel to Cuba will return home on December 31, 2003. InsightCuba, which provides licenses to travel to Cuba for Americans, marks its 15th anniversary in 2015.
By the end of the year, travel publications such as Conde Nast Traveler and Conde Nast Traveler had ranked Cuba as the most popular destination for Americans. People-to-people tours are now permitted in Cuba, and new travel regulations are being implemented to make them easier for Americans. InsightCuba is named the world’s best Cuba travel specialist for the third year in a row by Conde Nast Traveler. The Trump administration overturns the People-to-People Travel Act, but many of the Obama-era restrictions remain intact. Cuba has a population of 4.75 million people, which is the highest in its history. The two most important markets are Canada and the United States.
Is Travel To Cuba Safe For Americans?
Although Cuba has long been a popular tourist destination for Americans, US citizens have been barred from visiting the island since the 1959 revolution. The US government revised their legislation to make travel from the United States to Cuba easier in January 2015, and they further amended it in March 2016. There are still some restrictions in place for US citizens who meet certain requirements, but some of those loosened restrictions were later revoked by President Donald Trump.
Is it safe to travel to Cuba?
Although travel to Cuba is legal, it still carries some risks. Cuba’s political situation and lack of infrastructure, for example, make it difficult to travel there. Furthermore, despite recent improvements in safety, Cuba remains a dangerous destination.
It is critical to conduct adequate research and consult with a travel agent or expert to ensure that your visit to Cuba is as enjoyable as possible.
Us Cuba Travel
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers the embargo against Cuba. The travel ban includes restrictions on financial transactions and travel to Cuba.
The purpose of the embargo is to isolate the Cuban government economically and deprive it of U.S. dollars. The embargo is also intended to discourage travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens and residents.
The embargo against Cuba was first imposed in 1960, following the Cuban Revolution. It was strengthened in 1962, after Cuba nationalized U.S. property on the island.
The embargo has been further strengthened over the years through a series of presidential executive orders and legislation.
The embargo is currently codified in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
The island is located in the Caribbean and is one of three islands in the archipelago, along with Cuba and Isla de la Juventud (formerly known as the Isle of Pines). The Fred will embark and disembark in Havana as its primary port of call. The 2021-2022 season will be a season for the Olsen Cruise Lines company based in the United Kingdom.
Depending on where you live in Miami, you can use buses from Miami to Cuba for $150 to $360. The bus trip, on the other hand, can take up to 4 hours and 30 minutes.
Can US Citizens travel to Cuba?
The USA is so close to Cuba and for years Havana was America’s favourite playground and holiday destination. Over the past sixty years, US-Cuban relations and the US Embargo have made Cuba seem like a forbidden fruit. Tantalisingly close and yet just out of reach. Easy to see why travelling to Cuba looks so complicated. In reality, it’s pretty easy for US citizens to travel to Cuba.
So, how can US citizens travel to Cuba legally?
Some opt for US travel agencies, licensed to organise tours in Cuba. Others choose to travel independently. These are the ones who ask Cubania Travel “How can I travel to Cuba legally from the USA?” Cubania Travel has been organising sustainable active adventures to Cuba for the past 20+ years. So, we’re a great place to start when organising your trip to Cuba.
As one of the most environmentally responsible adventure travel companies in Cuba, (check the carbon footprint on any of our trips!). We do things the Cuban Way so that our tours support local communities and give you an amazing insight into Cuba’s unique way of living.
How to travel legally to Cuba (AND support Cuban people)
In this article, we give you all the information you need for legal travel to Cuba from the USA. We’ll guide you on how you can avoid sanctions by travelling smart and we’ll encourage you to travel consciously and give something back to local communities.
So, how can US citizens travel legally to Cuba? Remarkably, it’s pretty easy! But you need a little background information before you jump on that plane and head for Havana’s vibrant streets and Cuba’s beautiful towns and landscapes. You’ll need to choose a tour which complies with OFAC regulations (view ours here) and you’ll need to get your travel documents in order.
You’ll need the following documents for travel to Cuba:
★ Passport valid for at least 6 months after your trip to Cuba
★ Cuba Tourist Card (Pink or Green depending on where you travel from)
★ Health Insurance (It’s a legal requirement to have health insurance for any trip to Cuba)
★ Flight ticket
Pretty straightforward right? Double check you have 6 months of validity on your passport otherwise you won’t be able to enter Cuba.
Cubania Pro Tip: Cuban Immigrations will NOT stamp your passport unless you specifically request a stamp. This is super helpful – you won’t have to answer any uncomfortable questions about what you were doing in Cuba, once you return home.
Cuba Tourist Card
Pink Tourist Card or Green Tourist Card? Most travellers need a visa to enter Cuba and there are 2 kinds: Green Cuba Tourist Card and Pink Cuba Tourist Card.
★ GREEN TOURIST CARD. If you’re flying to Cuba from anywhere else in the world but the USA, you need to buy a Green Tourist Card. So, if you’re flying from Cancun or from Toronto you buy a Green Tourist card, regardless of nationality. Cubania Pro Tip: Both tourist cards are valid for 30 days from the day of entry into Cuba and can be extended by a further 30 days if required. Phew!
★PINK TOURIST CARD. If you’re a US citizen or simply someone who booked a direct flight from the US to Cuba, you’ll need to buy a Pink Tourist Card. This is a Cuban government requirement and has nothing to do with US Sanctions on Cuba. The Pink Card simply states that the passenger entered Cuba from USA. Your airline in the USA should be able to sell you a visa directly. If not, you should be able to purchase the pink visa card at Miami Airport (or whichever airport you fly from) If you’re travelling to Cuba direct from the USA, you’ll need to satisfy US authorities that your trip complies with OFAC regulations. Whatever you do, DO NOT say you’re going to Cuba for tourism! Most people travel under “Support for the Cuban People” category (More about this below!).
Cuban authorities require all visitors to have valid Health Insurance Cover before entering the country. Hard to buy when you’re travelling from the USA but you can buy on arrival through Asistur S.A., the local Health Insurance provider. The approximate cost per person is USD 5.00 per day.
Cubania Pro Tip: Most insurance companies do not have contracts with Cuba so if you have a medical emergency while in Cuba, your insurance company will ask you to pay in advance for treatment and you’ll get a refund once you return. However, if you buy local Asistur insurance, medical expenses will be paid for upfront. Please double-check terms and conditions with your insurance provider.
As easy as heading to Google Flights or SkyScanner…
Other documents you’ll need
General Licence for travel to Cuba
If you’re travelling to Cuba directly from the USA, regardless of nationality, you’ll need to ensure that you comply with OFAC Regulations on travel to Cuba. The US Embargo on Cuba forbids travel for tourism to the island. And it places some limitations on where you can stay and what you can do whilst in Cuba. You’ll need to prove that you’re complying with these regulations by travelling under a General License to travel to Cuba. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you actually have to carry a printed Licence with you. It simply means that your trip complies with one of the 12 categories of permitted travel to Cuba outlined by the US Government. You can take a deep dive into US Treasury regulations on Cuba here. Most people travel under the “Support for the Cuban People” category, which allows travel to Cuba so long as:
✧ You have a full itinerary of activities which enhance contact with Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba and promote Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities
✧ You meaningfully interact with individuals in Cuba
✧ You ensure to keep a copy of your itinerary and transactions related to your trip for 5 years after your trip.
How to prove that you’re supporting Cuban people when you travel to Cuba?
Actually, it’s pretty easy.
The rule of thumb is to ensure that all your money is spent on small private businesses rather than paying for services belonging to the Cuban government. You’ll need a full itinerary packed with activities which support Cuban people directly (by staying in their homes and eating in private restaurants ) and which engage you in meaningful dialogue with Cubans (cycling with Cuban masters is one of our favourite examples). If you’re booking through Cubania Travel, most of our itineraries already comply but some may require some adjustments. Please email our sales team if you have any questions about Cubania small group tours.
Here are some examples of ways Cubania packs your trip with OFAC compliant activities:
·Bed and breakfast accommodation: Long before AirBnB, Cubans had been renting out rooms in their homes. As a US citizen you can only stay in this kind of accommodation. Currently, all stays in hotels are NOT allowed. Good to know: Cubania Travel uses Casa Particular accommodation on all tours so you get to experience Cuba like a local.
·Visit local businesses: Take time to schedule visits to small businesses in Havana and beyond. Meet with small business owners, talk to them about their work and, if possible, buy their goods. You’ll be engaging with wonderful, hard-working, creative people and you’ll have an amazing insight into Cuban life. Good to know: Cubania travel schedules visits to Cuban businesses on all tours, so you can get a chance to meet with locals.
·Eat in Paladar Restaurants: These are privately-owned, licensed restaurants which serve food and cocktails. Usually, service and quality are far higher than in Government-owned places. Good to know: all your meals on a Cubania tour will be in paladars so you can sample some authentic, local dishes.
·Discover locally owned Shops: Design stores, jewellery, crafts, clothing, souvenirs… The streets of Havana are packed with amazing small stores selling a myriad of locally made goods. Upcycling is a big deal in a country where re-using everyday objects happens as a matter of course. Good to know: Cubania’s local guides will direct you to the best of local arts and crafts, away from tourist traps.
·Engage with Local Experts. Learn about Cuban music, art, sport, and dance by engaging with local experts. Cuba has produced a huge number of world-class artists, sportsmen and women and it’s surprisingly easy to get access to their expertise. Good to know: Cubania travel organises visits to art studios, jam sessions with Cuban musicians, cycle tours with Cuban Olympic Medallists and Master cyclist, dance classes with professional dancers… ·
·Discover local culture: Get close to a particular area of Cuban Culture. Learn about Cuba’s Afro-Cuban roots by visiting a Santeria priest or visit San Isidro with a local graffiti artist who’ll help you unravel the meaning behind some of Havana’s amazing street art. Good to know: This is exactly the kind of visit all Cubania tours include!
If you want to know more about the OFAC Regulations then please check our Travel USA page where you can access full OFAC Regulations. You can access the OFAC list of Restricted Entities here .
So, there you have it. Now all you need to do is get in touch and come visit us in Cuba!
Ready to plan your Cuba Holiday?
With over 20 years of experience organising tours in Cuba, our Cubania team has your back. From Cuba cycling tours to family Cuba tours or LGBTQI-friendly Cuba tours, we’ve got something for everyone!
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Lucy Davies is the Director of Cubania Travel. Currently living in London, she has been working with, living in and travelling to Cuba since the 1990’s.
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Caribbean Biking Company Ltd is a Member of ABTA with membership number Y6409 (UK Office) and Y6408 (Cuba Office). For further information contact ABTA, 30 Park Street, London SE1 9EQ. Tel: 020 3117 0599 or www.abta.com
Reservations & Bookings
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Telephone:+44 (0) 208 355 7608
UK REGISTERED ADDRESS
Caribbean Biking Company Ltd (Cubania Travel)
2 Minton Place, Victoria Road, Bicester,
OXON, OX26 6QB
Company Registration No: 08205075 (England and Wales)
VAT Registration Number: 161 2552 34