TRAVELING TO CUBA IS EASY WITH CUBA UNBOUND
Here is an explanation of the recent history of travel to Cuba as it pertains to U.S. citizens. Bear in mind that several million people a year from countries such as Canada, England, Italy, Germany and many more, go to Cuba on vacation every year. The United States is the only country that restricts its citizens from traveling to Cuba for touristic reasons. We are providing this information for your convenience, but please understand that when you travel with Cuba Unbound, we take care of all the legal details and make sure that your trip is stress-free and superbly organized.
Americans can only travel to Cuba under one of 11 permitted travel categories. On June 5, 2019, the Trump administration changed the rules and the category of "people-to-people" is no longer permitted.
The recent history of travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens looks like this:
- Dec 17, 2014: President Obama announced that America was reestablishing diplomatic relations. This made for easier travel, trade, and financial relations between the two countries, the removal of Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
- June 16, 2017: President Trump announced some modifcations to the regulations. The biggest change was that individual travel for educational people-to-people purposes was no longer allowed. However, group travel using the people-to-people category was still allowed.
- June 4, 2019: The Trump Administration removed the people-to-people category from the categories of allowable travel.
- October 25, 2019 - U.S. Administration bars U.S. airlines, other than charter airline companies, from flying to any Cuban airport other than Havana.
What does this mean? Most of our trips begin and end in Havana, so the October 25, 2019 change has little impact. For our trips in the eastern part of Cuba, charter flight services are still available.
Relative to the June 4, 2019 regulation change that ended the People-to-People category of travel, there are still 11 categories of permitted travel to Cuba including educational, religious, journalistic, professional meeting and more. The most useful category for most travelers is “Support for the Cuban People.” This category is intended to direct the economic activities of U.S. travelers to primarily benefit the private sector in Cuba. Thus, it encourages travelers to stay in private accommodations, eat in private restaurants and generally avoid spending any money with the Cuban government. OFAC has also issued a list of specific “restricted” entities that Americans are forbidden from having direct financial transactions with, including certain hotels. Fortunately, we are here to navigate all these rules on your behalf.
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 the duration of your trip
- Evidence of Sufficient Funds for Minimum Financial Needs
- Proof of Travel Medical Insurance
CUBAN TOURIST CARD or TRAVEL VISA
Travelers to Cuba require a visa, also known as a Cuban Tourist Card. If you are flying from the USA, the U.S. air carrier will have these visas available for sale in the boarding area, at a price ranging from $50-$100. It’s also legal to fly through another country like Canada or Mexico. In that case you can also obtain the visas at the airport.
GENERAL LICENSES FOR CERTIFICATION OF TRAVEL FORM (aka Affidavit of Travel)
GENERAL LICENSES: Cuba Unbound is licensed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under section 31 C.F.R.§ 515.572(a)(1) to provide travel services to Cuba. Cuba Unbound also has contracts with Cuban travel agencies that allow us to bring U.S. travelers to Cuba.
CUBAN TRAVEL AMENDMENTS
- 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, you are in full compliance with US law.)
- Many direct flights from the U.S. to Cuba are available and can be booked directly with the airlines including American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United.
- Travelers can return with goods worth up to $400 in U.S. currency including Alcohol and Tobacco.
- Travelers can now purchase travel insurance that will be applied to time spent in Cuba
RECREATIONAL TRAVEL STILL PROHIBITED
Restraints 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.
We can help! 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.
U.S. airlines include the mandatory level of travel medical insurance in your ticket. Guests may purchase supplementary coverage at their discretion. For those travelers who would like additional coverage, 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!