TRAVELING TO CUBA EASIER THAN EVER
President Obama’s December 17th, 2014 announcement that America was reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba has many positive consequences for travel plans. The resumption of good relations with Cuba means easier travel, trade, and financial relations between the two countries as well as Cuba’s removal from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and a reopening U.S. embassy within Cuba. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) put President Obama’s declared changes into effect on January 16, 2015; this action effectively removed many legal obstacles and inconveniences that reduced Cuban travel and commerce.
ESSENTIAL TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
Here's a simplified list of Cuban entry requirements:
- Return Travel Documents
- Valid Cuban Tourist Card/Visa
- Certification of Travel Form
- Valid Passport—valid for at least 6 months from arrival in Cuba with 2 blank pages
- Evidence of Sufficient Funds for Minimum Financial Needs
- Proof of Travel Medical Insurance
CUBAN TOURIST CARD or TRAVEL VISA
Travelers to Cuba require a Tourist Visa, also known as a Cuban Tourist Card. If you’re traveling with Cuba Unbound, we take care of obtaining your Cuban Tourist Card for you!
If you’re flying to Cuba directly from the U.S., the airlines provide you with Cuban Tourist Card/visa or tell you how to obtain one. Some airlines allow you to obtain one in advance or at check in. They generally cost between $50-85.
MANDATORY MEDICAL INSURANCE
Cuba requires all travelers to Cuba to have travel medical insurance. Travel medical insurance must include coverage for medical evacuation, emergencies, and repatriation. The company providing your travel medical plan must be able to make payments from a non-U.S. banking institution.
Cuba Unbound includes the mandatory level of travel medical insurance in your costs. Guests may purchase supplementary coverage at their discretion; we recommend such action as the mandatory amounts are set rather low.
Cuba Unbound partners with Travel Insured International for this supplementary coverage, the costs of which depend on coverage amount, length of travel, and age of traveler.
If you have further questions, the U.S Department of the Treasury is a great resource. Check out their updated FAQs for more information!
GENERAL AND SPECIFIC LICENSES FOR CERTIFICATION OF TRAVEL FORM
Travel licenses can be confusing, and so we will break it down for you:
GENERAL LICENSES: This is the type of license you now need to travel to Cuba legally. A general license certifies your travel under one of the authorized categories. See below on how to travel to Cuba on a general license independently. When traveling with Cuba Unbound, we supply travelers with general licenses as part of our informative people-to-people tours so that the entire process remains easy, enjoyable, and best of all: legal.
- SPECIFIC LICENSES: Before the regulations were amended, obtaining a specific license was the only way to operate legal people-to-people tours to Cuba. Specific licenses had been obtained from the OFAC to companies and individuals. With the recent regulations, specific licenses are becoming increasingly obsolete and so the basic rule should be that if you have not already acquired one, you do not need to acquire one.
U.S. airlines as well as insurance companies require general licenses for their services, and using them will permit you to legally transport goods like tobacco, rum, and the infamous Che Guevara shirt back into the U.S.
CUBAN TRAVEL AMENDMENTS
While not all changes have been fully implemented, and further amendments are expected, the following amendments are in effect and currently making Cuban travel easier:
- Travelers are no longer required to apply to OFAC for a "specific" travel license. (General licenses are still required - when traveling to Cuba with Cuba Unbound, we will obtain the general license for you!)
- Direct flights to Cuba are available to the public and can be booked via travel specialists to Cuba, travel agents and even on some travel websites.
- Travelers can return with goods worth up to $400 in U.S. currency as well as up to $100 worth of tobacco and alcohol
- Travelers can now purchase travel insurance that will be applied to time spent in Cuba
RECREATIONAL TRAVEL STILL PROHIBITED
Restrains regarding visits for purely tourist and recreational purposes are still prohibited. Cuban travel remains more accessible than it has been since the embargo in 1961 because there are additional travel categories that do not require OFAC authorization, but visits must have a purpose beyond beachfront relaxation. Under the new regulations, “Recreational travel, tourist travel, travel in pursuit of a hobby, or research for personal satisfaction only” remain illegal. Therefore, trips to Cuba are required to be non-commercial as well as purposeful; that being said, since specific licenses are no longer required, this requirement can be met without as much paperwork as before.
Please visit our Cuba Frequently Asked Questions page for other answers to questions like: Is it safe to travel to Cuba? How many cigars can I bring home? ...and much more!