DISCLAIMER:

The information on this page is no longer accurate because of the changes President Obama has made in Cuban policy.

 

FAQs: Travel to Cuba

1. What are the travel restrictions to Cuba?

With the April 2009 directives, the Obama administration removed all travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans to visit and send money to family members in Cuba. However, for those Americans who are not Cuban-American and have no family in Cuba there are still ways to travel to Cuba. According to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, individuals who are subject to U.S. jurisdiction (even if traveling through a third country) must first obtain a license before engaging in travel to, from, and within Cuba.

General licenses are given to certain kinds of travelers including those who are visiting a close relative who is a national of Cuba (including third-country nationals residing in Cuba), journalists and supporting personnel, government officials on official business, members of international organizations (of which the U.S. is a member) traveling on official business, full-time professionals traveling for non-commercial research, full-time professionals traveling for a professional non-commercial meeting or conference organized by an international organization, employees or representative of a U.S. telecommunications services provider, and individuals regularly employed by a producer or distributor of agricultural commodities or medicine.

For those individuals who do not fall under the scope of the general licenses, they may be eligible to obtain a specific license from OFAC. Specific OFAC licenses are given to those who wish to visit a close relative in Cuba who is not a Cuban national, to educational institutions, religious organizations, and other specific licenses are approved at a case-by-case basis.

To apply for a specific license, individuals need to send a letter requesting the specific license and with the details of the potential visit. Academic institutions must send a similar letter and include proof that the institution is accredited by an appropriate association. Religious organizations must send the detailed letter as well and include examples of religious activities they will host in Cuba. The letters must be sent to: Licensing Division, Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of Treasury, 1500 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20220. More specific guidelines can be found at

http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/cuba/cuba_tr_app.pdf

2. Once a license has been obtained, what’s next?

Once a proper license has been obtained the traveler must have a valid passport and visa. American citizens are issued visas (tourist cards) upon arrival to Cuba or can attain a visa from the Cuban Interest Section in Washington D.C., however make sure to have received the appropriate type of visa for your visit. Additionally, as of May 2010 Cuba requires that all visitors be covered by a non-U.S. medical insurance. Cuba will sell a temporary policy to visitors who do not have a non-U.S. insurer.

Also, keep in mind that credit cards issued by U.S. banks cannot be used in Cuba and the U.S. dollar has not been accepted for commercial transactions since November of 2004. However, there are specially designated Cuban banks that accept major U.S. travelers checks and U.S. dollars can be converted to convertible or non-convertible Cuban pesos (the effective exchange rate including the 10 percent fee for exchanging US dollars to convertible Cuban pesos results in 1 USD = 0.80 CUC) Additionally, keep in mind that there will be a $20 Cuban departure tax that must be paid before leaving the country. The maximum Per Diem rate, or max that can be spent per day of travel in Cuba is $179. Some general and specific licenses, such as for journalists, allow for a higher rate depending on the necessary equipment.

For the actual flight to Cuba the U.S. Treasury’s OFAC has issued a list of authorized providers of air, travel, and remittance forwarding services to Cuba. The list can be found at

http://www.ustreas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/cuba/cuba_tsp.pdf